What transit fare is fair? Translink riders want lower fares, particularly for short trips

Translink’s comprehensive fare review, the first since the modern system was established a generation ago, is finding strong support for lower fares for frequent riders making short trips.

But is such a fare system fair?

As transit expert Jarrett Walker has explained, the fairness of fares can vary depending on the trip, the rider and many other factors.

Translink expects to release a range of new fare structure options in the first half of 2017, with a final decision some time in 2018. The new structure, based on the Compass card and the reams of data the new fare card is producing, could have a dramatic impact on city transit riders.

The first round of consultation, which included both a market research study and a public questionnaire filled out by thousands of riders, found “lower fares for shorter distance trips” a priority for both groups. Translink reports that 59 percent of trips under 10 kilometres are taken by people reporting income of under $25,000 a year, a fact which underlines the social justice  aspect of fare policy.

But in Metro Vancouver’s brutal housing market, people with lower incomes are often forced to make longer and longer trips between work and home.  These long distance trips can touch three zones and cost the maximum if Skytrain is involved, but a trip of similar length by bus is a single zone fare.

These are the issues Translink must reckon with. The City of Vancouver’s transportation engineers are monitoring the fare review closely to make sure the views of city transit riders are heard. As things stand, Vancouver riders would like lower fares for frequent riders making short trips — people like them. Is that fair? Time will tell.

Rewilding Coal Harbour: it would mean shoals of flounder, sole and herring

Coal Harbour in 1904

Three years ago, Vancouver Park Board set about “rewilding” Vancouver with a special program to reintroduce lost species, habitat and ecosystems. The focus was on land-based species, but what would it take to “rewild” Burrard Inlet, once the scene of an abundant fishery?

This could be a live issue if Burrard Inlet ever suffers the insult of an oil spill.

Thanks to David Ellis for sharing this testimony at the 1905 Dominion Fisheries Inquiry, where fisherman R. T. Burtwell set out what was lost when Canadian Pacific Railway expansion began to interfere with fishing operations in Coal Harbour:

R.T. Burtwell (recalled) testified as follows:

The Witness. — Mr. Macpherson wants me to take this matter up. The matter is this, the fishermen who fish for the local market have been in the habit for many years of fishing in Coal Harbour with drag nets. In the fall, winter and spring, the herring, smelts, soles and flounders all seem to congregate in Coal Harbour. The conditions in the harbour have entirely changed and the men are now precluded from hauling their seines there owing to the CPR improvements. In other places where they could haul, there are no fish. Again, in the north of Burrard, when the herring come in, the men would have to haul on the spawning grounds. Now at the present time Vancouver harbour is simply teeming with fish and the men are perforce idle.

Such is the price of “progress.” Given how quickly herring returned to False Creek, however, after habitat was improved, there’s no doubt Burrard Inlet could be restored, hopefully without the spur of an oil spill.

There’s still time to give your views on Vancouver’s proposed new rules on short-term rentals

Short-term rentals are having an impact in rental and strata buildings.

Do you have concerns about Vancouver’s proposed new rules to regulate short-term rentals like Airbnb? If you do, there’s still time to put your views forward before council makes a final decision on the new rules early in the New Year.

This week, the City of Richmond announced it will press ahead with similar regulations to those proposed in Vancouver, which would limit short-term rentals to residents in their principal residence.

Richmond is also limiting rentals in condominiums.

The goal of Vancouver’s policy is to protect the city’s long-term rental stock at a time when vacancies are at an all-time low.

You can register your ideas or concerns by calling 311 or sending an e-mail to mayorandcouncil@vancouver.ca.



More Translink service improvements coming soon as regional Mayors begin search for long-term funding solution

Just a few weeks after important service improvements to support the opening of the Evergreen Line, Translink is preparing to announce even more transit investments on top of the Dec. 16 decision to purchase 28 new Skytrain cars.

Some of the money for the expansion will come from a funding package approved by the Mayor’s Council late last year, some from the proceeds of the sale of the former Oakridge bus depot, but all of it is the result of Phase 1 of the 10-year plan for transit investments across the region.

Long overdue improvements to existing services may include extension of service hours and improved frequency on busy routes.

Next task: confirm provincial support for Phase 2 of the plan, which includes construction of the Broadway Subway and light rail in Surrey. With Ottawa poised to make its major infrastructure decisions for the rest of this government mandate early in 2017, this is bound to be a provincial election debate.