Fare gate business case doesn’t add up, says Burnaby council, so shelve it

Translink’s “business case” to justify fare gates appears to have been crafted to justify former Transport Minister Kevin Falcon’s edict to implement them, says a City of Burnaby staff report, because the numbers don’t support the $171 million program.

Burnaby wants Translink to suspend the entire fare gate and smart card scheme to allow a comprehensive review.

Translink repeatedly rejected fare gates as a money-loser until Falcon unilaterally announced in 2007 that Victoria would pay the capital cost. But the $70 million raised from the provincial and federal governments only covers 40 percent of the total cost of fare gates and smart cards.

The rest must come from Translink revenues at a time when the region’s Mayors are fighting for new revenues to pay for the Evergreen Line and service improvements.

Almost all of the benefits expected from fare gates actually come from the smart card element, says the report, suggesting the smart card program should be implemented on its own.

Burnaby Mayor Derek Corrigan, a perennial Translink critic, asked his staff to obtain and analyze the Translink business case earlier this year. The heavily-edited version finally released gave Burnaby staff analysts plenty of room for concern.

“The final result (a benefit cost of 1.1) is not sufficient, on a business case, to justify advancing the project. The estimated benefits barely exceeds costs . . .

“The subject business case seems to be designed to retroactively justify the Minister’s 2007 announcement than to present a critical financial assessment.”