Customers seem to like Translink more than mayors do

Translink, caught in the crossfire of a political range war that sees municipal and provincial politicians vying to see who can be angriest about transit waste, has announced that its customers like it as much as ever.

Translink’s 2011 financial performance report released today shows customer satisfaction at the highest level ever, tied with last year.  Spending was under budget, thanks to a $56 million cut in operating costs, and operating costs per passenger kilometre were down too.

It’s all summarized on page 15 of the 2011 Financial and Performance Report, which shows passenger complaints on the system have risen slightly to 87.5 per million boarded passengers from 85.9 last year.

What’s the problem from the passenger end of the telescope?

Lack of transit information on the vehicles and insufficient numbers of bus stops are the major concerns. Dig deeper and we find “less than half of customers feel they are getting good-to-excellent value for the money they spend on transit” and “overcrowding, on-time reliability and frequency of service” are the big frustrations for bus riders. (Details starting on page 69 here.)

But additional bus service is not on the horizon given the upcoming efficiency review commissioned by the Translink Commissioner and the full audit demanded by regional mayors.  A proposed 13 percent fare increase, also under the commissioner’s microscope, is by no means assured, meaning that funding for service increases would be gone.

The message to transit riders seems to be “glad you like it — can you manage with less?”