Metro drivers’ shift to bus, bike, walking is shaking up Translink funding

The silver lining in the cloud hanging over Translink is the fundamental shift away from car use to transit, cycling and walking in Metro Vancouver.

Car trips are levelling off as part of the transportation mode share. Fuel consumption is dropping and many more Metro residents are taking the bus. Decline in gas tax revenue is a big part of Translink’s current funding crunch.

Those facts were front and centre today in Richmond as Translink board members and staff briefed provincial and municipal elected officials on the 2013 Base Plan.

During the past three years, as population increased six percent, bicycle use rose 26 percent, bus trips were up 17 percent, walking grew by six percent and automobile trips grew only four percent.

Even more dramatic is the decline in fuel consumption, driven by economic factors, better fuel efficiency and the shift to transit. No wonder the traffic over the Golden Ears Bridge is so weak that revenues are $38 million below forecast. Any takers on how Port Mann tolls will work out with a rapid bus running down the middle lane?

The decline in fuel consumption is not limited to Metro Vancouver. The entire Pacific Northwest is seeing fuel consumption slump to 1996 levels.

People want transit. People need transit. It’s hardly the time to be cutting service, but that’s what the latest Translink crisis is all about.