Vancouver City Councillor

Category — Transit

Downtown bus service review proposes route extensions to link West End, Yaletown in next five years

The Downtown Bus Service Review proposes route changes and extensions.

The Downtown Bus Service Review proposes route changes and extensions.

Key downtown bus routes will see route changes and extensions in the next five years to improve service and provide better links between the West End and Yaletown if Translink implements recommendations of the Downtown Bus Service Review.

City engineer Jerry Dobrovolny outlined the proposed changes in a memo to city council yesterday. The review, undertaken three years ago, involved several rounds of consultation and study.


August 20, 2015

Single zone bus fare signals Translink heading into home stretch on Compass card, tough decisions to come

bus picture

The single-zone bus system implemented to launch Compass is a temporary measure. Tough debates lie ahead on the fare system.

The new single zone for bus riders under the Compass card system, announced by acting Translink CEO Cathy McLay yesterday, signals Translink’s surrender, at last, on its requirement for Compass users to “tap off” on buses.

The “tap off” requirement was intended to monitor the length of rides and pave the way for “distance-based” fares, but Translink couldn’t make the policy work, a key reason the Compass rollout was seriously delayed. The solution: a single zone fare, no tap off.

The only way the single zone would fly with riders was if the fare was frozen at the current single zone rate. That way it would be a financial win for some riders but no one would pay more. Equally significant: any fare increase on the base fare must go to the Mayor’s Council for approval, not a great idea at the moment.

The single zone also means Translink has abandoned the very heavy fines it was proposing to levy, right or wrong, on anyone who didn’t tap off. Despite the constant references to technical flaws in the system, I believe these policy issues were at least as much to blame for the delay in the Compass rollout.

“Distance based fares” may make a return; the current system is temporary.

Very tough conversations will follow, given the failure of the funding referendum and the general agreement fares cannot increase without killing ridership. Still to come: resolution of important fare issues like Compass cards for the homeless.

McLay’s first day is actually Aug. 11. Until then, former acting CEO Doug Allen is technically at the wheel. It’s safe to assume this announcement had his approval, as well as that of incoming provincial Translink czar Peter Fassbender. It is also likely that the departure of a platoon of senior staff, engineered by Allen in recent weeks, was a curtain-raiser to yesterday’s announcement.

August 7, 2015

Success of Compass rollout on West Coast Express suggests new program is finding its feet

In the welter of unhappy news from Translink, there are welcome reports of a very successful rollout of the Compass Card on the West Coast Express.

Although a relatively simple proposition, given the nature of the commuter rail service, the confirmation that Compass was fully operational on the WCE is good news both for Translink executives — if any are left — and Cubic, the Compass supplier, which has implemented much larger systems in other cities.

Implementation of the Compass program, delayed for many months by policy issues at Translink, is now under way in earnest, with U-Pass users joining the system this fall. After that, the rest of us regular riders should be a straightforward proposition.

July 29, 2015

An outside expert’s opinion: the next “transit” debate must really be a “transportation” debate

Jarrett Walker’s lengthy but very constructive reflection on the outcome of Metro’s tranportation and transit referendum has everything you would expect from an expert with such wide international experience and Translink-specific local knowledge: sound insights, calm conclusions and a clarion call for leadership.

That leadership, as Walker points out, needs to come from “state/provincial” levels, and seek “solutions instead of pointlessly stoking urban-suburban conflict.”

In Metro, that means Premier Christy Clark and Transportation Minister Todd Stone — who are planning billions dollars worth of new transit investments to build a new Massey Bridge, without a plebiscite on funding — need to step up and stop trying to punt to the mayors.

They’re the provincial leaders, right? When we will see leadership?

The transportation and transit investments in the Mayor’s Plan are not a whimsical wish list. They are a carefully-considered response to the real challenges of the region, including car-oriented suburbs. The Broadway Subway, already years overdue, is at the heart of that regional plan.

Victoria is collecting tolls on the Port Mann, plans to collect tolls on the Massey Bridge and doubtless will toll the rebuilt Pattullo. When will Victoria’s plans focus on transportation, in all its dimensions, not just the concerns of car commuters?

July 3, 2015