Posts Tagged "TransLink"


Here’s what SkyTrain users told TransLink they want for the new cars

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Alyse Kotyk, CTV News Vancouver

Published Monday, September 16, 2019 11:18AM PDT

Last Updated Monday, September 16, 2019 11:19AM PDT

Transit users want to see more open and flexible spaces in SkyTrain cars, a survey conducted by TransLink says.

Earlier this year, about 13,500 transit users weighed in on changes they’d like to see inside SkyTrain cars as the transportation authority prepares to get more than 200 new cars. 

Results from the survey, released Friday, found that front-facing seats were the most popular, with 53 per cent of respondents preferring them. But perimeter seats were firmly in second place, with one-third saying they’d like some side seating in the new cars. 

Transit users were also very interested in seeing more leaning rails next to windows, particularly for those who have difficulty sitting. Across both its public survey and the TransLink Listens survey, 90 per cent of transit users were in favour of leaning rails. 

Opening up areas entirely for flex space was also a popular option, with about 60 per cent of respondents saying they’d like to see flex space on trains doubled. Right now, the newest train cars have two flex space areas – one at each end of the train. In those flex spaces, two-thirds supported bike racks being included. 

SkyTrain users also wanted improved signage showing the upcoming stop, destination and exit side. 

They also called for policies on washrooms to be reviewed. Currently, only washrooms at SeaBus terminals or on the West Coast Express are open to the public. There are also staff washrooms at stations, which are only accessible to the public with the permission of a TransLink staff member. 

However last December, TransLink’s board of directors approved a recommendation to create a policy that would see public washroom facilities on the transit system. 

According to a January staff report from the City of Richmond, TransLink staff have developed a washroom demand index for all stations and bus exchanges. Based on Compass card data, a draft “score” has been given to each station that considers the number of visits each site has per day. 

Data on those scores has not yet been released and there is no timeline on washrooms being made available at stations. 

The request for proposals for design and delivery of new cars will close at the end of this year. The new train cars will be used to replace the oldest “Mark 1” cars and will be in service sometime between 2024 and 2027.  

Read through the full report below.


TransLink launches consultation on 30-year regional transit plan

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Kevin Desmond is the CEO of Translink.

Jason Payne / PNG

For the next four months, TransLink will be asking those who live and work in Metro Vancouver for their ideas for how the region’s transportation system should be developed over the next 30 years.

It will be the largest public engagement in the transit authority’s history.

“We want to hear from people across the region, of all ages and backgrounds,” said TransLink CEO Kevin Desmond in a news release.

“Regardless of how you get around, we want to hear from drivers, pedestrians, cyclists, and transit users. With Metro Vancouver experiencing rapid growth, the impacts of climate change, new technologies, and shifting demographics over the next 30 years, we want input from the broadest cross-section of people possible.”

The 30-year strategy, called Transport 2050, will lay out the region’s transportation vision, strategies and priorities. Previous regional strategies were adopted in 2013, 2008 and 1993.

The outreach campaign will involve soliciting feedback from those living in the 23 jurisdictions in Metro Vancouver and adjoining regions; meeting with First Nations, students, multicultural communities and new Canadians; and roundtables with elected officials, businesses, accessibility groups and the goods movement sector.

There will also be exhibits at public events and social media campaigns.

People will be asked about their values, concerns and priorities, ideas about the future of transportation, key issues affecting the region, and opinions on new modes of transportation.

“Transport 2050 is a great opportunity for people to have their say on decisions that will help shape communities and the Metro Vancouver region for many years to come,” said Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing Selina Robinson in a news release.

The public engagement will last until September, after which staff will evaluate the ideas and, in late 2020, create the final plan.

Take the survey at Transport2050.ca.

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TransLink issues open call to make waiting for bus or Skytrain more pleasant

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TransLink has issued an open call for submissions to make waiting for the bus or SkyTrain more pleasant — although it won’t include large investments into brick-and-mortar projects to make that happen.

Kevin Desmond, the regional transportation authority’s CEO, says the goal of the open call is to partner with the private sector, students or academics to come up with better ideas than the transit authority could on its own.

“We want to tap into innovators who can move a lot faster than we can as a public organization,” Desmond said.

Desmond points to projects like Google Maps and the Transit App — which use open-source data on bus and train routes to help people plan their trips —  as successful public-private partnerships that help transit customers without costing TransLink any money.

The successful proposal for the open call will get support from TransLink in the form of funding to develop the project and access to TransLink data or information. 

But Desmond says the open call likely won’t fund brick-and-mortar projects that also affect transit users’ experiences — like washrooms, for example. Those are part of a different project underway.

While the open call may not fund new washrooms, Desmond says it may fund an app that helps connect transit users to public washrooms near transit hubs. 

The goal of the open call is to stretch the agency’s money by partnering with an external agency or person, Desmond says. That way TransLink can focus its money on operating more trains and buses. 

“More and more, public organizations are going to be reaching out to private sector and private sector innovators to come up with great new ideas,” he said. 

Focus on core services

Mike Soron, founding director of public transportation advocacy group Abundant Transit, says he’s onboard with TransLink stretching its dollars to create better experiences for its users. 

However, he noted that safe, secure, comfortable washroom facilities for people should not be considered innovations. “That should be considered a core responsibility of TransLink.” 

Soron agrees that the private sector is better poised to find innovative technical solutions — and accept the financial risks of doing so.

This is the second open call TransLink has issued. Last year it focused on the theme “seamless mobility.”

The successful proposal was a partnership between car and bicycle-sharing companies Modo, Evo and Mobi to provide their services at transit hubs so people can easily switch from one form of transportation to another. 

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TransLink still losing millions to fare evaders but it’s not tracking numbers

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Three years after spending $200 million to install fare gates at its SkyTrain and Canada Line stations, TransLink hasn’t collected any data to show they are cutting down on fare evasion. Meanwhile, the number of tickets related to fare gate offences has barely slowed.

TransLink acknowledges it continues to lose revenue to fare evaders but hasn’t measured evasion since 2014, said spokeswoman Jillian Drews. She said TransLink is studying ways to track fare evasion including “manual counting using CCTV, broadening the use of automatic people counters and programming fare gates to count the number of times fare gate panels are forced.”

“There are a lot of smart people working on it,” said Drews, but they haven’t been able to estimate the number of fare dodgers because “they don’t tap in and out.”

“It’s ridiculous that they have put so much of our money into this and yet they don’t bother to check and actually monitor how well these gates are working,” said Kris Sims, B.C. director of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation.

“There is strong evidence our fare gates deter fare evaders,” said Drews, pointing out that annual fare revenue rose by $30 million for the first nine months the fare gates were operational on the SkyTrain and Canada lines from April to December 2016. The Evergreen extension to the Millennium Line opened in December 2016, which makes revenue comparisons difficult in the ensuing years.

Tampering with fare gates — including following a paying passenger through the gates without tapping a Compass card — has become such a problem that Transit Police have been given new powers to ticket that specific offence.

The tickets cover a wide range of offences but the “majority of these incidents are associated to officers’ active observations and enforcement … of the misuse of fare gates,” according to a report presented to the TransLink board in December by Transit Police.

Those violation tickets have climbed 23 per cent under the Provincial Transit Conduct Law banning fare gate misuse, while violations under the law banning other behaviour on or near TransLink property, including misusing an emergency exit, selling or trading proof of purchase, or obstructing or lying to a police officer are up 39 per cent. Each violation carries a fine of $173 for those ticketed.

Transit Police spokeswoman Anne Drennan said it was hoped once people saw they would be ticketed for gate crashing, the number of offences would drop.

But instead they went up: There were about 6,600 of the new violation tickets issued in 2016. That jumped to 14,000 in 2017 and 16,400 in 2018.

Meanwhile, the number of fines issued by Transit Police for fare evasion specifically has dropped the past two years. There were 23,400 fines for fare evasion in 2016, 19,000 in 2017 and 14,500 in 2018.

Drews said TransLink did 850,000 security checks last year for fares on buses and at bus loops.

In Toronto last week, the city’s auditor general released her audit on fare evasion on the Toronto Transit Commission and found it accounted for 5.4 per cent of total revenue, more than twice what the TTC estimated. She said TTC lost $60 million in revenue and that was “probably understated.” The TTC audit found fare evasion to be highest — 15 per cent — on streetcars, where there is unsupervised all-door boarding.

The TTC board chair called the evasion levels “critical” and “frustrating” and the mayor said he, too, was frustrated and mused about publicly shaming offenders.

The TTC accepted the auditor general’s 27 recommendations, including hiring 45 more fare inspectors, issuing more tickets (fines range between $235 and $435) and developing a public education campaign.

Warren Mirko, a communications consultant and regular user of public transit, said there may have been a drop at first, but “I see more and more people (illegally) going through the fare gates every day,” including students with knapsacks, people who appear homeless and even well-dressed people.

“When you see other people doing it and you see that nobody’s watching, why wouldn’t you do it?”

Stephen Rees, a former TransLink planner who has blogged extensively on fare evasion, said there will always be evaders.

“(The new gates) were supposed to eliminate it, but you just get a different kind because they get better at it,” he said.

But he said it’s not cost-effective to spend more to prevent it than it costs in losses, and if you increase the number of fare inspectors, it could intimidate and drive away paying users.

Rees said there are ways to track fare evasion, including viewing CCTV footage as the Toronto audit did, but he added, “What gets measured, gets improved. So by not measuring, you’re not required to improve it.”

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TransLink mayors’ council votes “yes” on SkyTrain to UBC

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Buses and riders at the UBC bus exchange on January 30 2019.

Gerry Kahrmann / PNG

The TransLink Mayors’ Council has endorsed SkyTrain as the technology for the transit extension to the University of British Columbia.

At a meeting Friday morning, the Mayors’ Council on Regional Transportation voted in favour of moving ahead with planning for SkyTrain, with only two mayors opposed. The decision was in line with a recommendation made by TransLink staff in late January.

Ahead of the decision, Vancouver Mayor Kennedy Stewart said that in the interest of acting “collaboratively” on a regional decision, he would not be calling for a weighted vote.

Surrey Mayor Doug McCallum told the council he’d heard from UBC students and employees in his city who were looking forward to getting to campus by rapid transit.

“We’re certainly fully supportive of it,” he said.

Several mayors said they supported transit to UBC, but had concerns about the cost of the line and its priority over other transportation projects.

“It is not the only important transit project in the region,” said City of North Vancouver Mayor Linda Buchanan, adding “we need to look at the long-term needs of the region.”

White Rock Mayor Darryl Walker worried the council seemed to be “rushing headlong into something several years out,” without really knowing what future growth of the region would look like.

Coquitlam Mayor Richard Stewart had questions about SNC-Lavalin and its involvement in future SkyTrain projects.

A staff report included in the meeting’s agenda said staff believe “an extension of the SkyTrain Millennium Line is the only technology option that can provide sufficient capacity to meet demand beyond 2045.”

The report also noted other potentially lower-cost alternatives, including light rail transit (LRT), had been “thoroughly explored and eliminated because of capacity limitations and deliverability challenges.”

Ridership for a new rapid transit line from Arbutus to UBC is projected to exceed 118,000 in 2045, which is more than the current Millennium Line corridor.

During the meeting, the mayor’s council also heard from several people who work at UBC and supported the line. Some spoke about their difficulties getting to and from campus on existing transit.

A representative of UBC’s Alma Mater Society said the line would promote “accessibility and equity of education and employment.”

Engineering student Kevin Wong told the council he commutes for two to three hours each day, some days leaving home at 6 a.m. and not returning until 11 p.m.

“SkyTrain to UBC would cut my commute in half,” he said.

Vancouver Mayor Kennedy Stewart has been a strong advocate of extending rapid transit to UBC.

In late January, Vancouver city council voted nine-to-two to endorse a SkyTrain extension from Arbutus Street to UBC, and to direct staff to “advance the design development including public consultation to determine station locations, vertical and horizontal alignment.”

Procurement has begun for the Millennium Line extension from VCC-Clark Station to Arbutus through a bored tunnel under Broadway. It’s estimated that the project will cost $2.83 billion and be completed in 2025.

The second phase of the 10-year transportation plan for the region set aside $3 million to develop concept designs and undertake pre-business-case work for the line to UBC. The last evaluation of options for the line was done in 2012, so last year TransLink hired a consultant to do a study to consider technology, operating assumptions, demand forecasts and costs.

Four options had been considered: optimized B-Line bus service, light rail from Arbutus to UBC, light rail from Main Street-Science World to UBC and SkyTrain from Arbutus to UBC.

The updated study found that by 2030 the B-Line and parallel corridors would be overcrowded. By 2045, both light-rail routes would be near or over-capacity, and parallel corridors would be crowded. SkyTrain would also be nearing capacity, however, it could be doubled with higher frequency and longer trains.

A preliminary cost estimate, in 2018 dollars, for a fully tunnelled SkyTrain extension would be $3.3 billion-$3.8 billion. However, the report notes inflation would push the cost to $4.1 billion-$4.8 billion if procurement begins in 2025 and the project is completed in 2030.

With files by Jennifer Saltman

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‘TransLink debt’ from fare evasion tickets affects B.C. teens’ future

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‘If we had an equitable fare structure, including free transit for children and youth and a sliding scale for adults, we would have accessibility built in for the lifespan of all community members,’ says Viveca Ellis, coordinator of the #AllOnBoard campaign for free transit for youths. ‘We would not have people in the position of having to steal a bus ride because they can’t afford it.’

‘If we had an equitable fare structure, including free transit for children and youth and a sliding scale for adults, we would have accessibility built in for the lifespan of all community members,’ says Viveca Ellis, coordinator of the #AllOnBoard campaign for free transit for youths. ‘We would not have people in the position of having to steal a bus ride because they can’t afford it.’

Mike Bell / PNG

TransLink should immediately stop ticketing youths for fare evasion so they no longer accumulate the kind of debt that can affect their credit history for years, according to the #AllOnBoard campaign for free transit for youths.

What’s happening, said Viveca Ellis, coordinator for the campaign, is that young people end up with what’s known as “TransLink debt” that they can’t repay. That debt can follow them around for years and prevent them from getting a driver’s licence.

“We’re asking TransLink to immediately end the harm of ticketing,” she said.

“It’s the bad credit that really sets people up for lifelong poverty.”

Transit, she said, should be as funded in the same way as education and health care.

“If we had an equitable fare structure, including free transit for children and youth and a sliding scale for adults, we would have accessibility built in for the lifespan of all community members. We would not have people in the position of having to steal a bus ride because they can’t afford it.”

Ellis said the #AllOnBoard campaign has discovered thousands of low income youths with TransLink debt. Once the debt goes to a collection agency, a person may be prohibited from getting a driver’s licence and/or renewing their vehicle insurance.

Last year, TransLink said it wrote an estimated 16,000 fare evasion tickets at $173 each. Of that number, less than four per cent, or about 640, were written to minors. If a fare evasion ticket is unpaid after one year, it can increase by $100.

A stroller is pushed through one of the fare gates at Cambie and Broadway Skytrain station. (Photo: Arlen Redekop, PNG files)

A stroller is pushed through one of the fare gates at Cambie and Broadway Skytrain station. (Photo: Arlen Redekop, PNG files)

Arlen Redekop /

PNG files

A TransLink official said earlier that the the cost of providing free access to riders up to age 18 “would be in the tens of millions a year.” But the official said TransLink couldn’t provide a more detailed answer until it studies the issue in more depth.

In a survey in November and December last year, #AllOnBoard asked 24 youths if they had fare evasion fines. Some said they had paid off their fines; others replied by saying “I have like 4,” “Over $500” and “800.”

Not being able to get a driver’s licence was identified as the main impact of their fare evasion debt.

“I couldn’t get my licence,” one youth said in the survey. “I owed so much from years ago and even being on the platform without my ticket validated when I had a book of tickets to use but the officer wouldn’t let me validate it when I was in a rush.”

Vancouver Coun. Jean Swanson.

Vancouver Coun. Jean Swanson.

Nick Procaylo /

PNG files

Ellis said what the campaign has also found is that there are at least 11 different programs operated by charities and non-profits in Vancouver that pay off TransLink debt for at-risk youths. That means groups supported by city taxpayers end up paying the debt so the youths can access services.

That makes no sense to Vancouver Coun. Jean Swanson.

“It’s just a ridiculous, vicious circle,” Swanson said.

At Tuesday’s council meeting, Swanson’s motion for the city to endorse the #AllOnBoard campaign was moved to Wednesday. Eighteen people have signed up to speak about the motion.

#AllOnBoard has already has the support of Port Moody and New Westminster.

Last year, Seattle city council voted to spend $7 million ($9.1 million Canadian) to provide free bus passes to 16,000 high school students.

Calgary Transit addresses poverty in its sliding-scale fares based on income. A low-income monthly pass ranges from $5.30 for a single person household earning $12,699 or less to $53 a month for a household of seven people earning  $56,997 to $67,055.

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