A Proposal For Modest Fare Increases

The Regional Transportation Commissioner, part of Translink’s labyrinthine governance structure, is seeking feedback on the proposed AddFare to the Airport and FareSaver price increases. I submitted comments as follows, and I hope everybody writes in with their own comments! (To the Commissioner, I mean; you are welcome to comment on this blog as well, but I don’t think the Commissioner reads it.)

(Hat Tip to the Buzzer Blog for announcing this and linking to that governance schematic.)

Proposed Canada Line YVR AddFare

I support the additional AddFare on the section of the Canada Line that goes to the airport.

I am sure that many prospective users of this route will be unsure about how much they have to pay (if they even notice that there are different fares for different zones). As visitors and infrequently travelling residents, they will likely be only occasional users of the transit system. Thus the additional complexity and cost will probably bewilder tourists and anger residents enough to make the alternatives more appealing — taxis, shuttles, rental cars, etc.

With these people out of the way, there will be more room for me and my luggage. I am a regular transit user, and I’m certainly willing to pay an extra couple of bucks for an uncrowded ride to the airport. The Canada Line is currently operating near capacity already (if the lineups and crowding at rush hour are any indication). Can you imagine what a madhouse it would be around Christmas holidays if people take transit to the airport?

Proposed Fare Increases

I oppose the proposed increase to the cost of a FareSaver book.

The transit system appears to be at or above capacity during peak travel periods. (At least, every bus or train I’ve ever taken during rush hour has been overcrowded and had line-ups, often requiring drivers to leave people behind.) Ordinarily this would suggest that Translink should increase capacity. Unfortunately, the province and cities appear reluctant to provide the funding to do so (and unwilling to grant Translink the fiscal tools to raise revenues itself). The only alternative is to decrease ridership.

I believe that peak hour ridership can best be decreased by making monthly passes more expensive relative to FareSavers and cash fares. With the proposed fare increases for monthly passes, the price of FareSavers will be closer to the “break-even point.” Most people would continue to buy monthly passes for the predictability and convenience, but some will switch over to FareSavers.

Once this happens, these users are more likely to commute by car on occasion, since the marginal cost of an additional bus ride is now high enough to notice. Hopefully this will take some of the strain off the transit system at peak hours, and I will be able to get a seat.

On the other hand, by keeping FareSavers cheap, we can ensure that occasional transit users will continue to make off-peak trips for shopping, recreation, etc. There is sufficient off-peak capacity while I’m at work, so we should continue to encourage this occasional use with low FareSaver prices.

Postscript

You guys noticed how I put the words “modest” and “proposal” in the title of this post, right?

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