TransLink (British Columbia)
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TransLink, formally the South Coast British Columbia Transportation Authority, is the statutory authority responsible for the regional transportation network of Metro Vancouver in British Columbia, Canada, including public transport, major roads and bridges. Its main operating facilities are located in the city of New Westminster.
TransLink's head office in New Westminster
|Formed||January 1, 1998|
|Headquarters||400 – 287 Nelson's Court |
New Westminster, BC
|Annual budget||$1.4 billion for 2012|
TransLink was created in 1998 as the Greater Vancouver Transportation Authority (GVTA) and was fully implemented in April 1999 by the Government of British Columbia to replace BC Transit in the Greater Vancouver Regional District and assume many transportation responsibilities previously held by the provincial government. TransLink is responsible for various modes of transportation in the Metro Vancouver region as well as the West Coast Express, which extends into the Fraser Valley Regional District (FVRD). On November 29, 2007, the province of British Columbia approved legislation changing the governance structure and official name of the organization.
Buses in Metro Vancouver are operated by three companies. Coast Mountain Bus Company operates regular transit buses, generally powered by diesel or natural gas, in most of the region's municipalities, in addition to trolley buses, primarily within the city of Vancouver. The District Municipality of West Vancouver operates the Blue Bus system serving West Vancouver and Lions Bay. First Transit is contracted by TransLink to operate nine community shuttle bus routes in Langley and on Bowen Island. The schedules, fares, and routes of these services are integrated with other transit services operated by TransLink.
Within the city of Vancouver, buses generally run on a grid system, with most trolley bus routes operating radially out of downtown and along north–south arteries, and most diesel buses providing east–west crosstown service, with the University of British Columbia (UBC) as their western terminus. Outside the city of Vancouver, most buses operate on a hub-and-spoke system along feeder routes that connect with SkyTrain, SeaBus, West Coast Express, or other regional centres.
Three high-capacity, high-frequency B-Line express routes use mostly 18.3-metre (60 ft) articulated buses, rounding out the regional public transportation backbone provided by SkyTrain, SeaBus, and West Coast Express.
Electric trolley buses operate on major routes in the city of Vancouver, with one route extending to neighbouring Burnaby. Most trolley bus routes operate in a north–south direction. Trolley buses receive electricity from a network of overhead wires. In the fall of 2006, TransLink introduced a new generation of electric trolley buses, replacing the old models built in the early 1980s. The new trolley buses have low floors and are fully wheelchair accessible.
Many local routes are served by buses manufactured by New Flyer and Nova Bus. TransLink has begun using hybrid diesel-electric buses. Some suburban routes use Orion highway coaches with high-back reclining seats, overhead reading lights and luggage racks.
In 2007, all TransLink buses became designated fare paid zones. Under this system, a rider is required to be in possession of a valid fare (transfer or transit pass) while on board the bus and produce it upon request by a transit official. Enforcement of fares is conducted by Transit Security officers. On all B-Lines, larger, 18.3-metre (60 ft), three-door buses allow passengers to board through rear doors. As they are bypassing the driver and fare box, they must have a valid fare in their possession. On all other buses, passengers are required to board through the front doors and should produce a valid fare to the bus driver. Fare inspections on buses are normally conducted by Transit Security officers and on occasion by the South Coast British Columbia Transportation Authority Police Service. Failure to produce proof of payment may result in ejection from the bus and/or a fine of $173.
TransLink also operates a late-night bus service, called NightBus, on 10 routes extending from downtown throughout the city and to several suburbs. NightBuses leave downtown Vancouver until 4:30 a.m. For the safety of passengers late at night, Transit Security officers ride some of the night buses and respond to calls onboard others. These buses are popular since SkyTrain ends service at 1:30 a.m. but downtown clubs and bars do not close until 3 a.m.
The first SkyTrain line, which later became known as the Expo Line, was built in 1985 as a transit showcase for Expo 86. The automated rapid transit system has become an important part of the region's transportation network. The Expo Line operates from downtown Vancouver to southern Burnaby, New Westminster, and Surrey.
The system was expanded with the opening of the Millennium Line in 2002, which links eastern New Westminster and northern Burnaby to Vancouver. The Millennium Line was expected to eventually branch northeast through Coquitlam and Port Coquitlam. Construction on the extension of the line to Coquitlam, now known as the Evergreen Extension, began in 2012. The extension began operation on December 2, 2016.
The Canada Line, which was opened on August 17, 2009, runs underground through Vancouver and then along an elevated guideway with two branches, to Richmond and Vancouver International Airport. It meets the Expo Line at Waterfront Station in downtown Vancouver, but it is operationally independent and there is no track connection between them.
The Expo Line and Millennium Line are operated by British Columbia Rapid Transit Company Ltd., a subsidiary of TransLink. The Canada Line is operated by ProTrans BC, a division of SNC-Lavalin.
West Coast ExpressEdit
The West Coast Express is a commuter railway connecting downtown Vancouver to Metro Vancouver municipalities to the east and terminating in Mission in the FVRD, north of the Fraser River. It is operated by the British Columbia Rapid Transit Company.
SeaBus is a passenger ferry service across Burrard Inlet between Vancouver and the North Shore municipalities that is operated by Coast Mountain Bus Company and integrated with the transit system. It holds approximately 400 people and sails every 15 minutes during rush hour.
|Fare type||One Zone||Two Zones||Three Zones||YVR AddFare|
|As of January 2008|
|As of January 2013|
|As of July 1, 2017|
|As of July 1, 2018|
All transit fare holders are permitted unlimited transfers within a 90-minute period on the bus or on SkyTrain or SeaBus.
Concession fares apply to children aged 5–13, seniors aged 65 and over, and youths aged 14–18 with identification proving age. Children aged 4 and younger ride for free. Zone fares apply weekdays before 6:30 p.m. During evenings and on weekends, passengers can travel throughout the system on a one-zone fare. Students from all public post-secondary institutions in the Lower Mainland, with the exception of the Justice Institute of British Columbia, receive a U-Pass, which is included in student fees and is valid across all three zones.
A Fare Paid Zone is a clearly marked territory on which passengers must have valid proof of payment and produce it for inspection upon request of a Transit Employee. Initially, these were only in effect in SkyTrain and SeaBus stations and vehicles until June 25, 2007, when the law was changed. Now, all buses, including West Vancouver buses, are designated Fare Paid Zones. The reason for implementing Fare Paid Zones on buses was to remove the responsibility of fare enforcement from bus drivers, as too many of them were being assaulted in disputes over fare payment. Fare enforcement on all buses are now the responsibility of the Transit Police and Transit Security Department. Officers may conduct a fare inspection at anytime. Those who fail to pay the fare or fail to produce a valid fare could be removed from the transit system and/or fined $173. Currently, only Transit Security and Transit Police have the authority to issue fare evasion fines. Customer Service Attendants and other transit employees may request compliance in regards to fares, but have no authority to issue a fine.
Failure to pay the fare or produce valid proof of payment is an offence. Fare inspections are conducted by the South Coast British Columbia Transportation Authority Police Service and Transit Security. Fraudulent use of fares (e.g., using a fake pass, using another person's non-transferable pass,) may result in criminal charges. Passengers found without a valid fare or who fail to produce valid proof of payment are served with an Infraction Ticket of $173, under the Fare Collection Regulation. In September 2012, amendments to the South Coast British Columbia Transportation Authority Act came into effect, making TransLink responsible for collection of fines issued by Transit Police and Transit Security. Since October 5, 2015, all bus travel is considered one-zone travel and no additional fares are required for crossing fare boundaries on the bus.October 5, 2015
On April 4, 2016, Translink's new fare gates were implemented for ridership on SkyTrain and SeaBus. To open the fare gates, to enter or exit the system, a Compass Card or Compass Ticket (purchased from a Compass Vending Machine) must be used. Compass Cards may be used to pay fares on and buses, although FareSaver tickets may still be used on buses. Buses continue issue paper passes for fares paid in cash. Neither FareSavers nor the transfer tickets may be used to open fare gates. Compass Cards work on all transit services using a tap in method to pay fares. Tap out however is not required on buses. The cards may be loaded with monthly passes, day passes, or stored value, or any combination, with the ability to auto-load the fare choice. Annual passes have been eliminated.
After the December 2015 TransLink announcement that the gates would close on April 4, 2016, groups working with those who have disabilities complained about potential accessibility problems with the fare gate system. TransLink's response was to have staff assist those with disabilities enter or exit the system, or to leave the gates open when staff were not present. This lasted until July 25, 2016, when the gates were fully closed. No data have been presented to indicate if the system has reduced fare evasion, estimated at between $6 and $7 million per year, which was the promise of the new $194 million system, although preliminary data showed that revenue had increased by 7% after its introduction.
On May 22, 2018, the ability to pay with contactless Visa and Mastercard credit cards (including mobile payment software) was added to Compass readers. Fares paid in this manner are charged at the full cash fares.
Coast Mountain Bus Company operates TransLink's Transit Security department. Transit security officers are mobile, ride buses and trains, inspect fares, issue fines and patrol TransLink properties. They work closely with transit police to ensure safety throughout the transit network. Transit security officers are authorized to arrest persons committing criminal offences on or in relation to any TransLink property, under the Canadian Criminal Code. They are also authorized to enforce the Transit Conduct and Safety Regulations and the Transit Tariff Bylaw. The Transit Security department is also responsible for the CCTV camera system aboard buses.
On November 14, 2006, the Canadian government announced that it would spend $37 million for improvements to transit security across Canada, including $9.8 million for the Vancouver area. CCTV cameras have been installed on all TransLink buses newer than 2006, except for Community Shuttle units.
TransLink replaced its special provincial constables, who held limited policing power, with the Metro Vancouver Transit Police in December 2005. In contrast to the former TransLink special constables, transit police constables have full police powers both on and off of TransLink property. They are based in New Westminster, BC.
Shortly after its inception, TransLink's board of directors approved replacement of the old BC Transit colour with TransLink's new blue and yellow colour scheme, or livery. It also created brands for the agency's different services, each with a different logo based on these colours, with the exception of the West Coast Express. The board decided against changing West Coast Express's purple colour to blue, since purple and yellow create a premium brand differentiable from TransLink's blue and yellow livery. Repainting of vehicles did not incur any additional costs, as it was completed during regular maintenance repaints or new vehicle purchases. At the time of approval, TransLink estimated that it would take until the end of 2007 to convert the entire fleet to the new livery.
Major Road NetworkEdit
TransLink works with municipalities within the region to plan and maintain the Major Road Network (MRN). The MRN comprises most major regional arteries which are not part of the provincial highway system.
It includes 2,200 lane-kilometres (1,367 lane-mi) of roadways. TransLink coordinates and funds major capital projects on the Major Road Network. For minor projects, TransLink contributes up to half of the costs of municipal capital projects, up to the maximum funding allocated to each municipality.
As a part of the MRN, TransLink also owns and maintains five bridges within the region:
- Canada Line bike and pedestrian bridge
- Golden Ears Bridge
- Knight Street Bridge
- Pattullo Bridge
- Westham Island Bridge
In December 2018, 236 lane-kilometres (147 lane-mi) of roadway was added to the MRN. This was the largest one-time addition to the MRN since the arterial roadway network designation was created in 1998.
TransLink allocates funding to each municipality for transit improvements, such as transit priority signals, queue-jumping lanes for buses, and bus lanes. TransLink contributes up to half of the costs of municipal capital projects, up to the maximum funding allocated to each municipality.
TransLink employs several engineers and planners who administer its bicycle program. TransLink works with many cycling stakeholders, such as the Vancouver Area Cycling Coalition.
TransLink invests $6 million in cycling each year (as of 2007). This money is spread among capital and operating projects, with some allocated to cost-sharing programs, which result in additional investment in cycling.
Metro Vancouver has a growing network of cycling paths. TransLink allocates funding to each municipality for cycling improvements, such as bike paths, through a cost-sharing program called the Bicycle Infrastructure Capital Cost Sharing Program. TransLink contributes up to half of the costs of municipal capital projects, up to the maximum funding allocated to each municipality. Municipalities are eligible to apply for a share of the available funding each year. Most of the funding is allocated this way, while some funding is available in a competitive process called Regional Needs. The funding process is overseen by the Bicycle Working Group, composed of municipal cycling staff.
TransLink also produces a regional cycling map, which is available for sale or as a free PDF file downloadable from its website. Many municipalities also produce their own local cycling maps.
TransLink supports many cycling-related community initiatives and events, particularly Bike Month, held every June.
All modes of transit in Metro Vancouver carry bicycles. Most buses operated by TransLink have bike racks, supplied by SportWorks. Bikes are allowed on SeaBus. Bikes are also allowed on SkyTrain, except during weekday rush hours in the peak direction of travel (inbound to Vancouver in the morning rush hour and outbound from Vancouver in the evening rush hour).
TransLink installs and maintains bicycle parking racks and lockers at SkyTrain stations and transit interchanges through private contractors.
All vehicles, stations, and facilities are fully accessible; however, several issues exist on parts of the system, notably wheelchair accessibility in some areas. Improvements have been made, and accessibility issues became particularly important with the hosting of the Paralympic Winter Games in 2010. Because of this, TransLink initiated the Access Transit Project, whose final report was completed in June 2007.
All buses in the TransLink fleet are accessible, with most being low-floor vehicles that have ramps, although some are high-floor vehicles that have specially designed lifts. However, some stops are considered inaccessible if there is insufficient room to deploy the lifts or ramps.
There is space for two wheelchairs on each bus, and the wheelchair area is also used for walkers and baby strollers. Passengers using wheelchairs have priority for these positions, and lower-priority users (such as those with strollers) are required to vacate the space as needed.
In August 2006, TransLink began replacing its entire fleet of inaccessible electric trolley buses with 188 standard 12.2-metre (40 ft) low-floor accessible trolley buses. In 2008 and 2009, it purchased 74 new articulated 18.3-metre (60 ft) low-floor accessible trolley buses, which are used on routes #3 (Main), #8 (Fraser), #10 (Granville), and #20 (Victoria). By the end of 2009, the entire fleet of trolley buses was low-floor and accessible.
In late 2008, TransLink introduced voice announcement systems on most buses to help those with vision impairments or unfamiliar with the region and to allow operators to focus on driving instead of making announcements. The annunciators use a computer-generated voice to call out bus stops and other messages, using GPS technology installed on each bus to identify the bus's location and the next stop. There were a few problems with the system, however, such as audio quality and volume levels.
All of the SkyTrain network, including stations and vehicles, is accessible. Older Bombardier Mark I cars have one wheelchair-designated spot, while the Bombardier Mark II and Mark III cars, along with the Hyundai Rotem cars, have two.
Some newer accessibility features introduced include Bombardier Mark II and Mark III cars with door indicator lights and LED route maps.
All SeaBus vessels and both Lonsdale Quay and Waterfront Stations are accessible.
West Coast ExpressEdit
All West Coast Express trains and stations are accessible. Ramps are provided at stations for boarding, and trains have two wheelchair spaces on most cars, and an accessible washroom.
HandyDART is a supplementary system that provides transportation service to those who are unable to use the regular system due to mobility problems or a lack of accessible transit. HandyDART service is operated by seven different contractors throughout Metro Vancouver, most of which are not-for-profit corporations.
HandyDART users apply for a pass and pay for each trip. Each trip must be pre-booked, up to one week in advance, and is subject to availability at the desired time. Each contractor operates regionally, meaning that it is not always possible to use HandyDART for an entire trip (for example, from Burnaby to Vancouver).
The Mayors' Council is composed of the 21 mayors of Metro Vancouver municipalities and the Chief of Tsawwassen First Nation, who represent the interests of citizens of the region. It approves plans prepared by TransLink, including transportation plans, regional funding, and borrowing limits. Each year, the Mayors' Council appoints three new directors to TransLink's Board of Directors from a shortlist of candidates prepared by the Screening Panel.
Under the terms of provincial legislation, each year the Screening Panel prepares a shortlist of candidates for TransLink's Board of Directors. The shortlist must consist of at least five candidates for the three available positions on the Board of Directors. The Screening Panel is composed of five members. Each of the following organizations must appoint one person to the Screening Panel:
- Vancouver Board of Trade
- Chartered Accountants of BC
- Greater Vancouver Gateway Council
- British Columbia's Minister of Transportation
- Mayors' Council
Board of DirectorsEdit
The TransLink board is made up of people selected based on their skills and expertise, who must act in the best interests of TransLink. They do not represent any other interests or constituencies. They are responsible for hiring, compensating, and monitoring the performance of the CEO and for providing oversight of TransLink's strategic planning, finances, major capital projects, and operations. While the Board conducts four public meetings a year, most of its deliberations are conducted in closed meetings.
|Lorraine Cunningham||board chair, appointed January 1, 2013|
|Marcella Szel||appointed January 1, 2012|
|Andy Ross||appointed August 2018|
|Murray Dinwoodie||appointed August 2015|
|Larry Beasley||appointed January 1, 2016|
|Tony Gugliotta||appointed January 1, 2016|
|Anne Giardini||appointed January 1, 2017|
|Sarah Clark||appointed January 1, 2017|
|Janet Austin||appointed January 1, 2017|
|Karen Horcher||appointed January 1, 2018|
(Mayor, City of New Westminster)
|chair, appointed November 16, 2018|
(Mayor, Township of Langley)
|vice chair, appointed November 16, 2018|
Chief executive officerEdit
The CEO runs TransLink, as directed by the board, is responsible for preparing plans and reports for approval by the board and for building and operating TransLink's transportation services in line with its annual and long-term plans.
Regional Transportation CommissionerEdit
Provincial legislation passed in June 2014 dissolved the position of the Regional Transportation Commissioner. Prior to this time, the Regional Transportation Commissioner approved all cash fare increases greater than the rate of inflation. The Commissioner also approved TransLink's plans for annual customer satisfaction surveys, its customer complaint process, and any proposed sale of major assets. The Regional Transportation Commissioner operated separately from the Mayors' Council, the TransLink Board of Directors, and TransLink staff.
Criticism of governance modelEdit
In 2013, a report commissioned by the Mayors' Council criticized TransLink's governance model, stating that TransLink lacked "accountability to the population being served, which is almost completely missing from the present arrangements". The report also stated that the absence of mechanisms to "ensure accountability, effectiveness, and efficiency" made TransLink's governance "unique in the world and not in a good way".
This section needs to be updated.December 2017)(
On March 8, 2007, BC Minister of Transportation Kevin Falcon announced a restructuring of TransLink. Major changes include new revenue-generating measures, a restructuring of the executive of the body, and increases in the areas under TransLink's jurisdiction.
The reorganization of TransLink proposed the following changes:
- The old board will be replaced by a Council of Mayors from the municipalities in the area served by TransLink, a board of non-political experts, and a Regional Transportation Commissioner appointed by the Council of Mayors.
- The provincial government will set the regional transportation vision.
- The Board will guide the operation of TransLink as per the 3- and 10-year transportation plans. It will also develop the options for 3- and 10-year plans; one option will be a base option that maintains the status quo.
- The Council of Mayors will vote on which 3- and 10-year transportation plan options to adopt. Mayors will receive one vote per 20,000 people or portion thereof in their jurisdiction.
- The TransLink Independent Commissioner will ensure that TransLink's 3- and 10-year transportation plans are consistent with the regional transportation vision set by the provincial government.
- TransLink's jurisduction is initially planned to be expanded to include Mission, Abbotsford, and Squamish. In the long term, this may be further expanded to include the area along the Sea-to-Sky Highway as far north as Pemberton and east to Hope.
- TransLink will be funded using an approximate ratio of 1/3 of revenue from fuel taxes, 1/3 of revenue from property taxes, and 1/3 of revenue from other non-government sources (e.g., fares, advertising, property development).
- TransLink will hold the power to increase funding from fuel tax from 12 cents per litre (55 cents per Imp gal or 45 cents per US gal) to 15 cents per litre (68 cents per Imp gal or 57 cents per US gal). In 2012, the rate was increased to 17 cents.
- TransLink will increase funding by raising property taxes, parking sales taxes, and other sources of revenue (e.g., fares, property development).
- TransLink will eliminate the parking tax (different from parking sales tax) and the BC Hydro transportation levy.
- AirCare will be removed from TransLink's authority and will become the responsibility of Metro Vancouver.
- The provincial government will continue to contribute toward rapid transit projects, but funding will be contingent on municipalities increasing population densities around planned rapid transit stations.
Falcon had called the old board "dysfunctional", saying that board members were focused on the interests of their own municipalities instead of the broader interests of the region. According to Falcon, the board of directors had "no ability there to develop the skill-set to understand major, multi-billion projects." British Columbia New Democratic Party critic David Chudnovsky responded that the reorganization was "ludicrous" and that its purpose was "to get power away from our elected municipal politicians because once in a while they disagree with the aggressive privatization agenda of Mr. Falcon". Chudnovsky was also worried about the consequences of a property development slowdown.
On April 26, 2007, the provincial government introduced legislation to restructure TransLink. The proposed successor body was to be known as the South Coast British Columbia Transportation Authority. The legislation received Royal Assent on November 29, 2007, and came into effect on January 1, 2008, with some parts of the organization, like the Council of Mayors, beginning functions the day after the legislation was approved.
On March 19, 2008, the Vancouver Sun reported that TransLink was launching a real estate division that could produce over $1.5 billion in revenue over the ensuing ten years.
In 2015, residents of Metro Vancouver were asked to vote in a mail-in plebiscite on a proposal to adopt a new 0.5% sales tax to fund improvements in transit infrastructure, and completion of current TransLink projects. Ballots were mailed in March, and had to be returned by 8:00 pm on May 29, 2015.
The tax was designed to generate annual revenue of $250 million to help fund an $8 billion, 10-year transit plan including the following projects:
- Adding bus service and 11 new B-Line rapid bus routes.
- Increasing service on SkyTrain, SeaBus, and West Coast Express.
- Maintaining and upgrading of major roads.
- Building a new Pattullo Bridge.
- Building LRT connecting Surrey Centre with Guildford, Newton, and Langley.
- Extending the Millennium Line along Broadway in Vancouver.
- Extending cycling and pedestrian walkway networks.
The tax was supported by environmental groups, student groups and nearly every local government. Opposition to the tax was headed by the Canadian Taxpayers Federation who drew the public's attention to purported misuse of funds by TransLink. A widely circulated statistic was the fact that TransLink had the highest cost per revenue passenger of the major Canadian transit agencies. Supporters countered with other analyses that showed TransLink to be ranked first by cost per service hour, service hours per $1 million and service hours per capita. The Yes campaign outspent the No campaign by $5.8 million to $40,000. Surveys conducted by Insights West showed the Yes side ahead in December 2014, but support dropped to 37 per cent the week before the ballots were mailed. In July 2015, the tax was rejected, with 62% of 700,000 voters in opposition and a majority opposed in 23 out of 25 voting regions.
After the failure of the plebiscite, several executives at TransLink were removed from their positions.
10-Year Investment PlanEdit
Phase one will be rolled out between 2017–2026, and it includes the launch of five new B-Lines, and service improvements on buses, SkyTrain, SeaBus, and HandyDART. TransLink will also purchase 171 more buses, 50 new SkyTrain cars, 5 new West Coast Express passenger cars, and 1 new SeaBus vessel. It also provides funding for improved roads, cycling paths, and sidewalks.
Phase two will be rolled out between 2018–2027, and it includes the construction of the Broadway SkyTrain extension, the construction of the Surrey–Newton–Guildford LRT, the launch of two more B-Lines, the replacement of the Pattullo Bridge, pre-construction of the Surrey–Langley LRT, and more rail and station upgrades on the existing SkyTrain network. It also includes continued service improvements on buses and HandyDART, and continued funding for improved roads, cycling paths, and sidewalks.
Phase three is the final delivery of the 10-Year Investment Plan, and it will be rolled out between 2020–2030. It includes four new B-Lines, yet more service improvements on buses, SkyTrain, and HandyDART service. It also includes the construction of the Surrey–Langley LRT as well as continued funding for improved roads, cycling paths, and sidewalks.
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We're introducing all-door boarding on the 95 B-Line SFU/Burrard Station and 96 B-Line Guildford/Newton Exchange as part of a pilot study that gets under way on January 1, 2018.
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