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Tuesday, December 22, 2009

TransLink 2010 budget maintains services levels, cuts costs

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Vancouver's TransLink's Board of Directors has approved a 2010 budget that will preserve its roads and transit program. Revenue increases and cost cutting initiatives have eliminated the structural deficit and TransLink will maintain services and keep equipment and facilities in a state of good repair. Funding levels do not allow TransLink to proceed with further expansion of the transportation system in 2010.

In his report to the Board, CEO Ian Jarvis said the focus in 2010 would be to maintain the existing road and transit program while following through on initiatives to contain and reduce costs. Jarvis said providing transit services during the Olympics will be one of the more exciting challenges next year, as the transit system looks to handle a sudden spike in demand when ridership hits an expected one million people per day during the Games.

Operating costs, debt servicing and capital repayments will total an estimated C$1.225 billion. Revenues in 2010 are forecast to be C$1.146 billion, with the C$79 million difference covered by TransLink's reserve fund.

Revenues in 2010 are expected to be C$146 million higher than in 2009, mainly as the result of the Mayors' Council approval of C$130 million in new revenue from an increase in transit fares, the motor fuel tax and the sales tax on off-street, paid parking. The proposed increase in transit fares for FareSaver tickets and monthly passes next April, coupled with an expected 7.4 per cent lift in ridership, is expected to increase fare revenues by $42 million to $43 million. The Regional Transportation Commissioner must approve the FareSaver ticket increase before it can be implemented.

Next year's total budget for operations at TransLink, its subsidiaries and contractors will be C$916 million, C$43 million higher than in 2009.  Transit accounts for most of the operations due to the additional ‘full-year' operating costs for the Canada Line and Golden Ears Bridge, and the Canada Line concessionaire capital payment and new buses and the 48 new SkyTrain cars. After $23 million in cost cutting, the 2010 transit operation budget has been set at $843 million.

2010 will mark the third consecutive year of significant cost cutting and efficiency efforts at TransLink and its operating subsidiaries. In total, TransLink has cut C$33 million from their budget requirements next year while preserving road and transit services.