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TransLink (British Columbia)

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TransLink (legally the South Coast British Columbia Transportation Authority) is the organization responsible for the regional transportation network of Metro Vancouver in British Columbia, Canada, including public transport and major roads and bridges.

TransLink was created in 1998 (then called the Greater Vancouver Transportation Authority, or GVTA) and 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. Some of its operations extend 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.

TransitEdit

BusesEdit

Buses in Metro Vancouver are operated by two companies. Coast Mountain Bus Company, a subsidiary of TransLink, operates regular transit buses, powered by diesel or natural gas, in most of the region's municipalities and trolley buses primarily within the City of Vancouver. The District Municipality of West Vancouver owns and operates the Blue Bus system serving West Vancouver and Lions Bay. 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, or West Coast Express, or on express bus routes that travel directly to downtown Vancouver or other regional centres.

Two high-capacity, high-frequency B-Line express routes use diesel 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, replacing the old high-floor models, and are fully wheelchair accessible.

Many local routes are serviced with buses manufactured by New Flyer, a company based in Winnipeg. Longer suburban routes use Orion coaches with high-back seats and luggage racks. In addition, TransLink is testing diesel-electric hybrid buses and natural-gas buses, with an additional order of natural-gas buses scheduled for delivery in mid-2006.

In late 2007, all TransLink buses became designated "fare paid zones". Under this system, a rider is required to retain a proof of payment (transfer) while on board the bus and produce it upon request by a transit official[1]. On designated routes, the larger three-door buses allow passengers to board through rear doors. As they are bypassing the driver and fare box, they must have a previously paid fare in their possession. All other buses still require passengers to enter through the front door and display valid fare media to the driver. Fare inspections are conducted by the South Coast British Columbia Transportation Authority Police Service and by Transit Security. Failure to produce proof of payment may result in ejection from the bus and a fine of $173.

TransLink also operates a late-night bus service, called NightBus, along a series of routes extending from downtown throughout the city and to several suburbs.

SkyTrainEdit

Originally completed in 1985 as a transit showcase for Expo 86, the SkyTrain automated rapid transit system has become an important part of the region's transportation network. The original Expo Line now operates from Downtown Vancouver through southern Burnaby, New Westminster, and into Surrey.

The system was further expanded upon opening of the Millennium Line in 2002, which links eastern New Westminster and northern Burnaby to Vancouver. The Millennium Line was also expected to eventually branch north-east through Coquitlam and Port Coquitlam, but this proposal has since been given a separate identity as the Evergreen Line.

The Canada Line, which opened on August 17, 2009, runs underground through Vancouver and then along an elevated guideway with two branches, to Richmond and to Vancouver International Airport respectively. While it meets the other two lines at Waterfront Station in downtown Vancouver, it is operationally independent and has no track connection to 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 private concessionaire.

Commuter railEdit

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 a subsidiary of TransLink.

FerriesEdit

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 is integrated with the transit system. The Albion ferry was a free automobile ferry service between Langley Township and Maple Ridge across the Fraser River. The ferry service was retired when the Golden Ears Bridge opened, on June 16, 2009.

Transit faresEdit

Below are the fare prices in Canadian Dollars effective January 1, 2008:

Fare type<b> One Zone Two Zones Three Zones
Adult $2.50 $3.75 $5.00
Concession $1.75 $2.50 $3.50

All Transit Fare holders are permitted to unlimited transfers throughout the amount of zones stated on the ticket within a 90-minute period.

Concession fares apply to children aged 5–13, seniors aged 65+, and high school students aged 14–19 with a valid student identification card from a school in Metro Vancouver (known as a GoCard). Children aged 4 and younger ride for free. Zone fares apply weekdays before 6:30 pm; during evenings and on weekends, passengers can travel throughout the system on a one-zone fare. Students of the University of British Columbia, Simon Fraser University, Langara College, and Capilano University students receive a U-Pass, which is included in student fees and is valid across all three zones.[2] These U-Pass programs are negotiated as service contracts between TransLink and individual universities or student unions.

Failure to pay the fare is an offence under the Transit Conduct and Safety Regulations. Persons found without a valid fare are served with a Provincial Violation Ticket of $173 ($150 statutory fine and $23 Victims Surcharge). Fare inspections are conducted by the South Coast British Columbia Transportation Authority Police Service and Transit Security. Fraudulent use of fares (using a fake pass, using someone else's non-transferable pass, etc.) may result in criminal charges.

A limited-edition 2010 Winter Olympics transit pass was made available for purchase. The pass was valid for the entire duration of the Olympic and Paralympic Games (February 8, 2010 to March 21, 2010).[3]

Concession One zone Two zones Three zones
$63 $110 $149 $204

In addition, an event ticket for the Games entitled the holder unlimited access to all of TransLink’s transit services for the day of that event.[3]

Transit policeEdit

TransLink replaced its Special Provincial Constables, which held limited policing power, with the Greater Vancouver Transportation Authority Police Service (now the South Coast British Columbia Transportation Authority Police Service, or SCBCTAPS), in December 2005. The move was not without controversy, as some riders objected to armed officers patrolling the system. A court case in which a woman was awarded $52,000 for allegedly being beaten by a flashlight-wielding officer, in an incident that occurred before the transition, confirmed such fears for some.[4] In contrast to the former TransLink special constables, SCBCTAPS constables have full police powers.

Coast Mountain Bus Company operates the security department, commonly known as the Transit Security Department. Transit Security are mobile, ride buses and trains, and patrol TransLink properties. They work closely with the SCBCTAPS to ensure safety throughout the transit network. Transit Security are authorized to arrest persons committing criminal offences on or in relation to any TransLink property, as per the Criminal Code of Canada. Transit Security are also authorized to enforce Transit Conduct and Safety Regulations pursuant to the South Coast British Columbia Transportation Authority Act and to enforce the Transit Tariff.

On November 14, 2006, the Canadian government announced the approval of $37 million for improvements to transit security across Canada, including $9.8 million for the Vancouver area, although no details have been released as to how this money will be spent.[5] CCTV cameras have started to appear on some Translink buses.

LiveryEdit

Shortly after its inception, the TransLink board of directors approved replacement of the old colours of BC Transit with TransLink's new blue and yellow colour scheme or livery. It also created brands for the body'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 the 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.

RoadsEdit

TransLink owns and maintains the Major Road Network, which comprises most major regional arteries not owned by the provincial government. It includes 2,200 lane-km (1,367 lane-mi) of roadways and the Knight Street Bridge, Pattullo Bridge, Westham Island Bridge, and Golden Ears Bridge. 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.

Transit-related improvementsEdit

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.

CyclingEdit

TransLink employs several engineers and planners who administer various aspects of the bicycle program. TransLink has a good working relationship with its many cycling stakeholders, such as the VACC (Vancouver Area Cycling Coalition).

TransLink invests $6 million in cycling each year (as of 2007). This money is spread among capital and operating projects, some in 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 known as the Bicycle Infrastructure Capital Cost Sharing Program (BICCS). 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 whilst some funding is available in a competitive process called Regional Needs. The funding process is overseen by the Bicycle Working Group, composed of municipal bicycle representatives.

TransLink also produces a regional cycling map, which is available for sale or as a free .pdf on 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 the 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).

During 2007, many of TransLink's new New Flyer buses were unable to carry bikes after dark, as the bike rack design was incompatible with the placement of the headlights on the new buses. The bike racks were redesigned to hold the bikes in a new position and refitted to all new buses by March 2008.

TransLink also installs and maintains bicycle parking racks and lockers at SkyTrain stations and transit interchanges through private contractors.

Emission controlEdit

AirCare is a regionally-mandated automobile emissions program and is operated by a subsidiary of TransLink. TransLink plans to phase out the program by 2011.

AccessibilityEdit

Although improvements have been made, wheelchair accessibility remains a problem on parts of the system. Accessibility issues will become particularly important for the agency 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.

BusesEdit

All transit vehicles are accessible by specially-designed lifts or ramps, However, some stops are considered inaccessible if there is deemed to be insufficient room to deploy the lifts or ramps. Occasional equipment problems have been an issue as well.

In addition, some wheelchair users have complained that drivers sometimes fail to board wheelchairs before other passengers, which results in difficulties boarding, turning, and parking in designated wheelchair areas. There is only space for two wheelchairs on each accessible bus, and the wheelchair area is also used for walkers and baby strollers. However, passengers in wheelchairs have highest priority for these positions and lower-priority users (such as those with strollers) are required to vacate the space as needed. Wheelchair users sometimes have to wait for several buses to go by before they can board on popular routes during peak periods.

New fareboxes introduced on all buses have been the subject of complaints from many wheelchair users, since their size and placement makes it difficult for users of certain types of chairs or electric scooters to manoeuvre around them.

Riders who suffer from asthma and other breathing conditions have complained of the lack of Air-Conditioning on all buses, including the new fleet of trolley buses and articulated rapid transit buses.

In August 2006, TransLink began replacing its entire fleet of inaccessible electric trolley buses with low-floor trolley buses, 188 standard 12.2-m (40-foot) vehicles. In mid-2008, it introduced 40 articulated 18.3-m (60-foot) buses, reserved for the #3 (Main), #8 (Fraser) and #20 (Victoria) routes.

In late 2008, TransLink introduced voice announcement systems on most buses to help those with vision impairments or those unfamiliar with the region, as well as helping operators focus on the road instead of doing the announcements manually. The annunciators call out bus stops and other messages using a computer-generated voice. The annunciators use GPS technology installed on each bus to identify the bus's location and the next stop. There are still a few problems with the system, however, such as audio quality and volume levels.[6]

SkyTrainEdit

While all SkyTrain vehicles are accessible (each older Mark I car has one wheelchair-designated spot, and newer Mark II cars have two), two SkyTrain stations are not fully accessible. The stations with accessibility issues are Columbia Station and Scott Road Station. Previously Granville Station lacked an elevator, but this was rectified in late 2005. Finally, from April 2006 to 2008, Sapperton Station was not accessible due to construction of a nearby residential building, which had closed the station entrance ramp (but not the stairs). This station has since been reopened.

Elevator problems have also been a concern, with work on elevators at some stations rendering them inaccessible for up to a month at a time. While many elevators at stations along the Millennium Line are bright and enclosed by glass, some elevators at older stations are small, dark, and removed from main entrances and exits, giving rise to concerns about personal safety.

HandyDARTEdit

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, which are generally 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). In addition, some riders have been refused permission to use the system as they have been deemed "too independent."

GovernanceEdit

The Mayors’ CouncilEdit

The Mayors’ Council is composed of the 21 mayors of Metro Vancouver municipalities, who represent the interests of citizens of the region. The Mayors’ Council appoints the Board of Directors for TransLink and the Commissioner. It approves plans prepared by TransLink, including the transportation plan, regional funding, and borrowing limits.

TransLink Board of DirectorsEdit

The TransLink board is made up of individuals 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.

Board members are in three groups, serving one-, two-, and three-year terms. The current members are:

Name Term Notes
Dale Parker 3 years Chairman
Nancy Olewiler 3 years SFU Director of the Public Policy Program & Professor of Economics
David Unruh 3 years Director of Union Gas
James Bruce 2 years Chair of the 2010 Games Operating Trust Society
Sarah Goodman 2 years A VP at Weyerhaeuser
Robert Tribe 2 years Professional engineer
Bob Garnett 1 years Chartered accountant
Cindy Piper 1 years Urban planner
Skip Triplett 1 years Retired
Source:[7]

Chief Executive OfficerEdit

The CEO runs TransLink, as directed by the board, and 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

The Commissioner must approve all cash fare increases greater than the rate of inflation. The Commissioner also approves TransLink’s plans for annual customer satisfaction surveys, its customer complaint process, and any proposed sale of major assets. The Regional Transportation Commissioner operates separately from the Mayors' Council, the TransLink Board of Directors, and TransLink staff.

2007 reorganizationEdit

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.[8][9]

The reorganization of TransLink proposed the following changes[9]:

  • TransLink will have the authority to generate revenue by controlling development of land near and around transit stations, including overriding municipal land-use planning.
  • 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 appointed by the provincial government, and an Independent Commissioner of TransLink 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 which 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 into the Fraser Valley 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)[10] to 15 cents per litre (68 cents per Imp gal or 57 cents per US gal).
  • 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 previously called the old board "dysfunctional"[9], saying that board members were focused on the interests of their own municipalities instead of the broader interests of the region.[11] According to Falcon, the board of directors had "no ability there to develop the skill-set to understand major, multi-billion projects."[11] British Columbia New Democratic Party critic David Chudnovsky responded, saying 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".[9] Chudnovsky was also worried about the consequences of a property development slowdown.

On April 26, 2007, legislation was introduced by the British Columbia provincial government to restructure TransLink. The proposed successor body was to be known as the South Coast British Columbia Transportation Authority.[12] 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.[13][14]

On March 19, 2008, the Vancouver Sun reported that TransLink is launching a real estate division that may produce over $1.5 billion in revenue over the next 10 years.[15]

NDP critic Maurine Karagianis introduced a private member's bill dubbed the "TransLink Openness Act".[16]

External linksEdit


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