(Black Press files)

TransLink mulls distance-based fares, low-income discounts

Metro Vancouver transit agency launches final phase of fare review

Transit users in Metro Vancouver are getting their third opportunity to weigh in on the fare structure TransLink will introduce next spring.

The agency launched the third phase of its fare review on Monday morning.

The choices boil down to keeping the current flat fares for buses, while bringing in a kilometre-based system for SkyTrain, SeaBus and future light rail south of the Fraser River; or implementing kilometre-based fares across the board.

Either way, the three-zone system would be off the table.

READ: Zone system for transit fares under review

With the first option, about two-thirds of riders will continue to pay the same amountas now, under 20 per cent of riders will pay less, and under 30 per cent of riders will pay more.

With the second option, 20 to 30 per cent of passengers will pay about the same, and another 20 to 30 per cent will pay five to 20 per cent less.

Flat fares will stay at the current rates and the base fare for rapid transit will be set at the current one-zone price.

Under a kilometre-based system, fares will increase once trips exceed five kilometres.

Not everyone will benefit from getting rid of flat fares on the bus. Riders who travel long distances in one zone, such as throughout Vancouver or South of the Fraser, could pay more for trips more than five kilometres. That would include planned light rail in Surrey and Langley.

However, no customers will pay more than they currently do for a three-zone fare.

Andrew Devlin, TransLink’s manager of policy development, acknowledged that under a kilometre-based system, riders would have a tougher time predicting exactly how much longer trips would cost.

“There’s many ways that TransLink can provide better information for customers to make their trips more predictable,” said Devlin. Those include better station maps or mobile apps.

Devlin said the cost of a system-wide flat fare had pushed that option off the table.

“It would require a 20-per-cent price increase for about two-thirds of the trips across the region,” he said. “We just don’t think that’s a palatable option.”

SeaBus customers were especially unhappy with the current zone-based system, Devlin said. All SeaBus trips are currently two zones.

“They’re an example of a pretty short two-zone fare,” said Devlin. “SeaBus trips will be … less than they are today.”

TransLink is also weighing public response to prepaid passes versus fare capping.

Prepaid passes would be cheaper, but would require customers to pay the full cost up front.

Fare capping would have riders pay by trip but after a certain number of trips, the rest of the trips in that fare period would be free. However, each trip would be more expensive.

Devlin said the fare changes would simply “hold the line” on TransLink revenue and are not intended to increase how much cash is brought in.

The agency is also mulling reduced fares for low-income riders and seeing if customers would be open to a five-to-10-per-cent increase across the board to subsidize a 20-per-cent discount for low-income riders.

Devlin said the first three phases of the fare review have cost $1.5 million to date, but that no final estimate is available for the implementation of a new fare structure.

TransLink will bring out a draft proposal in mid-2018. Results from phase three will be available in the spring.

Customers can fill out the survey online before Dec. 8.


@katslepian

katya.slepian@bpdigital.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

German-born British Columbian warns against a ‘yes’ vote on proportional representation

Agassiz realtor Freddy Marks says PR in his home country shows party elites can never be voted out

Agassiz teacher’s Amazing Race takes students on Canada-wide adventure

AESS students say they had the experience of a life time

WATCH: Brother of missing Hope woman makes emotional appeal for more media attention

Next search for Shawnee Inyallie Nov. 18 along Highway 1 towards Boston Bar

Gas price drop expected to hit Fraser Valley today

Analyst says to take advantage, warns slight increase may follow

Players Guild challenges Chilliwack residents to solve classic Agatha Christie whodunit mystery

The Chilliwack Players Guild is performing Murder on the Nile from Nov. 22 to Dec. 2

Trudeau offers to help Pacific islands face climate change impact

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau met with the leaders from the Pacific island nations on Saturday during the APEC Summit in Papua New Guinea

Canada defeats Germany 29-10 in repechage, moves step closer to Rugby World Cup

Hong Kong needs a bonus-point win over Canada — scoring four or more tries — while denying the Canadians a bonus point

Avalanche Canada in desperate need of funding

The organization provides avalanche forecasting for an area larger than the United Kingdom

5 B.C. cities break temperature records

Parts of B.C. remain warm, at 10 C, while others feeling chilly

Don’t sign USMCA until LGBTQ language excised, U.S. lawmakers urge Trump

The trade agreement, forged after 13 months of tense negotiations between Canada and the U.S. is scheduled for Nov. 30

US official: US intel says prince ordered Khashoggi killing

Vice-President Mike Pence told reporters that ‘the murder of Jamal Khashoggi was an atrocity.’

Giants serve up major defeat to Pats at Langley Events Centre

On the ice, Vancouver G-Men wrap up home stand with a 10-4 win over Regina Friday night.

Canada’s health system commendable overall but barriers to care remain: UN

The United Nations says Canada’s health care system is “commendable” overall but vulnerable groups still face barriers to quality care.

Most Read