TransLink will go ahead with a 10-per-cent hike to cash fares as part of a new action plan, The Province has learned.
TransLink Commissioner Martin Crilly last week rejected a proposed 12.5-per-cent fare increase for 2013, saying the transit authority can find internal savings from increased financial efficiencies.
Crilly, Translink’s independent regulator, believes the billion-dollar organization can find between $40 and $50 million in cost savings between 2013 and 2015 instead of increasing “hardship” for the paying customer.
TransLink, however, has the right to a two-per-cent cash fare increase per year without independent approval.
After five years without such a fare hike and a new action plan in place to raise the bottom line, CEO Ian Jarvis said on Friday, it’s time for cash fares to be increased.
“We will move on our ability to raise cash fares,” Jarvis said. “As the commissioner has already said, we are able to do that in January 2013.”
The price hikes to cash fares will be between 25 and 50 cents.
A one-zone cash fare will cost $2.75, up from $2.50; a two-zone cash fare will go up to $4.10, from $3.75; and a three-zone cash fare will cost $5.50, up from $5.
The rejected 12.5-per-cent hike would have increased the cost of monthly FareSaver cards but TransLink can still adjust those rates.
As part of the organization’s restructuring a top-end executive was also axed.
In a department shuffle, TransLink eliminated its vice-president of planning and policy position held by Michael Schiffer.
Jarvis said Thursday in a memo to staff that Shiffer created a “structure that supports evidence-based decision making to plan for the region’s transportation system.”
It is not clear how much money the organization will save from the loss of Shiffer’s position, Jarvis said.
“The dollar figure has not been assessed,” the executive said. “The value comes from realigning the organization . . . we will measure effectiveness through our customer surveys and financial results.”
TransLink has already taken action on 35 of Crilly’s 40 recommendations.
Jarvis said earlier this week the company will honour executive bonuses they are contractually obligated to pay for 2011, but 2012 bonuses are under review.
TransLink’s 2011 financial report, released in April, revealed the company, which brought in $1.186 billion but spent $1.219 billion, had to dip into its rainy-day fund for nearly $35 million.
The fund, called a cumulative funded surplus, currently stands at $287.7 million. As part of TransLink’s Moving Forward plan, the rainy-day fund is expected to evaporate by 2016 to help fund the Evergreen Line as well as other regional road, cycling and transit priorities.
The Mayors Council for Regional Transportation on April 12 struck down a proposed increase to property taxes to cover costs. The two-year increase would have contributed $30 million per year to TransLink’s coffers.
Jarvis also confirmed TransLink fully supports a provincial audit proposed by Premier Christy Clark to find further efficiencies and cost savings.