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  #1  
Old Posted Apr 24, 2016, 4:10 AM
Aroundtheworld Aroundtheworld is offline
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An Idea for Translink Getting More Revenue

There's a lot of discussion about how the region is going to pay for projects like Rapid Transit on Broadway and in Surrey, even with the new funding regime from the Federal Government.

What if the solution was not in trying to extract more taxes from higher levels, but in getting more revenue? And I don't mean increasing fares. I mean a different payment structure that gets more people to use transit.

Here me out. This idea was inspired by what they have in Vienna. What if you had an annual pass at a reasonable price that even occasional users would buy it? Would it work financially?

Let's assume Translink instead of wanting to raise a 1/3 of its $1.4 B budget increased it to 1/2. That would mean $700 Million in fare box revenue and an additional $233 M per year.

Now let's suppose you were to raise all that fare revenue with an annual pass that everyone bought. With 2.5 million people in the region, that equates to $280 per year per person. Now if you increased that to $365 per year ($1 per day) which is very reasonable, you would only need 77% of people to adopt it to earn $700 M. Any adoption rate higher than 50% and you would be earning more fare revenue than today.

At such a low price combined with a tax credit, I think you could get very high adoption rates. Not only would this provide more funding for transit, the 'all-you-can-eat' effect would encourage more transit use and could permanently alter peoples' attitudes to transit, similar to what the UPass has done.

It's a bold idea. I look forward to hearing your thoughts.

Last edited by Aroundtheworld; Apr 24, 2016 at 5:09 AM. Reason: emphasis and typos
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  #2  
Old Posted Apr 24, 2016, 4:13 AM
retro_orange retro_orange is online now
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I'm on board, lets do it!
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  #3  
Old Posted Apr 24, 2016, 4:51 AM
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Heaven forbid you increase fares for transit riders

The frequency of the B-line bus going down broadway is so quick, theres no reason for anything more. You want a fancy skytrain to whisk you down the corridor? Pay for it. Raise fares its as simple as that.
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  #4  
Old Posted Apr 24, 2016, 4:59 AM
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Here's an idea! Lower salaries and benefits for all Translink employees to the same levels as those in the private sector, and perhaps trim the fat and remove all non-essential staff and executive positions, and trim / consolidate the departments down to a more reasonable level. Just saying....
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  #5  
Old Posted Apr 24, 2016, 5:17 AM
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Originally Posted by queetz@home View Post
Here's an idea! Lower salaries and benefits for all Translink employees to the same levels as those in the private sector, and perhaps trim the fat and remove all non-essential staff and executive positions, and trim / consolidate the departments down to a more reasonable level. Just saying....
Exactly. Reduce CEO compensation to private sector standards. From several hundred thousand to several million. A good net savings of negative 1 or 2 million.
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  #6  
Old Posted Apr 24, 2016, 5:45 AM
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Exactly. Reduce CEO compensation to private sector standards. From several hundred thousand to several million. A good net savings of negative 1 or 2 million.
The CEO of Translink is overpaid relative to his counterparts. http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/jordan-...b_4110801.html

Are the other employees overpaid or not? I have no idea. However it should be easy to benchmark. A city bus driver should not make substantially more or less than say a Greyhound bus driver.
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  #7  
Old Posted Apr 24, 2016, 6:45 AM
Aroundtheworld Aroundtheworld is offline
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Ok, I don't want this thread to get dragged down into discussions of Translink CEO pay. If you want to do so, do it on another thread. I want here your perspectives on this idea.
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  #8  
Old Posted Apr 24, 2016, 7:01 AM
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Originally Posted by casper View Post
The CEO of Translink is overpaid relative to his counterparts. http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/jordan-...b_4110801.html

Are the other employees overpaid or not? I have no idea. However it should be easy to benchmark. A city bus driver should not make substantially more or less than say a Greyhound bus driver.
That's a really outdated and well-debunked article on the topic of admin salaries.

As a metro-wide organization, TransLink admin might be grossly underpaid for what it does, depending on how you see it. When TransLink's "one region, one operator" structure is accounted for when compared against other metropolitan areas with multiple (and at times conflicting) transit operators, we have the lowest "CEO salary" of any major metropolis in Canada.

I explored this in my popular post from last year...
Referendum Myths - TransLink and Executive pay

The success of this "one region, one operator" model in reducing our overhead costs might actually be the victim of itself. I'm willing to believe that it is the scrutiny and public pressure on TransLink to reduce costs so intensely, while already operating with a relatively small admin for a transit operator, that is itself responsible for many of the reliability issues our system faces (which could potentially include an upcoming bus strike).
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  #9  
Old Posted Apr 24, 2016, 7:13 AM
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Originally Posted by Aroundtheworld View Post
Ok, I don't want this thread to get dragged down into discussions of Translink CEO pay. If you want to do so, do it on another thread. I want here your perspectives on this idea.
Agreed. It's been discussed ad nauseam elsewhere (like in one of Daryl's blog posts on transit authority CEO salaries).

As for the idea, it sounds great in theory but I'm not so sure about the adoption rate being as high as you might expect (even with that price tag). I just don't have that much faith in so many people buying into the idea (not to mention TransLink and/or any/all levels of government).

I am wondering which region's population are you referring to (and which portion thereof - students, adults, and/or seniors). The reason I ask is that I reside outside of Metro Vancouver and often elect to use transit provided by TransLink (and I'm sure there are many who do as well – for work, recreation, avoiding traffic, etc.). So there may be a good amount of demand from outside of the region for this or something similar, which may provide enough revenue to make up any potential shortages from within the region.

Edit: Heh, we had similar ideas regarding that post, Daryl.

Last edited by sweetnhappy; Apr 24, 2016 at 7:23 AM.
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  #10  
Old Posted Apr 24, 2016, 8:05 AM
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i doubt it would ever work. most people are short term thinkers. most don't think of long term gains/losses/savings with regards to, well, anything really. and everyone whines about TransLink wasting money, so giving them $365, yeah I'd be surprised if you hit 10% in sales.
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  #11  
Old Posted Apr 24, 2016, 10:00 AM
casper casper is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by xd_1771 View Post
That's a really outdated and well-debunked article on the topic of admin salaries.

As a metro-wide organization, TransLink admin might be grossly underpaid for what it does, depending on how you see it. When TransLink's "one region, one operator" structure is accounted for when compared against other metropolitan areas with multiple (and at times conflicting) transit operators, we have the lowest "CEO salary" of any major metropolis in Canada.

I explored this in my popular post from last year...
Referendum Myths - TransLink and Executive pay

The success of this "one region, one operator" model in reducing our overhead costs might actually be the victim of itself. I'm willing to believe that it is the scrutiny and public pressure on TransLink to reduce costs so intensely, while already operating with a relatively small admin for a transit operator, that is itself responsible for many of the reliability issues our system faces (which could potentially include an upcoming bus strike).
I think the one metric for comparing CEO compensation of publically owned transportation companies is salary relative to total operating budget. That normalises for differences in mandate. TTC is $1.7 Billion organisation; Translink is $1.4 Billion organisation. BC Ferries is a $850M organisation.

As for the original topic of the thread, annual subscription sounds like a good idea. Have it charged automatically to a credit card each month and you will likely find it is popular with a lot of people. Subscription services where things are automatically paid and billed are popular these days. Avoids the hassle of having to go buy a pass, it just happens each month.
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  #12  
Old Posted Apr 24, 2016, 4:20 PM
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Originally Posted by casper View Post
The CEO of Translink is overpaid relative to his counterparts. http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/jordan-...b_4110801.html

Are the other employees overpaid or not? I have no idea. However it should be easy to benchmark. A city bus driver should not make substantially more or less than say a Greyhound bus driver.

That's an article by Jordan Bateman, use your discretion when reading articles to assess the BS metre, the spin factor, or the intentional ignoring of facts. That is the equivalent of reading an article by Stephen Harper telling you why you should vote Conservative. Secondly, Toronto has multiple transit CEOs and when you combine their pay it is way more than Translink's one CEO.

Last, my post was directly in response to one that made a statement about private sector pay. I was pointing out that the CEOs are not paid at private sector levels, but below.
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  #13  
Old Posted Apr 24, 2016, 7:09 PM
dpogue dpogue is offline
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Originally Posted by libtard View Post
Heaven forbid you increase fares for transit riders
With the proposed $365.00 annual pass, that is far cheaper than buying any of the current monthly pass options:
  • 1 zone monthly pass = $91.00 ($365 is cheaper than 5 months)
  • 2 zone monthly pass = $124.00 ($365 is cheaper than 3 months)
  • 3 zone monthly pass = $170.00 ($365 is cheaper than 3 months)
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  #14  
Old Posted Apr 24, 2016, 8:07 PM
casper casper is offline
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Originally Posted by csbvan View Post
That's an article by Jordan Bateman, use your discretion when reading articles to assess the BS metre, the spin factor, or the intentional ignoring of facts. That is the equivalent of reading an article by Stephen Harper telling you why you should vote Conservative. Secondly, Toronto has multiple transit CEOs and when you combine their pay it is way more than Translink's one CEO.

Last, my post was directly in response to one that made a statement about private sector pay. I was pointing out that the CEOs are not paid at private sector levels, but below.
I don't understand how southern Ontario having more than one transit agency is relevant. You would think it is reasonable to compare the salary of the CEO of a $1.4B transit organization to one that is $1.7B organization. The TTC is a bigger organization that Translink. If you were to combine the operating budgets of all the transit organizations in Southern Ontario you are looking at an organization that is significantly larger that Translink.

I do agree the CEO of a private sector $1.7B organization would make quite a bit more than the CEO of Translink. When it comes to the average employee it is more variable.
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  #15  
Old Posted Apr 24, 2016, 8:09 PM
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Originally Posted by dpogue View Post
With the proposed $365.00 annual pass, that is far cheaper than buying any of the current monthly pass options:
  • 1 zone monthly pass = $91.00 ($365 is cheaper than 5 months)
  • 2 zone monthly pass = $124.00 ($365 is cheaper than 3 months)
  • 3 zone monthly pass = $170.00 ($365 is cheaper than 3 months)
The OP suggestion of a discounted annual subscription is still valid. Perhaps someone agreeing to an annual subscription covering all Translink operations includes WestCoast express for $100 per month.
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  #16  
Old Posted Apr 24, 2016, 11:03 PM
Kisai Kisai is offline
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Originally Posted by Aroundtheworld View Post

It's a bold idea. I look forward to hearing your thoughts.

Considering how taxes and unreasonable overhead (why do we even have a MSP "card" and the associated bureaucracy with collecting that tax?) people don't like the idea of paying for things they don't get good value for.

Like as an example, I don't like paying the MSP tax because "gee, I haven't been to a hospital in 20 years" so it feels like I've had zero value for that expense. This is the same thing that happens with the U-pass. All the students are required to have it, but the amount of students that feel they get value for that is very likely not above 50%.

People who happen to live and work in their neighborhoods would also feel they get no value for such passes because they might only take transit once a month. So for their use case it would still be cheaper to pay for a single-use ticket.

Likewise with car-drivers, and people who have to drive for their job, the value of such a pass is rather low.

The argument could be made that an "Annual" pass should exist, just to make the overhead less bureaucratic, but how many things out there do you pay only once per year? The post office? Property Taxes?
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  #17  
Old Posted Apr 25, 2016, 12:45 AM
memememe76 memememe76 is offline
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If the U-Pass has such low appeal for students (I don't particularly buy that theory), then why subsidize it? Losing that subsidy should increase revenue for Translink.

Perhaps property owners can forego their Home Owner's Grant in exchange for a yearly transit pass or yearly pass over, say, the Port Mann Bridge. This is a benefit for drivers and transit users. $570 for either would still be a bargain.

Although, I am suspicious of the math. If every Lower Mainland resident having to pay $365 for an annual transit pass would give Translink so much revenue, then let's do it. It's way cheaper than what we currently pay.
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  #18  
Old Posted Apr 25, 2016, 7:38 PM
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The thing to note is that not all 2.5 million people in the region actually travel frequently.

In 2011, there were 2.4 million people in Translink's area, and 1.25 million jobs. So really, only a bit more than half the people in the region commute. 6.1 million trips are made every day, and 14% of those are on transit. Of the 6.1 million daily trips, 1/3 are for work or post secondary, and 23% for personal business.

http://www.translink.ca/~/media/Docu...kgrounder.ashx

Even if it is a good value, I don't think you could entice 50% of the people in the region to buy. 50% of the people in the region don't travel that much as it is.

On top of that, you also have areas of the region that don't have reliable transit service. So trying to entice those people to buy an annual pass that gives them unlimited access to their bus that comes by every half hour only during peak periods is going to be impossible. It's one thing to get commuters to give you money, because you can target just a few hours a day with increased service. But to get more than just 1/3 of people travelling to pay for transit, you need to offer them better service all day so they can make their appointments or shop conveniently.

The problem too is if you did get more people to buy transit passes, you would need to supply more transit, as capacity in many places is maxed out. So you would need to recalculate how much you need based on how much more transit you need to supply if your plan is successful.
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  #19  
Old Posted May 20, 2016, 1:39 AM
casper casper is offline
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Originally Posted by BCPhil View Post
The thing to note is that not all 2.5 million people in the region actually travel frequently.

In 2011, there were 2.4 million people in Translink's area, and 1.25 million jobs. So really, only a bit more than half the people in the region commute. 6.1 million trips are made every day, and 14% of those are on transit. Of the 6.1 million daily trips, 1/3 are for work or post secondary, and 23% for personal business.

http://www.translink.ca/~/media/Docu...kgrounder.ashx

Even if it is a good value, I don't think you could entice 50% of the people in the region to buy. 50% of the people in the region don't travel that much as it is.

On top of that, you also have areas of the region that don't have reliable transit service. So trying to entice those people to buy an annual pass that gives them unlimited access to their bus that comes by every half hour only during peak periods is going to be impossible. It's one thing to get commuters to give you money, because you can target just a few hours a day with increased service. But to get more than just 1/3 of people travelling to pay for transit, you need to offer them better service all day so they can make their appointments or shop conveniently.

The problem too is if you did get more people to buy transit passes, you would need to supply more transit, as capacity in many places is maxed out. So you would need to recalculate how much you need based on how much more transit you need to supply if your plan is successful.
General concept of getting more money into Tranlink......

- Install vending machines. Better would be tender it out to a vending machine operator. Selling junk food on train platform is pretty common in Europe.

- Build up and lease out the space under skytrain guideways. In a place like Japan that would have retail or other uses under the overhead tracks.

- Look at negotiating special deals with onetime bulk users. The cruise lines for getting passengers to-from the airport is a good example.

- Look at operating premium routes. For example BC Ferries to downtown express busses.

- Permit the translink compass card to be used for other things and charge the other vendors a couple of percent in a transaction fee. Some other uses include the water taxis, Willsons Transport, BC Ferries, etc,
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  #20  
Old Posted May 20, 2016, 6:38 AM
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Quote:
- Install vending machines. Better would be tender it out to a vending machine operator. Selling junk food on train platform is pretty common in Europe.
I'd love to see at least two of those japanese vending machines at each station. Their drinks are cheap (albeit sometimes quite small), the machines are very compact (perfect for the older and smaller stations) and extremely energy efficient. I'm amazed there is nobody yet besides PBG and the other big names who operate the scant number of machines sprinkled around. It sounds like if you imported a bunch of machines, secured wholesale agreements for the beverages and paid companies and property owners around stations and high traffic areas for a place to bolt down a machine and plug itin , plus a tax on a per-sale basis you could make a fairly decent business with cheap drinks.

Quote:
- Build up and lease out the space under skytrain guideways. In a place like Japan that would have retail or other uses under the overhead tracks.
All the downtown and mid-town stations used to have at least a small convenience store. The rent was awful and business was poor. Outside of stations I seem to recall there was a regulation or something that didn't really allow for permanent structures underneath the guideways. White Spot at Lougheed however seems to be the exception.

Quote:
- Permit the translink compass card to be used for other things and charge the other vendors a couple of percent in a transaction fee. Some other uses include the water taxis, Willsons Transport, BC Ferries, etc,
This I would strongly enjoy. COMPASS being useable as a payment in nearby shops and previously mentioned vending machines. The cards could be charged (and possibly taxed?) a lot more often and with a lot more money.

TransLink could also do for more advertising space. What little there is has either been contracted out or the rates aren't all that great.
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