From SFU Public Affairs & Media Relations:

  • Gordon Price, director of the SFU City Program was on CTV, talking about a proposed 12.5-per-cent increase in transit fares—before independent TransLink regulator Martin Crilly ruled against the increase.

“Gordon Price predicts that Crilly may find some other areas where TransLink can be more cost efficient. However, Price said he will be surprised if the fare hike is not approved. Without increasing prices, TransLink will not be able increase the frequency of bus services, Price said.

“‘Things like cracking down on fare evasion or cut salaries, that will give you some bucks but it’s not the kind of numbers you really need to serve the existing system or to expand it,’ he said.”

Full story (with video):

[Wrong on that one!]

  • Price was in The Province after Crilly said no to the fare increase for 2013.

“Gordon Price, director of the City Program at Simon Fraser University and a former Vancouver councillor, said the public has ‘a love-hate relationship’ with TransLink.

“‘The conclusion people can fairly draw is that the commissioner is saying to TransLink you don’t need more money, that there is waste. Find the efficiencies.’ said Price.”

Full story.

  • Price was also in Coquitlam NOW and on News1130 Radio saying rejection of the increase in fares will hit areas south of the Fraser River worst.

Coquitlam Now: “According to SFU prof Gordon Price, Crilly’s decision will have no impact on Evergreen Line construction, but rather an adverse effect on more long-term projects like a B-Line service through Surrey.

“‘I do think that it’s south of the Fraser that’s going to get the real whammy here,’ Price said. ‘So at the very time when the fastest-growing parts of the region need transportation choices because they’re going to get hit with tolls, they’re going to find that even their anticipated options like the B-Line down King George Boulevard, much less the mayors’ vision for light rail, will be very much up in the air.’”

Price is director of the SFU City program and a former Vancouver councillor.

Full story.

  • News1130: “But Price says it would be foolish for TransLink to try to expand, considering all the money issues its dealing with.

‘You’ve got to do better with what you’ve got. But it will only enable you to maintain, at best, your existing level of service.
“He suggests the transit authority will have to focus on maintaining its current fleet and will have to put expansion plans on hold for years.”

Full story.

  • News1130 also reported: “TransLink Board Chair Nancy Olewiler says it has cut $30 million in costs over the past three years but is committed to finding more savings and providing quality service.

“We will take up your challenge to find cost savings beyond what we have already done or have underway,” she says in a letter to Crilly.

The story didn’t mention that Olewiler is director of SFU’s School of Public Policy.

Full story.

And for a more nuanced and inside look at the report, check out Stephen Rees’s analysis.

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FURTHER COMMENTS ….

As I expected, promised expansion and anticipated projects – save for the Evergreen Line – are being put on hold by the Mayor’s Council, as reported by Frances Bula in the Globe.  Yes, it’s South of the Fraser that will get impacted the most, as emphasized by those mayors who voted against cancellation.

City of Langley Mayor Peter Fassbender said three mayors from south of the Fraser, where most of the improvements would have occurred, voted against the call to cancel.

“It took us a long time to get these enhancements,” he said. “It would be ludicrous not to have buses on the new Port Mann Bridge. We are adamant.”

Unfortunately, this will only reinforce the antipathy of those who believe they get little from TransLink for what they pay, and thus increase the price for any politician who proposes an alternative source or additional funding for expansion of the transit system. 

Of course, this is red meat for the anti-government groups, who will echo the message throughout the media that TransLink is just another example of excessive waste and should be cut off from any further revenues.  For further irony, add in the transit users who may think they’ve benefitted from the rejection of a fare increase but may not appreciate the increased efficiency that comes with overcrowded buses, eliminated routes and infrequent schedules.  

I wonder whether Martin Crilly, the TransLink Commissioner, really understood what he was doing when he turned down the fare request on which the ‘Moving Forward’ supplement was based.  It’s not just that he killed the momentum for transit expansion in the fastest-growing parts of Metro.  What with the opening of massive new highway projects and the Port Mann Bridge, those municipalities to the south and east will be forced to lock themselves further into car dependence, having little hope that growth will be accompanied by other transportation options.

That’s not just sad.  That’s tragic.