Let’s use it in a sentence:

Service optimization is the ongoing TransLink program looking at how to make the best use of our transit resources …

Here’s another:

“Service optimization” refers to the process of reallocating transit resources or “service hours” from areas of low-productivity to where demand is higher.

Here’s the thing:

Service optimization is a term you will only see in the same sentence as “transit.”   You will not likely see it in the same sentence as “roads.”  I mean, how could you?  How could we take under-utilitized capacity on a highway and transfer it where demand is increasing?

Result: We never cut back on the need to expand the highway system, only on transit, with the assumption that the level of service that we have now is sufficient; it only needs to be reallocated.  Or that ‘efficiencies’ can be achieved by cutting back low-performing routes, regardless of their role in the overall system.

When it comes to proceeding with planning for new bridges and road capapcity (eg. the Pattullo Bridge), there’s an implicit assumption that the money will be found, likely through tolls, so the studies can proceed for, in this case, a six-lane bridge without exploring the full range of options.

Therefore: highway capacity always expands regardless of existing resources; transit capacity stays the same unless new resources are found.

And that is why the TransLink Board*, in accepting a mandate for ‘service optimization,’ is in the business of managing decline.

Here’s the latest evidence in a just-released notice from TransLink:

March 1, 2013

In fall 2012, we consulted with key stakeholders … on TransLink’s strategic plan for 2013 to 2015 (the 2013 Base Plan). This plan outlined services and initiatives for the next three years and how we would fund them.

The 2013 Base Plan included a time-limited property tax of an additional $30 million in 2013 and 2014 to fund expansion projects. The Mayors’ Council has requested the removal of the time-limited property tax from the 2013 Base Plan.

To remove this resource from our finances requires a supplemental plan to be approved by the Mayors’ Council.

Our focus on operating efficiently and cutting costs allows us to remove this temporary funding without immediate impacts to our customersHowever we will not be able to expand the transportation system beyond what was included in the 2013 Base Plan and will need to continue to manage ongoing financial risk.   (My emphasis).

From March 1 to 15, we invite you tovisit us online to learn more about this process and share your comments via an online questionnaire. We will update the plan based on your comments and submit it in late March to the Mayors’ Council for their consideration.

Thank you for being part of TransLink’s planning processes and helping to shape the future of transportation in Metro Vancouver.

That’s our TransLink Board* – ‘Managing decline efficiently.’

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* Not to be confused with the Mayor’s Council.