Bus service at a cost

TransLink boss takes issue with columnist's rant against agency

Editor, The News:

Re: Where transit comes off the track (Sidewinder, Aug. 8).

Sandy Macdougall offered your readers some insights as to the performance of the region’s SkyTrain system and the relative low-cost benefits of moving people with rapid transit versus the automobile.

However, Mr. Macdougall’s view that residents of Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows are paying more than they should for transit service misses an important point: the cost of delivering service.

It should be noted that from 2010 to 2013, transit use in Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows increased 11 per cent, while the cost of delivering service went down 8.7 per cent. The median cost per passenger is now $2.25. By comparison, there is more transit service in the higher density areas of Vancouver, where the average cost is $1.08 per passenger.

Maple Ridge is a large geographic area with a mix of land uses and population density.  On an average working day, 20 people use the Ruskin–Haney Place community shuttle (C48) at an average cost of about $17 per passenger.  This route does not operate with the frequency of other routes, but for the passengers who depend on it, it is there. But it is also one of the most expensive routes to service.

Finally, Mr. Macdougall needs to be corrected on the appointment process to the TransLink board. When vacancies on the board of directors are available, the public is notified through advertisements in the local newspapers, with applications by anyone in the region invited. An independent panel screens the applications, then makes recommendations to the Mayors’ Council on Regional Transportation. The Mayors’ Council appoints the board of directors, not the Government of British Columbia.

Bob Paddon