TRANSLINK BRIEFS: Transit costs to climb
TransLink expects its transit costs will rise $55 million this year even though it plans no net increase in how much service it provides.
Higher anticipated fuel costs and cost escalation of the Canada Line contract are among the reasons the transit budget will rise to $871.2 million in 2011.
TransLink is planning for no increase in union or management wages, but has provided for a two per cent increase for general inflation.
TransLink is assuming overall transit ridership will grow 6.1 per cent this year, which would continue the major bump in usage since the 2010 Olympics.
TransLink's 15-cent-a-litre gas and diesel tax is expected to generate $324 million this year.
The authority will collect $279 million in property taxes this year. TransLink property tax rates rise an automatic two per cent each year for inflation without the need for approval of the region's mayors council.
The biggest single source of money will remain transit fares, estimated at $421 million for 2011.
More tax from parking
One area where TransLink is collecting significantly more money is its controversial pay parking tax, which tripled from seven to 21 per cent in 2010.
That was expected to generate $46.3 million last year – up from $15.6 million previously.
But TransLink actually collected $58.4 million from the parking tax in 2010, according to spokesman Ken Hardie.
"A bunch of new properties came on line, including new hotels," he said. "So we outdid the budget by a fair piece."
Some pay parking companies are estimating a decrease in the use of their lots since the tax hike.
Hardie said it's too early to tell whether TransLink's take will slip this year.
Since the 12 per cent HST is applied and compounds on top of the 21 per cent pay parking tax, the total tax paid by pay lot users is 35.52 per cent.
Canada Line ruling reversed
Cambie Street merchant Susan Heyes has lost her legal battle for compensation from TransLink and the builders of the Canada Line.
The B.C. Court of Appeal overturned a previous court judgment that awarded Heyes $600,000 for lost business at her maternity wear store when the rapid-transit line was built by digging a cut-and-cover trench rather than with a more costly bored tunnel.
The appeal court judges ruled the traffic closures due to cut-and-cover did interfere with Heyes business, but TransLink and InTransitBC were within their rights to make that choice.
A bored tunnel would have been better for Cambie Village merchants like Heyes but would have been significantly more disruptive in other densely populated areas, including the busy Broadway area, according to the ruling.
Heyes has said she may appeal the legal defeat to the Supreme Court of Canada.
She said she is not in a position to repay the money she was previously awarded.
New TravelSmart tools
TransLink has relaunched its TravelSmart campaign to mark the Olympic one-year anniversary and it's including some new tools to help Metro Vancouverites decide how to get around.
The new resources at www.travelsmart.ca include a new neighbourhood map tool.
It can be used to rate your neighbourhood – or perhaps one you're thinking of moving to – for walkability and transit use and to display shops and services within easy walking or cycling distance.