Translink considering charging by distance instead of by zone
You could pay for transit by the distance you travel instead of by zone under new changes TransLink is proposing to the public. TransLink is asking riders to weigh in on two options, one where rapid transit (including SeaBus) and buses are both distance-based, and another where rapid-transit riders would pay per-kilometre-travelled, but bus riders would be charged a low, flat rate. The changes being considered wouldn’t result in an increase or decrease in revenue, said Andrew Devlin, TransLink manager of policy development. “TransLink has no intention of growing our pot of revenues of fares.” The changes are being proposed after twothirds of the 43,000 respondents to earlier fare-review surveys said they wanted to ditch the zone system because the boundaries were arbitrary and penalized those who travelled short distances over one or two boundaries. Under the new proposed fare system, those riders will likely see their fares go down, along with those who ride the SeaBus, according to TransLink. For instance, the SkyTrain trip for the four kilometres from Joyce Station to Metrotown Station, now a two-zone fare of $4.10, would drop to $2.20, said Devlin. Those who would pay more would include those who travel long distances within one zone, and those, if the distance-based pricing includes buses, who travel more than five kilometres by bus. All riders would pay a minimum fare for any trip under five kilometres, which TransLink said is the equivalent of three to four stations on rapid transit. It would remain the same as a one-zone fare charged today, $2.20. Devlin wouldn’t provide the percentage of trips under five kilometres, but said that 60 per cent of all trips on transit are 10 km or shorter. And fares would max out at the same amount they do now, meaning no one rider would pay more than the $5.60 three-zone fare they do now, he said. TransLink is also asking for ideas on discounts for frequent users, such as a prepaid pass or paying-as-you-go with a fare cap, an idea that received “strong support” from previous survey respondents, it said. The prepaid pass would provide unlimited trips for a monthly fee, as the monthly pass does now, and the fare cap would allow riders to store value on a card in small increments but receive free trips if they reached a minimum number of trips, for example, per month. That would allow those who couldn’t afford to buy monthly passes volume discounts, said TransLink. Jessica Liang would benefit from distance-based pricing because she lives in Collingwood in Vancouver near the Burnaby boundary and it costs her a two-zone fare to visit her family in Burnaby, one station away. She usually The strategy also includes a promise to introduce new legislation that “will require the federal government to maintain a National Housing Strategy and report to Parliament on housing targets and outcomes.” A new federal housing advocate will be tasked with advising the federal government and the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) of possible solutions to the affordable housing shortage. The strategy also promises to create a national housing council to help the government keep the national housing strategy on the rails. There will also be a national communications campaign that over a “multiyear” period would help better inform “public views on different housing types and tenures.” National housing co-investment fund The strategy includes $15.9 billion for a national housing co-investment fund that will provide $4.7 billion in financial contributions and $11.2 billion in low interest loans waits until off-peak times to save the extra fare. “It’s only fair to ask people to pay for the distances they travel,” she said. .risztina Vasarhelyi, who lives in Port Moody and commutes to Richmond by SkyTrain, bus and the Canada Line, said, “I’m just on the border of the zones. I have to pay three zones based on the zoning system, while on the distance system, it’ll be much more equitable.” Mischa Buza occasionally buses to Langley and experience glitches on the Compass-card system and doubts whether the proposed changes will be fairer. “They just want to charge what they can,” she said, referring to mobility pricing being contemplated by a commission. Gordon Price, a fellow with Simon Fraser University’s Centre for Dialogue, said distance-based pricing may further penalize those who because of housing affordability issues have to live farther from a city’s more expensive core, or, “put another way, provides a benefit (cheaper fares) to those who can afford it.” He also questioned whether the technology for tapping off buses would work, considering that TransLink had problems with the readers and congestion on buses with the Compass-card rollout. And, he said, distance-based pricing for buses leads to the question of why we don’t implement mobility pricing for vehicles on roads. The public can provide feedback until Dec. 8 through an online survey. TransLink will put together a final proposal of changes for one more round of public consultation in the spring before forwarding the recommendations to the TransLink board for a final decision, said Devlin. Some of the other ideas it looked at were a flat fare for the whole system, which was rejected because it would result in fares increasing by 20 per cent, and a refined zone system, dropped because it was deemed not to be simple or fair. Devlin said the changes, which include a possible per-kilometre incremental charge, which would mean a rider travelling 100 metres would pay the same as someone travelling 999 m, will be finetuned before the final recommendations. to developers that meet certain criteria including ensuring that: 30 per cent of units in a development will rent for less than 80 per cent of median market rents for at least 20 years. At least a 25 per cent reduction in energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions over national building and energy codes. 20 per cent of units meet accessibility standards. The federal government’s support will not come by way of monetary commitments alone, but will include a $200 million transfer of federal lands to housing providers on condition that they meet environmental, socioeconomic and affordability standards. This funding envelope will, the government says, help build 60,000 of the promised 100,000 new affordable housing units, repair 240,000 of the 300,000 units in need of renovations, create 7,000 shelter places, 12,000 new affordable units for seniors and another 2,400 affordable units for people with developmental disabilities.