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Old 06-19-2013, 02:20 PM   #76
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Originally Posted by Sushi604 View Post
That's only if it were true. Most likely it'll cost a lot more than they actually say.

Can't we get a proper audit of Translink please?

The Buzzer blog The provincial audit of TransLink

The auditors discover 41 million of savings but they were only recommendations. It is unknown even to this day if Translink were decided or against those recommendations. And now this.

Again, I don't mind if our tax dollars went to create a system such as a sky train that operates til 3AM everyday or the creation of internal LRT systems within their own municipalities that can connect with the existing infrastructure. But to ask for more money when our population doesn't even rival Toronto's is just down right robbery.
Even if they implemented all of the recommendations in the audit, there still wouldn't be enough money to pay for future expansions. If there was something to be gained politically from the audit, you can bet the Liberals would have exploited it in the last election, but there wasn't. There is waste at Translink, but the waste is small in the grand scheme of things.

You can't have your cake and eat it too. People need to stop asking for things they aren't willing to pay for. In fact, capital expenditures are nothing compared to operating expenses. Translink should really give people what they want: if people don't want more taxes or higher fares, then it should cut service.
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Old 06-19-2013, 02:22 PM   #77
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Gars,

Given Translink's history, I think it is a relatively safe bet that they are going to at least waste a good amount of that money.

Jokes aside, I think there is a lot of truth in the above statement that I made. The absolute biggest success Translink has pulled off in the last 20 years is probably the Canada Line. But even with the Canada Line, Translink royally screwed up in many regards. The construction phase unnecessarily affected too many people and businesses along the Cambie corridor. The projected capacity was way too low. The design of the stations were an absolute failure that left no room for expansion at all. What kind of engineering project would almost leave out future scalability altogether?
A project that was a P3. You want increasing privatization of the system? I give you the Canada Line, run by the folks at SNC Lavalin.
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Old 06-19-2013, 02:24 PM   #78
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I'm just excited to see how much more transit is going to get with the Compass Cards / Turnstiles in place. I remember reading an article where translink said that only something like less than 10% of commuters don't pay whereas everyone else does.
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Old 06-19-2013, 02:29 PM   #79
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Originally Posted by Sushi604 View Post
That's only if it were true. Most likely it'll cost a lot more than they actually say.

Can't we get a proper audit of Translink please?

The Buzzer blog The provincial audit of TransLink

The auditors discover 41 million of savings but they were only recommendations. It is unknown even to this day if Translink were decided or against those recommendations. And now this.

Again, I don't mind if our tax dollars went to create a system such as a sky train that operates til 3AM everyday or the creation of internal LRT systems within their own municipalities that can connect with the existing infrastructure. But to ask for more money when our population doesn't even rival Toronto's is just down right robbery.
Sigh.

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Originally Posted by MindBomber View Post
Toronto Transit Commission covers a 622 square kilometer service area.

Translink covers a 2977 square kilometer service area.

It's completely unreasonable to compare the pricing of a Translink 3 zone pass to a TTC pass, because the two passes service completely incomparable sized areas. It's like saying a flight to Toronto should cost the same as a flight to Calgary.

It would be reasonable to compare pricing of a Translink 1 zone pass to a TTC pass, because those two passes service comparable sized service areas. Oddly enough, Translink suddenly offers much better value when you do that - Translink $91 (2013) 1 zone pass compared to the TTC $126 pass.
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The audit is here: http://www.th.gov.bc.ca/publications..._Translink.pdf

The fact that Mary Polak downplayed the findings of the audit (I.e. Solving transit issues in Metro Vancouver is not just about cutting costs) says to me that this audit was primarily for political purposes.

The audit was particularly critical of the management of the bus system (routes and union salaries and absenteeism) and on Translink's risk-averse management of its budgeting and assets.
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Agreed, it's a very interesting read; not especially time consuming.

For those of you who want a very brief summary of the audit, I took screen caps of Appendix A and B.

Spoiler!


The report doesn't show tragically poor mismanagement:

Overtime hours decreased 29% overall between 2007-2011 (pg.47)

Executive team has decreased from 34 members in 2009 to 17 members currently, resulting in a 31% savings in compensation. (pg.44)

CMBC has maintained growth in the hourly cost of service at the rate of inflation.

Translink's real estate portfolio has a net book value of approximately $528 million but a much higher actual value. The management plan is becoming more sophisticated and strategic with a focus of maximizing revenue. Translink is rezoning surplus properties prior to sale to increase value. (pg.15)

Some interesting points:

Total operating expenditures were $1.36 Billion in 2011 (57% higher than 2007), however the report finds this spending reasonable in relation to service expansion.

Translink maintains a $500 million LOC, which it paid $400,000 to maintain in 2011 and $225,000 in 2012; it has never accessed these funds.

Translink manages an asset portfolio valued in excess of $10 billion.

Replacement of all 500 CMBC diesel buses with CNG would generate an annual savings of $12.7 million, BUT it would cost $70 million resulting in a 5-6 years payback period. (pg.26)

Definite inefficiencies:

HandyDart costs are 18% higher than the Canadian average. A restructuring of the service to include a greater utilization supplemental taxi services could save $1 million. (pg.27)

Since 2007 CMBC's fleet maintenance staffing level has increased by 30%, this is due to a significant hiring upswing to reflect increased service levels during the Olympics. Post-Olympics however, the staffing levels were never decreased to reflect the current needs. A 10% reduction in fleet maintenance would save $3.7 million. (pg.27)

Driver absenteeism costs $12.1 million per year; the average driver takes 14 sick days per year.

Better management of driver scheduling to increase split shifts could save up to $1 million per year.

8 of the 22 lowest performing routes are still operated using conventional buses, a conversion to community shuttles would save $500,000 per year without service reduction. (pg.22)

Reducing frequency of Skytrain service during non-peak hours could save $1.57 million. (pg.18)
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So what the audit says a lot of is, "Translink and [insert group here] should work to find a better way to do [insert issue here]", while slapping numbers on potential changes.

One of the things that the report criticizes is Translink's method of putting busses on routes based on projected future ridership rather than current ridership. Given that translink really only adjusts busses once a year, this doesn't seem that weird to me. I mean, why would you want to add busses only when you're driving past people who want to get on the bus?

Another is Translink's fiscal conservancy. The report says that if Translink were a little less cautious, they could either save more money or "budget more accurately" (translink typically operates with a budget surplus annually because they are cautious with investments and whatnot). Personally, I think fiscal conservancy is a good thing. Unfortunately, people tend to think that it isn't...until shit goes south, at which point everyone gets angry that the organization wasn't more conservative.

Fiscally conservative and run surpluses? Wasteful. Embrace risk and get bitten? Wasteful.

Heads you lose, tails I win.


That was a good thread.
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Old 06-19-2013, 02:32 PM   #80
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^^ This

Also, is Translink still wasting big $$$ on OT pay like they used to? A number of years ago, a bus-driving acquaintance of mine told me that it is relatively easy for a lot of bus drivers to rack up an insane number of OT hours. Obviously, those hours are paid at 1.5x to 2x.

I say their entire system needs to be overhauled and replaced with something cheaper (esp on labour costs) and more efficient.
In the 2012 Translink Audit Report a point of praise was a 29% reduction in overtime expedenditures between 2007-2011. The percentage of reduction was skewed by the necessity of OT during the Olympics.

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Privatization needs to be done along with the introduction of multiple competitors. Otherwise, it'll only turn into a monopoly that will only make things worse.
Privitization of transit is impossible in North America. The most efficient transit operator on the continent is the TTC (Toronto), and they attain only 80% efficiency.

Quote:
Can't we get a proper audit of Translink please?

The Buzzer blog The provincial audit of TransLink

The auditors discover 41 million of savings but they were only recommendations. It is unknown even to this day if Translink were decided or against those recommendations. And now this.
The audit cited $30 million in potential budget reductions, but not savings. The cited funds are a contigency, which carries over annually.

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Again, I don't mind if our tax dollars went to create a system such as a sky train that operates til 3AM everyday or the creation of internal LRT systems within their own municipalities that can connect with the existing infrastructure. But to ask for more money when our population doesn't even rival Toronto's is just down right robbery.
The audit you seemingly praise recommends reducing skytrain service hours, but you want skytrain service hours extended. Reduce the spending or increase the service, which is it?

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Old 06-19-2013, 02:34 PM   #81
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Old 06-19-2013, 02:40 PM   #82
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In the 2012 Translink Audit Report a point of praise was a 29% reduction in overtime expedenditures between 2007-2011. The percentage of reduction was skewed by the necessity of OT during the Olympics.
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That's a good reduction. But I see 2 things with this point in the audit report:

1) the gross amount of waste (in terms of OT outlay) in the 2007-2011 years was disgusting
2) is there any mention of how much OT Translink is still dolling out for the average vehicle operators? I am not asking for zero OT hours, as that would be unrealistic. But illustrating only a percentage reduction is not meaningful enough.
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Old 06-19-2013, 02:50 PM   #83
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That's a good reduction. But I see 2 things with this point in the audit report:

1) the gross amount of waste (in terms of OT outlay) in the 2007-2011 years was disgusting
2) is there any mention of how much OT Translink is still dolling out for the average vehicle operators? I am not asking for zero OT hours, as that would be unrealistic. But illustrating only a percentage reduction is not meaningful enough.
The amount of OT paid in those years may have been a lot, but it's not like Translink has the ability to get that money back. What matters is how they plan to manage their money going forward.

You know how you pay less OT? You hire more drivers so you don't have to pay OT to extra drivers. Hiring costs money, even if you hire all part-timers. But, maybe Translink should be run like a business where labour laws are broken and execs are compensated at even higher salaries with less transparency?
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Old 06-19-2013, 03:07 PM   #84
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You know how you pay less OT? You hire more drivers so you don't have to pay OT to extra drivers. Hiring costs money, even if you hire all part-timers. But, maybe Translink should be run like a business where labour laws are broken and execs are compensated at even higher salaries with less transparency?
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In this case, hiring does not cost more money. Overall, it saves money because of the reduction in OT costs. I know the accounting types like to classify these into different categories and claim you need a bigger budget for regular salaried workers now. But at the end of the day, it's a savings no matter how you look at it.

Obviously, the best route for the province exists somewhere between a fat+inefficiently run crown corp and a lean, mean private business. Is that too much for BC residents to ask?
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Old 06-19-2013, 03:22 PM   #85
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It's not just hiring more - but it would also mean we would probably have more staff on board - who are working less than full time. Should Translink hire staff that are PT? I know Walmart in the states gets a lot of flak by hiring a lot of PT people, but they must keep their schedule open so they're unable to get a second job - but because they're PT, they don't have access to the same benefits.

Basically, it's a very capitalist way of saving money - Crown Corporations shouldn't be exploiting workers.
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Old 06-19-2013, 03:27 PM   #86
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Do you have any experience hiring workers for your company? I have hired people before and it takes time (the cost of which is my salary). If so, you would know that it costs money in terms of recruitment (either you outsource the recruitment, or you do it in-house) and training. Bus drivers need an average of 6 weeks to learn how to drive a bus safely. The point is is that you either spend money on OT, or you spend money to hire and train more drivers. There's no free lunch, unless you cut service.

There is definitely some fat to trim, but at the end of the day, public transit cannot be run like a business because it needs to balance access, service, and costs. If you want a lean and mean public transit system, you will not get the level of mediocre service we get today.
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Old 06-19-2013, 03:31 PM   #87
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...um, where you mention wanting to fire everyone at Translink for wanting more money and to do so by instituting new taxes, or raising existing taxes?

Then you mention wanting to expand Skytrain into Langley? Cause that'll be cheap and TOTALLY pay for itself.

Come on.
So by showing an example of Translinks line of thought, I clearly state that I'm not willing to pay for expansions?

I said they should be fired for their way of thinking. I stated that their only solutions are to raise taxes/implement new taxes.

Spoiler!


Btw.. Go back and read the post you clearly skipped over.
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Old 06-19-2013, 03:34 PM   #88
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It's not just hiring more - but it would also mean we would probably have more staff on board - who are working less than full time. Should Translink hire staff that are PT? I know Walmart in the states gets a lot of flak by hiring a lot of PT people, but they must keep their schedule open so they're unable to get a second job - but because they're PT, they don't have access to the same benefits.

Basically, it's a very capitalist way of saving money - Crown Corporations shouldn't be exploiting workers.
WM is deservingly taking a lot of flak for using PT staff to replace FT workers because that's what their goal is -- to replace FT staff using PT workers with minimal/no extended benefits. If PT workers are hired to supplement the FT staff, I would not view that as a capitalist measure to cut costs.

Additionally, I am not convinced that more staff on board would necessarily result in less full time staff. For example, if we have 2 FT drivers working 60 hr weeks (40 hrs FT + 20 hrs OT), that could be changed to 3 FT drivers each working 40 hrs weeks. Of course, the reality is not going to work out this easily. But I don't think more staff would necessarily force more PT workers in replacement of FT ones.
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Old 06-19-2013, 03:41 PM   #89
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Do you have any experience hiring workers for your company? I have hired people before and it takes time (the cost of which is my salary). If so, you would know that it costs money in terms of recruitment (either you outsource the recruitment, or you do it in-house) and training. Bus drivers need an average of 6 weeks to learn how to drive a bus safely. The point is is that you either spend money on OT, or you spend money to hire and train more drivers. There's no free lunch, unless you cut service.

There is definitely some fat to trim, but at the end of the day, public transit cannot be run like a business because it needs to balance access, service, and costs. If you want a lean and mean public transit system, you will not get the level of mediocre service we get today.
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While I am not in a leadership / managerial position to look after hiring, I am certainly familiar with the tradeoffs in OT vs additional new hires. There is a place for both practices, and in general, OT makes more sense if the extra work is meant to be short term, while new hires are more suitable for long term. Looking at the 2007 - 2011 numbers, Translink has obviously messed up on the OT vs new hire balance.

And the thing is, public transit isn't something that'll go away. It's a business that is here to stay. Ridership fluctuates, but given the steady growth of Vancouver's population, I think it is a pretty safe bet that service levels have to scale up with the population growth, so they are going to need some new hires. But what does Translink do in its infinite wisdom? Yup, they went for more OT instead.
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Old 06-19-2013, 03:58 PM   #90
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So by showing an example of Translinks line of thought, I clearly state that I'm not willing to pay for expansions?

I said they should be fired for their way of thinking. I stated that their only solutions are to raise taxes/implement new taxes.

Spoiler!


Btw.. Go back and read the post you clearly skipped over.
Maybe you should actually clearly write what you mean.
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Old 06-19-2013, 05:02 PM   #91
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Once they get these turnstiles in place, any word on them getting rid of zones in place of distance traveled?
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Old 06-19-2013, 05:23 PM   #92
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I said they should be fired for their way of thinking. I stated that their only solutions are to raise taxes/implement new taxes.
so, if you don't want Execs who want to raise taxes or implement new taxes (taxes that you'd be willing to pay, because clearly, you did not say you were against it), how do you propose they expand that Expo line out to Langley?

you want an Exec whos solution is NOT to raise taxes or implement new taxes, but then when that happens, you're gonna say "no! i want to pay more taxes for you to expand services!"?

but... if you're willing to pay for it anyway, what was wrong with the original Execs??

I think we would all like to know exactly what you mean. Clearly, the rest of us fail at reading comprehension.
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Old 06-19-2013, 06:20 PM   #93
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but... if you're willing to pay for it anyway, what was wrong with the original Execs??
A common argument is that management should take a pay cut, or that the dead weight should be let go. Let's map out such scenarios.

1. You ask management to take a 40-50% reduction in salary.
Some will stay, but others who know their worth and are talented will leave. Some will of course argue that the organization will survive and perhaps those talented enough from the lower ranks will fill the void and agree to assume managerial responsibilities for a lower salary.

2. You give pink slips to 90% of the staff making over 100K/year.
In addition to paying severance, you will lose corporate knowledge and expertise which would be hard to value. Sure, you can maybe make up for it by having those whippersnappers toiling away in their cubicles rise to the challenge, but in my experience, that would be a big risk to take.

Some will of course argue that as taxpayers we shouldn't bother trying to attract top talent because we only need organizations that deliver products/services that are just "good enough". It's a valid argument, though not applicable to all situations. Public transit is probably one of the most tangible services paid for by the taxpayer. People refuse to take the bus because it stinks, is not A/Ced, is noisy, etc. In truth, the bus fleet that Translink has is fairly up-to-date and comfortable by modern standards. Can you imagine if Translink still used buses from the 1960s? People would balk at taking such transportation. It's another reason why people prefer to take the Skytrain: it's modern (relatively), is more comfortable, and quicker. Skytrain is definitely a luxury system, but if we could go back in time to 1983, would we reject the construction of such a system because it was too expensive and considered a luxury? Of course not.
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Old 06-19-2013, 07:01 PM   #94
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Definite inefficiencies:



Driver absenteeism costs $12.1 million per year; the average driver takes 14 sick days per year.
At first I was like, holy shiet that's high, considering the Canadian average is about 5-6 sick days per year.

But I guess bus drivers are in contact with all sorts of people on a daily basis, and a lot of these folks I guess are not the cleanest, and many probably have the flu and colds taking the bus, infecting those around them. Reading the report shows that those on short and long term leaves are making this 14 day average higher than it actually is.

So imo this may not be an inefficiency. I'm just thinking of ways for bus drivers to not catch colds here, perhaps training them to wash their hands more often or have hand sanitizers on buses? I dont know. The benefit of reducing this number by 1 day is saving the company about ~ 800K a year, not much in the grand scheme of things when new infrastructure costs billions. But I guess it all adds up. . ..

I'm starting to think that savings can be done with the contracts on construction projects. With billion dollar projects, saving even 1% on a billion dollar contract is a lot of money. Take the port mann, it costed ~ $2.5 billion dollars, you save 1% off that cost and it's $25 Million

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Old 06-19-2013, 07:07 PM   #95
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At first I was like, holy shiet that's high, considering the Canadian average is about 5-6 sick days per year.
A lot of people who work in offices and don't necessarily interact with the public or with many others on a regular basis, including me, go to work "sick" because we can. When you're driving a bus and you're responsible for ensuring that people make it to their destinations safely, your job can be harder to do if you're feeling under the weather - after all, you're operating a machine and dealing with unruly people at the same time. I personally would rather pay for a few more sick days if it means less accidents. Truck drivers might say otherwise, but then again, they're hauling loads instead of people.

Of course, people seem to conveniently neglect the impact of what going to work sick has on productivity because you usually end up getting others sick, which requires them to call in sick down the road.
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Old 06-19-2013, 07:26 PM   #96
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A common argument is that management should take a pay cut, or that the dead weight should be let go. Let's map out such scenarios.
you were supposed to let him respond first before posting
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Old 06-19-2013, 08:58 PM   #97
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As a teacher, I got a lot more sick than most of the rest of my friends (students insisting they were fine and had to study). Working for a privately-owned ESL school, i didn't get any sick days, so any days I didn't work were days I didn't get paid. I can guarantee I'd've taken off at least a week a year, but it'd've meant half as much overall illness that I was suffering from. And just imagine--every day as a bus driver you're going to meet at least two sick people, and be trapped in a germ-filled box for 12 hours a day.

Iunno about you, but I'd rather not be on the bus when the driver is sick; distracted, sneezing, coughing, groggy, bleary... I mean, he's got fucking responsibility. Me, I'm sick and my students don't learn proper pronunciation. Him, he's sick, and people could get killed. Take your sick days.
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Old 06-19-2013, 11:49 PM   #98
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i know a guy whos a bus driver.. it actually is quite stressful TBH

and 25% parking tax.. FUCK YOUUUU

... i thought it was DT only
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Old 06-20-2013, 08:52 AM   #99
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Originally Posted by bobbinka View Post
so, if you don't want Execs who want to raise taxes or implement new taxes (taxes that you'd be willing to pay, because clearly, you did not say you were against it), how do you propose they expand that Expo line out to Langley?

you want an Exec whos solution is NOT to raise taxes or implement new taxes, but then when that happens, you're gonna say "no! i want to pay more taxes for you to expand services!"?

but... if you're willing to pay for it anyway, what was wrong with the original Execs??

I think we would all like to know exactly what you mean. Clearly, the rest of us fail at reading comprehension.
The information that you have to hunt for, because Translink decides not to openly say it:
http://www.ipick.ca/vancouver/transl...ate-23-billion

The $23 billion is broken down, keeping the current system in "good repair" costs $5 billion. And $18 billion is required for the Patullo Bridge, Surrey & Vancouver rapid transit & upgrades to the Expo Line.

Here is the Expo Line Strategy currently proposed by Translink:
Expo Line Upgrade Strategy

The big number was (2009-2010) $1.1 billion. Considering inflation, were coming in around $1.5 billion now-a-days.

Here's the Patullo bridge options:
Pattullo Bridge replacement options rolled out by TransLink - British Columbia - CBC News

A 2010 estimate states $1.2 billion. Calculating roughly 10% inflation per year, that brings us to a total of roughly $1.6-2 billion.

Now to account for the other $14.5 billion:
Surrey's Rapid Transit Options:
Surrey Rapid Transit Study

A nice round number of the 2013 study assumes roughly $2.2 billion at the top end.

I have searched through Translinks website yet have not found much on the Vancouver Strategy, maybe someone can point that out. Yet it's still hard to swallow Vancouver eating $12.3 billion of the budget.

So after about 2 hours of research, I can see Translink has ideas, yet wants money for all of them at once. An interesting strategy demanding $23 billion for upgrades to take place between now and 2040.

What I'd recommend? Throw road pricing out, and bridge in a system of tolling any bridge, at about $0.50/crossing. Also have a watchdog corporation do all the accounting work for this. I'm tired of having money "slip through the cracks" and not know where its going. (Kind of like the $12.3 billion mentioned above for Vancouver rapid transit strategy).

The End.
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Old 06-20-2013, 10:55 AM   #100
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