“The system was stretched because we had queuing at some of the downtown stations. The maximum queue was 40 to 50 minutes over at SeaBus on the north side and at our main hub at waterfront where we have West Coast Express commuter rail coming in, SeaBus coming. So queue management became an integral component.
“It took us a couple of days to get those schemes working well. But everyone was in a great mood. Customers were in a fantastic mood. It was a great atmosphere,” Jarvis says.
“It all worked very well.”
So what lessons did they take away from such a momentous challenge? Jarvis says that their vision for TransLink is an achievable one.
“You look at our Transport 2040 document, which is a vision for the transportation 30 years out and a list of six objectives similar probably to any transit or transportation agency across North America or in Canada. You put those elements together.
“We had the assets; we had the funding to enable the service. We encouraged folks to think about transit as an alternative. And incentivising that by having transit in the event tickets. Work with educational institutions and shopping centers to have additional park and ride facilities.
“The origins and destinations were on transportation corridors that had the capacity. [There was] partnering with the city to give priority on the road network to priority trips.
“You put that all together, it works. You can move tremendous amounts of people very effectively,” Jarvis says. “That’s the legacy from my perspective.”
Ridership and Revenue
I asked Jarvis if the Winter Olympics had a sustainable increase on TransLink’s ridership and he said it’s early, but that overall system ridership is up after the event showing that they did maintain some Olympics ridership.
Jarvis points to the Canada Line which is in excess of 100,000 boardings a day.
“It’s important to know that the Canada Line connects to the airport, but it also connects to another major destination, which is the city of Richmond,” Jarvis says.
“There’s a fair bit of development and density that exists along the line out there. So I would … my experience on the Canada Line is that there’s a mix of commuters, shoppers, folks, greeters going up to the airport, travelers and in terms of the profile around ridership during the day, it has peaks as any system does, but there is pretty good ridership during the day and late evening as well.”
Jarvis says TransLink benefits from a broad mix of revenues, but close to 40 percent of operations are funded by the farebox with property and fuel tax evenly split making up the remainder.
“In our experiences that’s fairly positive,” Jarvis says.
“Are we vulnerable? Yes, [you’re] vulnerable when you rely on transit. Transit varies with the economy, and so do fuel taxes — and they also vary with price. If the price goes up, it costs us more and people that drive cars are more likely to consider transit.”
Jarvis says that looking forward you need to start looking at sources that drive not only revenue, but encourage people to consider the impact of the trips they are making.
“So [using] revenue sources that have a demand management component to them,” Jarvis says.
“And encourage the most productive use of the services that we have available. That’s going to be the challenge going forward for the region.”
Being caught literally between a rock and hard place in the mountains to the east and ocean to the west, Vancouver has to be careful about its growth — and this especially includes transit.
“What transit and transportation is about is creating great places to live and work, to maintain the livability and economic viability,” Jarvis says.
“So it all starts with that, so it’s got to go with land-use and economic planning. So by mandate our long term plans need to support the land use plans for the region.
“So we work in close partnership with metro Vancouver who has responsibility for regional land use planning. Also we work closely with — there are 21 municipalities that make up the metro Vancouver. We work with them. We’re out reviewing their official community plans to make certain that they get comments relative to the developments being supportive of good transportation. So it all starts at that high-level planning.