TransLink seeks extra $70M annually for expansion
TransLink is reporting a substantial rise in public transit use, with more than 114-million trips during the first half of 2011 alone – but officials say the system won't be able to meet public demand for long.
Spokesman Ken Hardie said the company is well on track to set its 10th annual ridership record in a row, but doesn't have the resources to keep up if the increase continues.
"We're going to be, very shortly I think, leaving people by the road," Hardie said. "The quality of service is not going to be there at a time when the region really needs public transit."
Ridership in the first half of 2011 was up four per cent from the same period last year, despite the boost experienced during the 2010 Winter Olympics in February.
Hardie said the company is looking for an additional $70 million per year in revenue to fund the expansion, which would include the long-awaited Evergreen Line.
It would also add new routes, increase SeaBus sailings and fund an upgrade to SkyTrain stations. TransLink estimates the expansion would accommodate a further 40-million transit rides per year by 2021.
"The demand keeps proving that it's there, and we would like to be able to fulfill it," Hardie said.
The two cent per litre gas tax increase would pay for more than half of the added revenue, but officials are still looking for an agreeable way to provide the rest.
TransLink will be holding a series of public meetings in September to discuss possible funding options.
"We haven't found many people who don't like what we're proposing to do," Hardie said, "But coming to an agreement about how we're going to pay for it is, of course, the stickiest wicket."