The Question of TransLink Waste – Daryl Dela Cruz’s Referendum Myths

In the upcoming 2015 Metro Vancouver Transportation and Transit Plebiscite, the question of waste at TransLink has loomed large. In fact, it’s the crux of No TransLink Tax campaign – a campaign running successfully on the visceral, instead of the logical. It’s a campaign that strikes a chord – no new taxes. It’s a simple and emotional statement. Why no new taxes? Well, because TransLink has squandered all of its existing money. Really?

Daryl Dela Cruz at Daryl’s Take and More has created a few blog posts addressing the matters of inefficiency and waste at TransLink.

Referendum Myths: TransLink Inefficiencies

Daryl was great at crunching numbers (which I am not) and found that the claim that TransLink is inefficient, but is in fact one of the most efficient public. He highlights the difference between cost-efficiency and cost-effectiveness. It turns out that TransLink may not be cost-effective because the agency must serve rural areas like South Delta, but it is one of the most cost-effective agencies in the country.

From Page 21 of the Shirocca Consulting TransLink Efficiency Review, 2012

Not having as many revenue passengers per bus is an inevitable result of the area serviced. For example: Vancouver scores as first, because it is laid out in a standard urban grid that was developed around transit corridors, and has had transit longer than any other city; all of this has proven advantageous for upkeep of the city’s transit cost-effectiveness. You shouldn’t expect the same kind of cost-effectiveness in South Delta – which is far away from any major city centres (resulting in longer, more expensive transit routes), and was not built around transit services.

Look at all the other data and metrics. TransLink is stellar when you look at all the numbers. The No TransLink Tax is focused on one metric that makes the agency look awful, but all the numbers are gobsmackingly impressive. Look at these charts.


It costs TransLink less to operate its system per service hour (I’m assuming this means 1 hour of service given by any transit vehicle in the fleet) than any other agency. I know already that the SkyTrain has much lower operating costs than other rapid transit systems because it is an automated system that requires less manpower to actually run the vehicles.

We get more bang for our buck in Metro Vancouver. We get way more transit service in hours from TransLink for every $1 million we put into the agency.

For each person in Metro Vancouver, TransLink provides the most hours of service. In all these graphs, TransLink outperforms its peers from across the country.

In his conclusion, Daryl outlines what he thinks is the resounding success of TransLink:

What I think this goes to show is the success of Metro Vancouver’s public transit operations model.

Whereas cities like Toronto and Montreal do not have coherency and may have multiple transit operators servicing the metro area (Toronto has 9 different authorities, some of them with overlapping responsibilities), we have one and it has been this way throughout history.

Read more about his methodology and reasoning on the original post.

You can read more of Daryl’s work on his blog, Daryl’s Take and More. Some of his posts were even picked up by mainstream media.


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