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TransLink adds 'accountability centre' to make more data public

Transit agency expects to roll out fare review policy recommendations in spring 2018
TransLink CEO Kevin Desmond.

A new era of accountability is starting at TransLink, according to CEO Kevin Desmond.

Desmond, who is formerly from King County, says the new accountability centre was a top priority for him.

It consists of a section of TransLink’s website that allows members of the public access to ridership stats, board meeting minutes and other statistics among 30 different performance measures. It’s a tool commonly used to increase transparency in other transit agencies in North America, Desmond said.

“I would consider this accountability centre version 1.0,” said Desmond. “We’re looking for feedback from the public.”

The accountability centre includes three main sections: a regional snapshot, a performance dashboard and a transparency section.

“What you’re going to see on the performance dashboard is primarily operating stats,” said Desmond.

At least one of those measures is up, he added, with TransLink reporting a 4.5 per cent ridership increase in 2016.

“It’s been a long time since we’ve seen that kind of ridership boost,” Desmond said.

“It will take time to tease out the impact of Compass but I believe Compass had an impact on that.”

The full closure of faregates has also been credited with reducing fare evasion and spurring more riders to pay.

Compass cards were rolled out for general ridership in late 2015. According to Desmond, 95 per cent of riders are using them now.

While no changes to the current three-zone fare system were rolled out along with the Compass cards, TransLink vice-president of transportation planning and policy Geoff Cross told the Mayors' Council Thursday that policy recommendations for a change were expected by early 2018. The fare system hasn’t seen an update since 1984.

Initial public consultation began last summer and TransLink is getting ready to begin a second phase.

“The way that people travel has changed and the region has also doubled in size,” said Cross. “We now have different patterns as opposed to back in 1984, when a higher proportion of jobs were concentrated in the Burrard peninsula. We now have more regional centres and we have travel going each and every which way.”

The Compass system also allows TransLink to look at zone boundaries and address complaints about riders taking short trips over zone boundaries, paying much more than someone taking a longer trip through one zone.

On-time performance is a priority for TransLink going forward, Desmond noted – riders’ satisfaction with high-frequency buses (those scheduled to come every 5-10 minutes) is going down. It dropped from 76.5 per cent in December 2015 to 66.7 per cent in December 2016.

“It’s going down largely because of two things: increasing traffic which is also caused by a lot of construction, which just messes up bus service,” Desmond said. “If traffic is going up and congestion is increasing, the amount of time it takes the bus from point A to point B is longer. The average speed is going down.”

Less frequent service (buses that come every 15 minutes or more) was only at 45.3 per cent in December 2016 – down from 49.3 per cent in December 2015.



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