TransLink to hike fares by an average of 2.3% as ridership uncertainty continues

·2 min read
People at a Vancouver SkyTrain on the first day of TransLink’s mandatory mask rule on Aug. 24, 2020.  (Ben Nelms/CBC - image credit)
People at a Vancouver SkyTrain on the first day of TransLink’s mandatory mask rule on Aug. 24, 2020. (Ben Nelms/CBC - image credit)

TransLink's first transit fare increase in two years is coming on July 1.

The organization's board of directors passed an increase at its meeting Thursday, an average 2.3 per cent hike from current rates.

Originally, TransLink had planned a 4.6 per cent increase in 2020 and 4.1 per cent increase in 2021, to help fund a number of service increases in the transit system.

But due to the pandemic, last year's planned increase was cancelled and this year's has been reduced, as the organization continues to grapple with the long-term uncertainty of when, or if, ridership will return to pre-COVID levels.

"With all the uncertainty that COVID introduced in the system, we can't provide these forecasts any more," said TransLink vice-president Geoff Cross, as he explained why specific long-term ridership and financial scenarios were no longer being used as baselines by the organization.

"We really don't know what will happen six months from now."

TransLink said the small increase in fares is required to maintain current levels, and that keeping fares lower is a condition of the emergency $644-million funding from provincial and federal governments announced last year.

After dipping below 20 per cent of peak ridership levels at the start of the pandemic, ridership has stayed stable at around 40 per cent since around August.

TransLink's new modelling estimates ridership will likely rebound to between 60 and 91 per cent of pre-pandemic levels in 2022, based on modelling from hundreds of simulated scenarios.

The organization is also still looking for a new permanent CEO, following the departure of Kevin Desmond in early February.

Some of the new fare increases, effective July 1, 2021:

  • Adult 1-Zone: $3 to $3.05

  • Adult 2-Zone: $4.25 to $4.35

  • Adult 3-Zone: $5.75 to $5.90

  • 1-Zone monthly pass: $98 to $100.25

  • 2-Zone monthly pass: $131 to $134

  • 3-Zone monthly pass: $177 to $181

  • Concession monthly pass: $56 to $57.30