News Local

TransLink hits surplus in year-end 2013

By Michael Mui, 24 Hours Vancouver



Cost-cutting measures such as optimization of bus routes and new software upgrades for SkyTrain have helped put TransLink in the black, according to its annual report.

TransLink chief financial officer Cathy McLay told 24 hours on Wednesday the transit provider had a surplus of $47.9 million at the end of 2013, an amount that’s been added to its “safety net” totaling $342.7 million.

“We’re particularly proud this year,” she said.

McLay said Coast Mountain Bus Company found $9.4 million in savings last year, B.C. Rapid Transit Company saved $2.1 million, and TransLink’s administrative headquarters was responsible for $2.7 million savings.

Using existing resources, TransLink also managed to find another $2 million in additional annual revenue. McLay said much of that additional cash is from service-optimization efforts — now nearly plateaued at $1.5 million of annual revenue.

Other new sources of money include pay parking added at the Carvolth and South Surrey Park and Ride facilities late last year, which brought in $100,000.

TransLink also cancelled the purchase of 66 buses this year, along with associated parts.

“What we’re looking at is how many buses need to be on standby … over our last couple of years, our maintenance practice has improved so much that we’ve had less reliance on spare ratios,” McLay said.

A good chunk of savings was due to increased workloads and reduced new hires, she said, adding TransLink is also reducing contracted workers numbers in some areas and using internal staff instead.

“(We’re) taking a look at staffing positions and saying, when people leave — retire — do we need to fill that position? We’ve been able to reduce that by not filling it,” McLay said.

Drivers’ turnaround times — the time they use when they arrive at a main terminal before they head back onto the road — have also been shortened by an average of about three minutes.

“And it’s those three minutes — cumulative — that could add up enough to take out a shift or take out a bus.”

In terms of service cuts, Expo and Millennium SkyTrains did have weekend mid-day frequencies reduced by one minute, but that won’t continue, she added.




Big savings in 2013

  • Service optimization: $1.5 million
  • Not ordering 66 buses and associated parts: $2 million
  • New park and ride revenue: $100,000
  • Reducing weekend SkyTrain service: $390,000
  • Using community shuttles on low-frequency routes: $411,000

Source: TransLink statutory annual report

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