Translink’s fare incentive rollback risks rolling back ridership gains

Translink’s surprise rollback yesterday of a range of transit fare incentive programs will hit riders hard, especially in the wake of this year’s 10 percent fare increase.

Without knowing the final fare structure for Compass cards, due to be released later this year, it’s impossible to know the full impact of eliminating employer pass programs and family fares on Sundays. (Bicycles now will ride ride free on West Coast Express, however!)

But Translink’s own news release, which did not detail how much money will be raised by the measures, notes that ridership has risen 84 percent since 2001, while service increased only 50 percent. That gap has meant many overcrowded routes, pass-ups and service reductions in outlying areas.

Translink and the Translink fare commissioner have both noted that further fare increases could lead to ridership declines — exactly the wrong direction for a crucial service. Transit riders already cover 32 percent of Translink’s revenue requirements.

With fuel tax declining as a revenue source, new sources of funds are desperately needed. Transit riders will not be ready to volunteer for a larger burden, nor should they have to.