TransLink fares set to increase on Canada Day 2023

Mar 25 2023, 6:09 pm

The cost to use Metro Vancouver’s public transit system will be go up starting early this summer.

During a public meeting on Wednesday, March 29, TransLink’s board of directors are expected to approve the annual fare hike, which will come into effect on July 1, 2023. TransLink’s annual fare hike coincides with Canada Day each year.

There will be an average 2.3% fare increase for 2023, which is the maximum fare increase permitted by the provincial government in exchange for receiving provincial emergency operating subsidies early on in the pandemic. The 2.3% annual fare increase limit is in effect between 2021 and 2024.

For the upcoming 2023 increase, single-trip fares using the Compass Card’s stored value will go up by five or 10 cents for both adult and concession, and for all zone types. For example, adult single-trip fares on Compass Card’s stored value for one-zone will go up by $0.05 from $2.50 to $2.55, while two-zone and three-zone will go up by $0.10 to $3.75 and $4.80, respectively.

For single-trip rides paid with cash, credit card, debit card, mobile wallet, or from a Compass ticket vending machine, fares will go up by between $0.05 and $0.15, depending on zone. Such fares will go up by $0.05 to $3.15 for one-zone, $0.10 to $4.55 for two-zone, and $0.15 to $6.20 for three-zone.

For adult monthly passes, fares will rise by $2.35 to $104.90 for one-zone, $3.15 to $140.25 for two-zone, and $189.45 to $4.25 for three-zone.

The concession monthly pass — for seniors ages 65 and older and youth ages 18 and under — will increase by $1.35 to $59.95, which provides unlimited rides on all three zones. It should be noted that since 2021, youth 12 years old and under have been able to ride public transit for free, as long as they are accompanied by one fare-paying passenger (in a group of no more than four kids).

The daypass will increase by $0.25 to $11.25 for adults, and $0.20 to $8.85 for concession.

Separate fare increases are also set for the West Coast Express and HandyDART.

It should be reminded that multi-zone fares apply to SkyTrain, SeaBus, and West Coast Express. All buses across the region cost one-zone, regardless of how many zones they travel through.

The most recent statistics shows an overwhelming majority of riders access public transit using Compass, whether it be through the Compass Card, credit cards, or mobile wallet. Only about 5% pay their fare using cash, with the growing number of fare payment options helping to reduce lines for Compass vending machines at busy stations.

translink 2023 fare increase

2023 fare increases for Metro Vancouver’s conventional public transit system. This does not include West Coast Express and HandyDART. (TransLink)

TransLink cancelled its 4.6% fare increase in 2020 due to the pandemic, and the 2021 fare increase of 2.3% that went into effect was well below the originally planned pre-pandemic scheduled increase of 4.1% for that year to help fund regional public transit expansion and improvement costs. The 2022 fare increase was also set at 2.3%.

Although ridership as of early 2023 has rebounded to over 80% of pre-pandemic 2019 volumes, TransLink continues to face demand-driven revenue shortfalls, as a higher proportion of passengers are using lower cost fare products — such as single-trip fares — instead of the more expensive monthly passes. Earlier this year, TransLink staff noted 94% of their customer base has returned, but they are taking fewer trips, with semi-remote office work being one of the reasons for the shift.

Last week, the provincial government announced $479 million in additional subsidies for TransLink to cover forecasted revenue shortfalls between 2023 and 2025, bringing the combined total pandemic-time emergency operating subsidies from the provincial and federal governments to $1.3 billion. The latest provincial subsidy infusion avoids major service cuts starting later in 2023 until 2025, and job layoffs and major fare increases beyond 2024 have now also been averted.

TransLink is in the process of considering a $216-million upgrade of the Compass and fare gate system, which is expected to allow the public transit authority to transition from the existing zone-based fare system to a distance-travelled fare system.

Kenneth ChanKenneth Chan

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