How is transit funded in Metro Vancouver?

[avatar user=”Keane Gruending” size=”medium” align=”left”]

Ever wondered how our region’s transit system is paid for? It’s complicated.

Like many in North America, Metro Vancouver’s transit system is funded through multiple sources. In 2012, TransLink’s revenue, $1.40 billion in total, came from four general sources:


  • fare box revenue from transit users (33%)
  • municipal gas taxes (24%)
  • a combination of “other” sources (22%), and
  • a share of municipal property taxes (21%).

“Other” revenue includes funding from other levels of government, provincial and federal, as well as from parking and tolls. TransLink not only provides public transit in the form of buses, Skytrains, and sea buses, but is also responsible for bridges and major roads throughout Metro Vancouver as well as some cycling infrastructure. The infographic below outlines TransLink’s 2012 revenue sources along with an outlook for future years (1).



Click for larger view – opens in new window (PDF)

TransLink’s 2012 funding of $1.40 billion is slated to grow 3.6% per year to $1.61 billion by 2016. Over that period, revenue from gas taxes are expected to remain steady and TransLink’s share of property taxes and transit fare revenue will increase. Unfortunately, this additional funding won’t translate to more buses and Skytrains thanks to inflation and population growth.

Between 2011 and 2021 the region will welcome half a million new residents and substantial economic development and job growth (2). Yet, under current forecasts, transit service will not grow accordingly, remaining at approximately 7,000,000 service hours per year over the next decade. With current funding only sufficient for maintaining service levels, the question of how to pay for much needed capital projects, like the proposed Surrey light rail and Broadway subway systems, is an open one.

(Feature photo courtesy of mag3737/Flickr)