Two years ago, Mayor Watts leaked how much money Surrey contributes to TransLink: $144 million annually. That included $44 million in property taxes and $100 million in gas taxes – fares weren’t accounted for. Around that same time, Delta was openly musing about leaving TransLink and starting a separate transit agency for the South Fraser. However, Vancouverites argued that bus services in the SoF did not recover their costs, and therefore were being subsidized by more productive routes North of the Fraser. Separation, they argued, would be mobility suicide out here.
New data has been uncovered that shows just how wrong they were. While it is true that bus routes here aren’t as productive as some North of the Fraser, the stats reveal that the actual annual operating cost for all 29 bus routes and 8 shuttle routes in Surrey totals just $49 million.
That effectively means that Surrey sends nearly 2/3 of its transit taxes to support services elsewhere in the region. It also means that those naysayers who claimed a separate South Fraser transit agency couldn’t support existing services were flat out wrong. In fact, if we kept the money within our borders, we could make substantial service improvements to existing routes. Or, as another option, we would have $100 million in annual revenue available to build a comprehensive Light Rail network across the City.