November 8, 2022 – Kevin Quinn, CEO of Translink – Topic: “The future of transportation in Metro Vancouver’

Kevin Quinn Translink CEO

Kevin Quinn is the Chief Executive Officer of TransLink, Metro Vancouver’s award-winning transportation authority. As CEO, Kevin Quinn oversees management, planning, financing, and delivery of a growing world-class transportation network that includes bus, SkyTrain, SeaBus, HandyDART, and West Coast Express transit services, along with five regional bridges, walking and cycling paths, and the Major Road Network.

Before joining TransLink, Kevin served as Administrator and Chief Executive Officer of the Maryland Transit Administration (MTA), one of the largest multi-modal transit systems in the U.S. with six transit modes, including buses, subway, light rail, paratransit, and commuter bus and rail.

Kevin holds a master’s degree in Public Policy from Johns Hopkins University. He has been a member of the American Institute of Certified Planners (AICP) since 2010 and was recognized as one of Mass Transit magazine’s Top 40 under 40 transit professionals.

 

Transcription of Presentation.
Kevin Quinn was introduced by Bill Hooker.

A healthy, sustainable, and resilient transit system is vital to a healthy economy and is an important solution to many global and region-specific challenges today that affect quality of life, like the
rapidly growing population, the accelerating and destructive climate emergency, the affordability crisis, and road congestion. While there isn’t always a consensus on how we should fund it, it is clear that people want and need transit. Of course, there are a lot of factors to consider, so Kevin Quinn, the new CEO of TransLink, gave an update on some of the organization’s work and their plans for the next 10-30 years to improve how people move around the region.

In 2019, TransLink was awarded the American Public Transportation Association System of the Year Award, largely due to the rapid ridership growth of the system pre-COVID, increasing by17% over five years. When COVID hit, ridership plummeted to about 14% of normal levels. Some North American cities cut services by up to 40% and are now struggling with bus operator shortages as their ridership returns. Fortunately, the region’s policymakers recognized the value of the transit system. With federal and provincial relief, TransLink was able to keep service levels at nearly 100% for all of the frontline workers who still depended on the system. Ridership is now back at 82% of prepandemic levels, making Metro Vancouver the leader of North American ridership return, largely because service levels remained high.

TransLink has recently made significant investments to improve the customer experience, encouraging people to choose to use transit more regularly. TransLink makes every decision, from
planning to investment to delivering services, with customers in mind. They recently opened a beautiful TransLink Customer Service Center at Waterfront Station. In order to improve different
modes of transportation, they rolled out a Bike Bus at the Tsawwassen Ferry Terminal for cyclists. Soon, TransLink will be one of the only systems in North America to have braille signage on all 8,000 bus stops for folks with visual impairments who rely heavily on the bus system. They’re also in the process of rolling out Wi-Fi on some busses and stations, and they’ve also introduced
new fleets to increase capacity, like double-decker busses and new passenger information displays that let people know when the next bus is coming.

Transit systems play a big role in our climate. TransLink has a Low Carbon Fleet Strategy and a Climate Action Strategy that sets the organization on a path to net zero GHG emissions by 2050. With the expansion of the electric bus program (including the facilities to charge them), they’ll be slashing GHGs by 45%, by 2030. By 2035 all of the hybrid diesel busses will be off the road.
Meeting their GHG goals isn’t just about changing over the bus fleet. While more people walking or cycling means less revenue for TransLink, it’s good for the environment. So, their goal is to
make choosing transit or active transportation so easy that people leave their cars behind. In 2022, they invested over $130 million on municipal projects like road, cycling path and sidewalk
maintenance and upgrade projects. Moreover, in January, TransLink approved Transport 2050 which was informed by three years of public engagement and included some really bold moves including building out an 850-km protective major bikeway network.

With overcrowded trains and busses, even with significant investments, our transit system pre-pandemic wasn’t keeping up with the growth. In an evermore expensive and congested region, Metro Vancouver’s population is expected to grow by 1 million in the next 20 years. With over 50,000 people coming in every year, TransLink has started to take steps to address the challenges
associated with this rapid growth. In collaboration with their Mayors’ Council, TransLink broke Transport 2050 into 10-year implementation plans. Over the next ten years, they will invest $20 billion to achieve three key objectives.

The first objective is a convenient, reliable, safe and comfortable network. This objective takes a bus-first approach. While busses aren’t as sexy as Skytrain expansions, we need upgrades now.
Skytrain stations take a lot of time and money to build and approve. With 80% of voters supporting increased busses, TransLink will more than double current bus service levels, make
HandyDART a 24-hour service, and improve passenger safety and comfort at transit stops.

Our streets for years have been built for cars. With that, the second objective is to invest in a transformation to more people first-streets, where active transport is the most convenient choice for people. In the next ten years, TransLink hopes to complete 75% (450 km) of the 2050 Major Bikeway Network and 66% of the 2050 walkway network. They’re also aiming to install bike lockers, bike parkades, and counters, and to upgrade the BC Parkway to make active transportation safe and convenient for everyone.

The last piece is reliable and fast transit networks. As part of Transport 2050, TransLink will be expanding the size of the rapid transit network from 100km to 400km. Over the next ten years,
TransLink aims to build 170 kilometres of rapid transit. This includes the Burnaby Mountain Gondola, the Millennium Line UBC Extension, and nine Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) corridors. BRTs are
popular in other parts of the world and what differentiates them from other busses is that they have dedicated lanes and transit signal priority. They’re also characterized by new modern stations,
off-board fare collection, and sleek, spacious, comfortable vehicles that feel more like a train type of experience.

With all of the big changes in our region and the challenges associated with them, TransLink is moving forward with urgency, flexibility, and sustainability towards a sustainable and liveable future for all Metro Vancouverites.

Zul Tejpar thanked Kevin for his most informative and entertaining presentation and handed him the customary honorarium in
the form of a cheque to the charity of Kevin’s choice.

Transcription of Q&A session coming soon.


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