Scrutineers are putting TransLink through too many zero-win scenarios

Looking forward inside a Vancouver transit bus. Photo: CC-BY-NC-ND Flickr: Cyprien
Looking forward inside a Vancouver transit bus. Photo: CC-BY-NC-ND Flickr: Cyprien

Scrutineers are putting TransLink into so many zero-win scenarios that it is starting to become absurd.

A growing petition has been launched against the TransLink decision (not that it was a recent decision, as this condition has always been a part of the Compass fare payment program and others have pointed it out earlier) to save $25 million in equipment costs and require extra fares for those who want to go from bus to SkyTrain and use cash fare on the bus. The issue received releases by several media outlets earlier today and has garnered a lot of attention and lashing.

But, I personally reckon that a large number of the people who are signing the petition can, in fact, afford the $6 deposit for a Compass Card (the key to being able to transfer from bus to SkyTrain without extra fees – and with fare discounts, even), and are signing for the sake of hate feelings against TransLink. (After all, how many low-income and homeless people – i.e. people who would really lose out and have a real reason to complain (not that they will, as arrangements to accomodate them are being worked on) – have a computer to access the site and sign?)

It costs just a $6 deposit to be able to transfer from bus to SkyTrain without extra fees
It costs just a $6 deposit and being at one of 420 vending machines to have this card and be able to transfer from bus to SkyTrain without extra fees

I also reckon that many of these same people who are signing this petition are taxpayers – taxpayers who are saving money because of this arrangement – and that many of these same people would kick, cry and scream in much the same way if TransLink had indeed decided to spend the $25 million just to get compass-compatible single ticket readers on buses. We would certainly see comments from prominent voices on TransLink taxing choices, such as the Canadian Taxpayers Federation’s Jordan Bateman, who is awkwardly quiet and speechless as of today’s news.

Now, this is all just speculation, but the hypocrisy from these members of the public would be staggering if it can be proven.

This is just one of many times that TransLink has had to go through a no-win scenario to public scrutiny.

Just earlier this year, TransLink was being grilled for the provision of free coffee to its employees. However, it doesn’t take a lot to know that TransLink is probably not the only agency in North America and the world that provides free coffee to its employees.

I don’t understand how an upcoming referendum on transit expansion that absolutely must be won is going to be, if this is the kind of attitude that is going to come from scrutineers. No matter what happens, TransLink is in a position where it can garner a lot of hate and anger. It’s like how some bloggers like Gordon Price have said – TransLink has become a “whipping boy” for authorities like the provincial government.

An overcrowded platform at VCC-Clark SkyTrain station. SkyTrain service cuts during all off-peak hours were among some of the "efficiency" recommendations in the recent TransLink audits.
An overcrowded platform at VCC-Clark SkyTrain station – something that could become a regular sight of a referendum on transit funding is lost.

Heck, in tomorrow’s Surrey Leader, there’s going to be a newsletter called ‘Cast-off’ buses geared for Surrey riders, written by a Fraser Heights resident, who dislikes the use of full-size buses on the route #337 Fraser Heights. It’s a very short-sighted opinion, as the writer does not realize that the 337 is the fastest growing bus route by ridership growth in Surrey (according to: TransLink bus performance data), and does require the capacity of full-size buses in order to prevent pass-ups and accomodate standing-room only buses during the peak hours (I know this first hand as I ride #337). I’m hoping that my response to this makes the next issue.

I’ve said for a long time now that we must collectively reject and abandon the idea of a TransLink referendum because of TransLink’s spoiled brand.

And, according to my reading subscription list, others have recently been mirrorring my concerns.