No credit for TransLink – 1: The Media

No Credit for TransLink - A blog series on darylvsworld.wordpress.com. Original photo: CC BY-SA Lisa Parker, flickr

So, TransLink.

Everyone hates the name, whips them around, and places insubordinate amounts of blame on them for rather small-scale issues; the PR team gets put through no-win scenario after no-win scenario, and the many of us on the sidelines paying attention to the region’s transit issues are starting to become worried, given this public perception may be key in the face of an already-gloomy looking outcome for a transit expansion referendum later this year. In short, TransLink has become a tarnished brand.

It has seemed for a long time that there are few people, if any, out there who are able to see the good that TransLink does or has in place for us (one example: we in fact collectively pay less up-front at the farebox than other large cities in Canada for our transit); and, many times I’ve pointed out many times how twisting of important data creates that inability. However, there are some instances I have noticed, which are not ensured by any sort of twisted data, that just befuddle me and make me wonder what in the blazes is going on.

An example in particular that’s on my mind right now? The Georgia Straight report by Stephen Hui on the recently announced 2014 TransLink service optimization [CLICK HERE].

The writer makes mention of two important points of service optimization (changes requiring consultation, and changes involving service reduction), but completely fails to point out a number of positive changes that were also listed in the TransLink source page:

Additional Changes

TransLink also plans to make frequency and service improvements along busy corridors across the system. These improvements will be implemented over the course of the year during regularly scheduled service changes in April, June, September and December.

Service Improvements:

  • Fraser Hwy. (Surrey/Langley) (502)
  • Scott Rd. and 72nd Ave. (Delta/Surrey) (319)
  • 410 service in Richmond (Richmond/New Westminster)
  • 41st Ave. (Vancouver/UBC) (41/43)
  • 49th Ave. (Vancouver/UBC/Burnaby) (49)
  • Broadway (Vancouver/UBC) (9/99/14)
  • Hastings St. (Vancouver/SFU) (135)
  • Como Lake (Coquitlam/SFU) (143)
  • Marine Dr. (North Shore) (239)

Notice how the first change on the list suggests that a badly needed service improvement on Surrey’s overcrowded 502 route is the top priority. Such a prospect should have come hand-in-hand with cheers, good feelings, and “finally!” letters to the editor; however, the writer does not give any readers the opportunity to celebrate, simply failing to mention these positive service improvements.

It doesn’t come as a surprise for me, because this won’t be the first time I’ve pointed out the Georgia Straight and its authors for what seems to be a biased, anti-TransLink view. And, assuming I am right about such a motive, it’s a very clever move on their part. The writer approaches the topic with neutrality and objectivity, not spinning the article with any obvious viewpoint, but readers are likely to make up their own spin anyway because they see only neutrals or negatives, and do not see the omitted positives.

It’s not just the Straight, either. I’m sure most of you remember the time last year when the media (especially TV media) converged on TransLink for doing as any other company would by providing coffee to its employees.

So, to the media gurus out there with the competence to possibly provide me with an answer… I’d like to ask you a question.

Why is there such a need for TransLink to be seen by the public as the bad guy?

A stopped TransLink articulated low-floor electric trolley. Photo credit: CC BY-SA Flickr: Atomic Taco
Photo credit: CC BY-SA Flickr: Atomic Taco

22, KPU Geography, J-POP enthusiast. Founding director of SkyTrain for Surrey.