You’ve probably noticed that one of the things I really enjoy ranting about here is our ever-lovin’ regional transit authority – TransLink. And for good reason: they’re essentially a public company that is run with an eye to the bottom line. Now, I’m all for government being run like a business in every way, with the sole exception of turning a profit; ideally, they just need to break even. TransLink is having some issues lately: demands for increased service, inability to provide that, and the opening of the new Canada Line that will run from downtown Vancouver, to the airport and Richmond.
Its no secret that skytrain technology is expensive. Sure, its an efficient way to move people around, but its damn expensive to install, run and difficult to make any money off of it. This is especially consternating when there are perfectly good, unused rail lines that could be used for at-grade light rail systems at a much lower price.
Everywhere, TransLink is trying to push people to take transit (or carpool, or telecommute, or whatever) because transit is a more sustainable (whatever that means) option than taking a single-occupancy vehicle (SOV). And then they go and do stupid stuff like this:
TransLink and the Coast Mountain Bus Company propose to terminate buses bound for downtown Vancouver from Richmond, Delta, Tsawwassen and White Rock at either the Richmond-Brighouse or Bridgeport Canada Line Stations.
What this means is that people who usually take one bus to get from Richmond to Vancouver will now have to hop the bus, transfer to the skytrain, and then go downtown. All in the name of boosting ridership so that, on paper, it looks like the skytrain is turning a profit.
Yes, I said ON PAPER. They’ve done this before, you see.
When the Millenium Line went in, my commute to SFU changed drastically. In fact, I went from taking transit to driving. Before the Millenium Line, I used to walk down to the mall (4 blocks) and take the bus up the hill. It took about 20-30 minutes, depending.
When the Millenium Line went in, I had to walk down to the mall, take the skytrain (which was packed) to the next station and then wait in a line to get on a bus with everyone else to get up the hill.
My commute changed from 20-30 minutes to 45-60 minutes. I lived, literally, at the bottom of the hill.
What this proves to me is that TransLink’s focus is on its bottom line rather than on encouraging people to more sustainable modes of transportation. By shortening, cutting, and changing routes this way to increase ridership on the most expensive form of public transit we have to inflate (at least on paper) your profits for what is really a limited-demand service, you’re not encouraging people to use sustainable transportation. Not one bit.
I have a friend who works in one municipality, and lives in the neighbouring one. If he drives, it takes him 20 minutes to get to the office. If he takes transit, its 1.5 hours each way. He has two small kids at home. You tell me what mofe of transportation he’s going to take.
That same article has a quote from the NDP critic which sums it up nicely:
NDP transportation critic Maurine Karagianis said some of the bus route changes don’t make sense.
“Part of the allure of a good public transportation system is that it’s efficient. …They’re going to manipulate the system in order to meet the goals of the Canada Line,” she said.
TransLink also says we need a change in values and attitude to use public transit. I call bullshit. You can’t take away people’s options and then tell them that they need to change their attitudes. That’s not fair – in fact, that’s arrogant and not understanding at all.
In fact, I’d like to know if Tom Prendergast takes public transit to work on a regular basis, or if he drives. I’m willing to bet the latter. When I went to a public TransLink meeting out here in Maple Ridge, the execs who came where asked if they took transit out. Not one of them had.
So TransLink: arrogant and unwilling to use their own product. Why should anyone else use it?