Bring It On!
It seems the message is getting through and the recent pouts and threats from TransLink officials about drastic cuts to local transit services, if road pricing is not implemented, is falling on rather deaf ears, especially south of the Fraser River.
TransLink’s ponderous bureaucracy just cannot provide a decent transit service now, how can the taxpayer even think of giving this provincial version of a “black hole” any more monies with the same lot at the helm.
The problem with TransLink is simple; the management are not transit experts, rather accountants and have little knowledge of modern public transit practice. In short, transit is being provided like it was still the 1950′s because the books look good. We are now well it is the 21st century and until TransLink can adapt which, considering the management, can’t, a new and more vibrant South Fraser Transit Authority, maybe a reality.
It is time to say adios to TransLink and the North Fraser Mayors who sail in her and welcome a new SFTA, with duly elected members who can provide real local input and control.
From the Surrey Leader
Updated: August 01, 2013
Once again, south-of-the-Fraser transit users are being shafted by TransLink.
The transportation agency, not well-loved in Surrey or Delta, announced Tuesday that it is scrapping a number of pass and discount programs, claiming this makes the system “more equitable.” Among the programs cut are FareSaver tickets, the books of 10 tickets which have been well-utilized by many transit users from this area.
TransLink says the discount programs will be replaced by discounts that will be available with the new Compass Card system, to be introduced later this year.
The current discount programs end on Jan. 1, 2014. FareSaver ticket users have been getting a 21-per-cent discount in the past year, as the cost of fares rose while the FareSaver prices stayed the same. That discount will drop to 14 per cent with Compass Cards.
It sounds fair on the surface. But it doesn’t add up when the impact of the three-zone fare system is added to the mix.
Transit riders who get on the system in Surrey, Delta or Langley must pay for three-zone travel to get to Vancouver. This applies even if they get on SkyTrain at Scott Road Station, just across the Fraser from New Westminster.
The only other area of the region where three-zone fares apply is in the Tri-City and Maple Ridge/Pitt Meadows areas. It is not coincidental that all areas subject to three-zone fares have the worst transit service.
TransLink collects an inordinate amount of fare money per passenger in Surrey, Delta and other three-zone communities. Yet at the same time, it provides a level of service that is far below what is offered in Vancouver, New Westminster, Burnaby or Richmond.
The difference between a one-zone and three-zone fare is substantial. To ride the bus or SkyTrain within Vancouver, where service is most frequent, it costs a transit rider (without any discounts for student, senior or child) $2.75. The same rider in Surrey, travelling to the edge of Vancouver at Joyce or Renfrew stations on SkyTrain, pays $5.50.
Despite steady growth and a higher density in urban areas than Burnaby’s, transit service in Surrey is not being expanded.
There is still no express bus service for Surrey riders across the Port Mann Bridge, as promised as a condition of the Port Mann Bridge becoming a toll bridge.
And many bus users in Surrey frequently get passed by when waiting for a bus, and often wait up to half an hour to get on a bus at all.
This level of service and blatant discrimination against Surrey and Delta residents is completely unacceptable. People in this area are already contributing disproportionately to TransLink, through the higher fares, and being forced to buy more gas (and thus pay more gas tax). TransLink property taxes in this area are not discounted in any way, despite a lower level of service.
While a referendum on new sources of funding for TransLink is scheduled for some time early in 2014, Surrey, Delta and White Rock residents need to ask themselves if they want to continue paying disproportionately.
While few politicians even want to talk about it, we likely would be better off with our own regional transit system south of the Fraser, as long as it retains good links with the rest of the system.
Frank Bucholtz is the editor of The Langley Times. He writes weekly for The Leader.
Editor’s note: A spokesperson from TransLink responded to this column by pointing out that in December 2012, “TransLink launched the 555 Express Bus that runs between the Carvolth Transit Exchange on 202nd Street in Langley and Braid SkyTrain Station in New Westminster. This express bus was specifically designed to ride over the Port Mann Bridge.”
However, the bus does not stop in Surrey, despite an expensive 156 Street exit built to accommodate it, and therefore provides no express service to riders in Surrey.
And now a response from long time light rail advocate, Malcolm Johnston
TransLink is not for us
Published: August 07, 2013
The TransLink message is finally getting through.
TransLink does not benefit South-of-the-Fraser cities and municipalities, only those who live north of the Fraser River.
We have to remember, then-GVRD chair and soon-to-be TransLink chair, former Vancouver councillor George Puil, only inked the TransLink deal when the province promised to pay two-thirds of SkyTrain construction, west of Commercial Drive in Vancouver.
From the start, TransLink was only about Vancouver and how everyone else must pay for Vancouver’s grand metro schemes.
Fast forward to 2013: TransLink now hovers near bankruptcy, demanding massive new tax hikes and user fees to fund SkyTrain subway construction in Vancouver, not caring a wit about transit, nor transit customers, in Surrey, Delta, and Langley.
A South Fraser transportation authority, made up of people directly elected to the board, would add some democracy and desperately needed fresh thinking, to the organization.
A separate South Fraser transit authority would add some much-needed competition to transit planning and show the ossified central command at TransLink that there are cheaper and just as efficient ways in moving people.
A good example is the Leewood/Rail for the Valley interurban plan, which shows that a Vancouver and Richmond to Chilliwack interurban route could be put into operation for less than $1 billion; not bad when one considers the 11-kilometre Evergreen SkyTrain costs over $1.4 billion.
The time has come to talk about Surrey and the rest of the South Fraser municipalities leaving Vancouver’s sphere of influence and plan for transit that best benefits transit customers on our side of the Fraser. We have grown up.