Right now there isn’t a lot of love for TransLink in the South of Fraser. Some people want to throw out TransLink and are actively campaigning to tear it apart. This is short-sighted and not best for the people in our region over the long-term. I was reminded yesterday at how good our system really is when a friend from Scotland came over to visit this long weekend.
The first thing he noticed was how efficient our rapid transit system was and how easy it was to use. For those people that haven’t used transit outside of BC, most cities have multiply transit operators that lead to confusion and duplication of service. In Scotland, they have “privatized” public transit so that popular routes have multiply operators running bus service and the less popular routes have to be subsidized by the government. The fares are even different for each bus that you take. I spend a good 5 minutes explaining to my friend that yes, you can use the same ticket on the train and the bus. That blew him away. I also explained that you can use your ticket anywhere in the system for 1.5 hours. He didn’t believe me. Our unified fare system is so good that the New York Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan called it the “golden ticket” and was envious of our integrated transit system. Let me repeat, the New York Transportation Commissioner was envious of our system. My friend was also surprised that I could take a bus for $5.00 from Langley to Downtown Vancouver. Apparently that is dirt cheap. The icing on the cake for him was that I could text for the next bus arrival time.
When you live in a region, you can always find the warts with your system. Sometimes it takes outside eyes to remind you that things really aren’t as bad as they seem. While TransLink has some issues that need to be fixed around funding and accountability, it would be a misstep to split our region along the lines of the Fraser River like we lived in the dark ages. Geographically and economically were are one region, it just seems that some politicians and lobbyists haven’t figured that our yet.