Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Tired of transit bashing

Last night I was at a friend’s birthday dinner and funny enough, the topic of TransLink came up at the table. It’s funny because I wasn’t the one to bring up the topic of transit in our region. One of the people at the dinner takes the West Coast Express into work from Langley and was talking about how she loves the service. Not surprisingly, she wanted to have more West Coast Express service and didn't understand why there wasn't more service. I had to speak up and say that more service costs more money, and that the real question we should be asking is how as a region can we pay for the transit service that we clearly need.

Another person at the table blamed TransLink for being bloated as the reason why we don't have better service. It’s interesting that he had that opinion because audit after audit of TransLink shows that it is a well-managed organization, but of course people don’t hear that.

I was talking to another person last week about TransLink. He told me that one of the problems is that there are local politicians that still talk about how TransLink is a poorly run organization, even though they know the fact speak differently. These politicians do a huge disservice to the region because they don’t bring any meaningful discussion around how to actually improve transit service.

Another challenge is that there are certain media outlets that publish and produce anti-transit opinion pieces that have little to do with fact, and more to do with an ideological opposition to transit. I guess they are hoping that if you tell a lie enough, it will become truth.

All this to say is that I’m not surprised that, even though the facts say that TransLink is a well-run origination, some people still believe it is wasteful.

It also still amazes me that even though some in the media and some local politicians have a field day bashing transit at every possibility, the vast majority of people in our region support improving transit, and paying for transit improvements with a combination of new taxes and users fees. That should speak volumes to the importance of public transit in Metro Vancouver.

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