Monday, March 30, 2015

TransLink fights back with the facts

The Canadian Taxpayers Federation has been waging a full-out assault against TransLink’s reputation for the last four years. The CTF has used a blend of selected facts, and in at least two cases being straight-up dishonest, in a bid to smear TransLink. By releasing a slow, but steady stream of sensational press releases, the CTF has been successful in convincing the region that we have one of the worst transit systems in North America. Of course, this couldn’t be further from the truth.

TransLink is kind of nerdy. It is interested in running a transit system, planning Metro Vancouver’s transportation network, and funding bridges, roads and bike lanes. Focusing on its self-imagine has not been a priority.

Like any nerd, TransLink gives you six ways from Sunday to find out when the next bus will come, get reports on all sort of geeky transportation stuff, and discover a cornucopia stats. It’s also pretty good at responding to customer complaints. TransLink’s weakness is that it has done a poor job of presenting itself to the media, and by proxy, the people of Metro Vancouver.

When Paul Hillsdon and I released our Leap Ahead transit plan in the fall of 2013, we got a phone call from the folks at TransLink. They wanted to meet with us, and we agreed to meet with them. We talked about all sorts of things. At some point in the conversation, I asked why TransLink wasn’t doing more to counter the negative messaging being put out by the CTF. I was told that TransLink would “take their lumps”, but would essentially just focus on delivering world-class transit service.

You have to stand-up to bullies. Unfortunately, it took TransLink until midway through this plebiscite to stand-ups for itself.

Last week, TransLink launched a “The Facts Matter” information campaign to help set the record straight about the agency.

Select facts from TransLink's new information campaign. Select image to enlarge.

While this information campaign won't likely impact the outcome of the transit and transportation plebiscite, if TransLink keeps presenting the facts to the public, it will help people form an opinion of the agency that it ground in facts.

I’m happy that TransLink is finally standing-up for itself, I just wish it would have been a bit sooner.

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