Obligatory rant on why I hate TransLink
By Jessica Berget, Staff Writer
In the Metro Vancouver area, it’s not an unpopular opinion that the city’s transit system, quite frankly, sucks. Don’t get me wrong, no public transportation system is perfect—they all have their flaws. I’ll even admit TransLink does manage to get some things right. It serves its purpose by getting me to where I need to go (for the most part), but there are enough things wrong with the system that I can understand the hate most people have for it.
The recent development plans for a new Light Rail Transit system (LTR) have some people rightfully angry with TransLink. The system will have slower speeds, higher operating costs, and lower frequency, and it will wreak havoc on the environment. This is not the first time people of the Lower Mainland has been frustrated with TransLink, nor will it be the last.
Just a couple years ago, TransLink was in the hot seat because of its proposed 0.5 per cent tax increase to help fund major infrastructure projects. The tax increase was voted against in a plebiscite, since people decided TransLink has enough money to fund their own projects. Doug Allen, the current CEO of TransLink, attested that the no vote was due to the raise in taxes, and not aimed against TransLink itself, but he was sorely mistaken.
The former CEO of TransLink, Ian Jarvis, received $425,000 in salary and another $97,000 in bonuses, according to CTV News. This was a major factor during the vote of their proposed tax, and understandably so. If TransLink is as broke as they say they are, why are taxpayers so grossly overpaying their highest ranking employees?
The first complaint everyone has against TransLink’s system is their inconsistency. Buses usually show up late, early, or sometimes not at all. I can understand lateness. Sometimes traffic is slow and there is nothing you can do about it. But when the bus shows up five minutes earlier than the schedule says it will and I see it zoom past me while I’m walking towards my bus stop, I lose my mind. Even more annoying than that is when the bus doesn’t show up at all with no explanation. Often this is someone’s only bus to get them to work, school, or home, and when some buses only run every 30–60 minutes, this can really ruin someone’s day.
Another common complaint with transit-users is the ticketing system. When you buy a ticket on the bus, you will still have to buy a compass ticket to get onto the SkyTrain if you use change instead if tapping in, which doesn’t just seem like a cash grab, but it’s a huge waste of everyone’s time and money as well. Why not save the extra stress and give them a bus and SkyTrain ticket when they pay for one or the other? Get it together, TransLink.
I have a personal vendetta against the bus system, especially because of the occasional rude and obnoxious driver. “Wake up, you piece of shit!” I heard a bus driver yell at one sleeping passenger at 10 a.m. on a Monday morning. This abuse was apparently justified, because the man did not pay his $2.75 fare and was riding for free. I understood the bus driver’s anger and frustration; it was one of the days that snow had been plaguing the city, and there was a car stuck in front of the bus so it couldn’t move. However, is shouting abuse at a passenger for any reason really justifiable? I don’t know TransLink’s policy on giving out free rides, but I am sure it does not support yelling at passengers. It’s just $2.75. Does giving people a free ride cost you any money, or cause you any pain or suffering? No. It costs exactly $0 to be a decent human being. Sometimes people just don’t have change for the bus, or—like the common experience of almost all college students—their U-Pass hasn’t updated yet. Even I have been yelled at and asked to hand over all of my change for this very reason.
I can’t say I understand how frustrating being a bus driver is, as it looks like a difficult job. I am not saying it’s easy, or that I can do any better, but there is something to be said about bus drivers who abuse their powers and their passengers. The $2.75 should never be a reason to disrespect someone, or to refuse them a ride home. Sometimes it’s their only way to get home, or it’s the last bus of the night. I’ve also seen some bus drivers drive right past bus stops with people waiting, sometimes late at night. If this is the last bus of the night, and they don’t have another way home, this can put people in actual danger.
Vancouver is said to have one of the best transit systems in the world, but ask anyone who takes the bus and you will find that this is not the general consensus. TransLink may not be the worst public transportation system around, but it definitely has its flaws. The inconsistent bus times, the bus fares, the way TransLink spends its money, and the rude drivers are sure to keep people hating our cursed public transportation system.