A long list of public transit gripes in a so-called world-class city
Today I was asked over Twitter what my complaints are about Vancouver transit. (Context: Petition calls for TransLink to scrap plans for “double transit fee” on cash purchases.)
As a person who's been riding this shit-tastic system for seven years, here's a list in no particular order:
- TransLink's new fare-gate system will never pay for itself. One of its original selling points was a claim it's a necessary measure to stop fare evasion. Only four percent of fares are evaded, which is, at best, a $10 million per year savings. The cost of maintaining this new system is estimated at $15 million per year, which means it will never pay for itself.
- The initial cost of the fare-gate system? $171 million.
- TransLink never pays for itself. In 2011, the company generated $1.42 billion in revenue but spent $1.43 billion.
- Under TransLink's new Compass system, if you purchase a fare for the bus with cash, you will not be able to use your transfer on the SkyTrain. TransLink spokesman Derek Zabel has said that to upgrade buses to be Compass-compatible would cost $25 million, so they didn't bother doing it. Zabel also says this will affect "only" 6,000 customers a day. Only? Good to know those 6,000 passengers—who are worth a minimum of $16,500 a day—aren't important to the corporation.
- The Compass card costs $6. TransLink claims this is a refundable deposit, but if you are a regular rider, you will always need your card, so that $6 is a cost.
- TransLink keeps cutting transit services while jacking up prices.
- TransLink scrapped the employee pass system, which offered a 15 percent discount to riders who committed to buying a year's worth of passes.
- TransLink's new system eliminated the rule that if you bought a monthly pass, you could have family members ride with you for free on Sundays.
- As of January 1, 2014, you will no longer be able to purchase seven- or 28-day passes for the West Coast Express.
- The up escalator at the Commercial-Broadway SkyTrain station has been inoperative since May 6.
- TransLink CEO Ian Jarvis was paid $382,954 in 2011.
- It is pretty much impossible to get around some parts of East Vancouver after 10 p.m. at night. This means people often have to walk very far distances in the dark. I once walked five kilometres home because I was stranded and couldn't afford a cab. This is not safe.
- The SkyTrain doesn't run 24 hours a day.
- The SkyTrain breaks down all the time, leaving commuters stranded and frustrated.
- THE FUCKING 99 B-LINE. It's overcrowded, it doesn't run frequently enough. It's almost tolerable in the summer, but as soon as the students go back to school, you can easily end up waiting for half a dozen buses to pass you up—and have ample time for an angry cry—before you can cram yourself on to one.
- The 20 Victoria. What the hell is wrong with this bus? You sit for half an hour, no bus. Then three or four show up at once. Poor planning.
- Did you know we're having a referendum on transit funding next year and no one knows what questions will be asked or how much funding will be sought, not even the Mayors’ Council on Regional Transportation?
And keep in mind, these are the complaints that immediately spring to mind.
So let's call this what it really is: this is a war on the poor. The people who most often use coins on the bus are the poor; by not allowing them to use their transfer for the SkyTrain—you'd have to pay twice to ride, or buy rent a Compass pass—you are penalizing the poor.
If you evade your fare—possibly because you are too poor to afford to pay—you get a $173 ticket. If you don't pay that back within six months, that goes up $60. If you don't pay with a year, it goes up another $40, gets sent to collections, and you are unable to renew your license or purchase vehicle insurance. Does it really sound fair to penalize someone who can't afford a $2.75 fare that much?
Here's my suggestion:
EDIT: To be clear, I'm suggesting a fare strike, not a strike on riding. My apologies if that was unclear.
What's your complaint? Leave it in the comments below.