My free transit ride on B.C. Day didn't correspond to what I was hearing on the radio
Earlier today, I heard the usual anti-TransLink rants from Mike Smyth, who's filling in on CKNW Radio for the recently retired Bill Good.
Smyth and a CKNW staffer were listing some of the problems with today's free transit day.
I learned that the lot was empty at the park n' ride at Scott Road Station.
I also discovered that monthly passholders were upset that they didn't receive a discount after the SkyTrain had electrical problems last month.
The implication was that all anyone received was crappy free transit on B.C. Day when nobody works.
Smyth then chimed in with a chippy remark about the upcoming transit referendum.
At the risk of going against the grain, I'm here to say that I enjoyed my free bus ride downtown today. And it appeared that my fellow passengers on the Hastings bus also liked not having to stuff the farebox with coins.
Moreover, the driver was in a cheerful mood, welcoming everyone onboard knowing that he didn't have to ferret out any transit cheats.
I noticed an absence of vehicles on the road and arrived at my destination sooner than I expected.
This occurred even though the bus travelled down the normally gridlocked Seymour Street.
That made me wonder if there were fewer people driving because of free transit, which is good news for air quality.
That's because on hot days like this, sunlight bombards car exhaust, creating smoglike conditions. Fewer motor vehicles spells good news for kids with asthma.
On the bus, I thought about how Vancouver has made great strides in holding car-free days.
I then wondered if we could somehow engineer more free-transit days, particularly in the summer.
There's always going to be grumbling about transit, especially on radio stations that compete for listeners on the thoroughness of their traffic reports. Drivers have car radios; transit passengers don't.
TransLink is everyone's favourite punching bag, after all.
But today, I'd say that our regional transportation authority got it right, notwithstanding the bellyaching you might be hearing in other media outlets.
Wouldn't it be wonderful if we celebrated B.C. Day every year with free transit in the Lower Mainland?
I'm curious to know if it could be financed if the board decided that no TransLink executive would earn more than $200,000 per year and no Transit Police constable would earn more than $100,000 a year.
That's not an unreasonable demand, given that transit is a public service. Transit revenue on B.C. Day is probably pretty low to begin with.
If we had a TransLink board with local politicians, perhaps it could become an election issue.
But alas, the B.C. Liberals decided a long time ago to squeeze the democracy out of TransLink by removing local politicians from the board.
Of course, this means that free transit on B.C. Day is likely never to be repeated.
So enjoy it while it's available.