For the Georgia Straight’s 18th annual Best of Vancouver issue, our editorial team has spent months on the lookout for good deeds, weird urban details, and various howlers to highlight. Here’s our contributors’ picks for Best of Vancouver 2013.
Best place to survive a zombie apocalypse
Farmhouse? Shopping mall? Prison? All have their merits, but each also has too many points of entry. When the dead rise, there’s only one local venue that will be practically impregnable: a B.C. Ferries vessel. Think about it: once you’ve cast off, no zombies can get on, you’ve got plenty of room, a gift shop full of books and magazines, and a galley full of Triple-O burgers. And if you can nab one of their coastal-class ships, you’ll be living in luxury. Of course, operating a ferry is a little more involved than your standard outboard, but at least the coast guard won’t be hassling you for a boating licence.
Best place to give your calves a workout
Remember the days when the ascending (and extra-long) escalator at the Broadway and Commercial SkyTrain station actually worked? Us neither. With the parts reportedly on order for the past several months and the likelihood of sprouting wings growing increasingly unlikely, your only other options are the stairs and the elevator. On the plus side, if you use this station with any regularity, there’s a great chance you’ll end up with killer calves by the time the parts actually do arrive.
Best free entertainment, courtesy of TransLink
The 100-metre bus sprint
Watching frantic commuters run for a bus in the morning is easily the most entertaining spectator sport since karaoke came to Vancouver’s shores. The best racetrack is at the Broadway-Commercial Skytrain station, where cranky suburbanites sprint from the Millennium and Expo lines to the overstuffed 99 B-Line bus. In fact, the only reason we’re excited about the addition of the Compass-card fare gates to SkyTrain stations is that our beloved sprints may soon turn into a hurdling event.
Best reason to grumble about public transit
TransLink’s highest-paid employees enjoyed a round of pay increases for the third year in a row, the organization’s latest financial statements show. CEO Ian Jarvis’s salary rose from $382,954 in 2011 to $394,730 in 2012. Chief operating officer Doug Kelsey also enjoyed a raise, from $329,936 to $336,729. Seven other executives collected more than $200,000 in annual compensation in 2012. The pay increases came as TransLink cut customers’ discount programs such as FareSavers. But hey, don’t let it ruin your next ride. These pay packs are nothing compared to what the B.C. Ferries board is forking over to its executives to run another transportation monopoly.
Best reason to buy a bike
In the summer of 2013, TransLink announced it was eliminating a number of programs offering riders discounted fares. Effective January 1, 2014, the transit authority will no longer allow immediate relatives to all travel on one monthly pass on Sundays and holidays. The Employer Pass Program is also being discontinued. Similarly, FareSaver booklets are going away. Replacing those forms of payment is the Compass system. The new Compass cards will require a $6 “deposit”. Fares paid with those cards will be at a discount, but not one as great as any of the programs TransLink is eliminating.
Best business-card title lifted from Star Trek
TransLink’s vice president of “enterprise initiatives”, a post currently held by Mike Madill, was paid more than $200,000 in 2012 for the duties he performed under that designation.
Best award-winning attempt to spin a price hike
When TransLink announced that it was replacing discount-fare programs with the Compass card system, spokespeople stressed that transit prices would remain the same. True, the rates of cash-paid fares haven’t changed, but the discounts offered through various programs have been reduced across the board. “We’re not raising prices,” TransLink’s Mike Madill told the Straight. “We’re just ending some discount programs.” The Straight hereby bestows upon Madill our inaugural Jacques Le Blanc award. (Le Blanc was the French ambassador to New Zealand who said in 1995, regarding protests over France’s South Pacific nuclear tests: “I do not like this word bomb. It is not a bomb; it is a device which is exploding.”)