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Watts steps down as TransLink chair

February 3rd, 2010 · 8 Comments

Well THIS is an interesting development, reported by Jeff Nagel.

Categories: Uncategorized

  • Zweisystem

    Could it be that Ms. Watts wants to take a run at being Premier when and if Gordo steps down and she doesn’t want to be burdened with the “TransLink” sinking ship.

  • Mr Clean

    Who in damnation is Watts? Is he the fellow who use to drop acid a few years back?

  • Michael Phillips

    Translink is a gong-show. The Board of Directors acts as though they can’t make ends meet because of their costly mandate, yet their bus drivers Never keep someone off the bus who doesn’t have a ticket, and transit police Never ask people on the bus for their tickets. Most of the time the bus driver won’t even look in your direction when you get on. About half the time when I get on the bus at its first stop the bus driver is outside the bus having a smoke with the doors open. On the 20 up and down Commercial, the driver will just open all the doors at the Broadway stop at the same time so people can just hop in the back. It’s a farce.

    But it isn’t the drivers’ fault, I don’t believe they even have the authority to keep people off the bus, or to keep from driving, when someone hasn’t paid. It’s the Directors’ fault for having such asinine policies.

    Common sense before expertise: don’t cry for more funding or higher ticket prices until you muster the fortitude to actually charge the current ticket price to the people using your service.

    If Translink’s Directors actually used public transit they might know that the top two ways of shoring up revenues are:

    1) Install Skytrain turnstiles finally. This has already been announced but I’m not sure if it’s to be believed since it was also announced in 2007, and has been discussed for years earlier. You bring all these bright minds together, and all the regions Mayors, and they still won’t decisively maintain that at a minimum 3% fare-cheat rate, turnstiles easily pay for themselves. Amazing.

    2) Require bus drivers to refuse to drive a bus if any individual hasn’t paid and refuses to get off. If they won’t get off then the driver calls the transit police, or if the transit police don’t have the transportation abilities to get to a bus quickly (brilliant system) call the real police, because theft of a service is theft. Free-riders will learn quickly that the bus won’t move if they don’t pay, thus eliminating the “ride” element of free-riding, and soon you’ll rarely have to use this policy.

    Yes, if bus drivers get tough with free-riders, the free-riders will get mad and maybe you’ll have fractionally more assaults on bus drivers. But it’s fundamental that we need to charge people for riding transit, we can’t be so mushy that we just let skids ride free because if we ask them to pay they might get mad.

    However, the ultimate problem is that the Greater Vancouver Transportation Authority Act a) mandates a Director selection process that’s so convoluted you might as well just use a Ouija board and b) buffers the Directors from any real consequence should they happen to be lousy at running a transportation network.

    I’ve never found a business or government organization designed to be as insulated from responsibility as Translink. They can’t keep their finances straight because they don’t have to.

  • Andrea C.

    M. Phillips:
    If you had your way, a bus wouldn’t move an inch until every passenger has paid up every last penny of the (not insignificant) fare. Unless someone on board is willing to resort to vigilante action (I’m guessing a not-so-secret fantasy of yours), that could be a hell of a wait for the cops. After all, who cares if the rest of the paying public is inconvenienced or worse? They’re just pawns in your master plan to punish the free-loaders.
    You obviously do not rely on public transit as your primary means of transportation, and I doubt you would ever use it if you needed to be on time for anything.

  • Andrea C.

    Sorry my above post was off topic. Zweisystem, I wouldn’t be surprised a bit, but she could be bailing because it’s necessary to ensure any kind of a political future (beyond Surrey). Also: isn’t it amusing when posters who have lost their way to the Vancouver skyscraper forum find their way onto here and start up a rant?

  • mezzanine

    @ Andrea C, I take the skytrain and bus regularly. I always pay my fare. And I do find it frustrating when someone doesn’t pay.

    The fare is set for a reason – to provide funding for our transit system. Fare evasion is low, but let’s keep it low – don’t rationalize shirking the fare.

    Drivers are not supposed to enforce fare collection and I can agree with that. But I have seen drivers refuse to move until the non-payee leaves – usually the person raises the ire of the whole bus and leaves after 2 minutes. For me i see it once or twice a year, always mid-day on a smaller neighbourhood bus, sometimes on the #19 or #9.

  • Mayor Watts is obviously frustrated with the challenges of Translink, but I do believe her when she talks about wanting more time to focus on the new Surrey City Centre development and other important local economic and planning initiatives.

    I know first hand about some of her interests since I serve on her Economic Strategy Advisory Board, and her Surrey City Development Corporation Board, and she certainly takes those two responsibilities very seriously.

    Now as for Translink, I agree we should have turnstiles and ‘smart cards’ like they have in Seattle, London, Hong Kong, Singapore and many other places, that charge fares based on the length of trip.

    I am also getting tired of people who complain about our poor transit system and then have no problem excusing those who don’t pay to use the system.

  • “I am also getting tired of people who complain about our poor transit system”

    I know this is sacrilege, but the transit system actually isn’t too bad. More trips to reduce crowding would be great, but for the most part getting around C of V and the surrounding areas is fast and convenient if you plan your trip and check the schedule. Most passengers are relatively polite and friendly (esp. compared to the incivility of some car drivers) and the bus drivers are generally professional and courteous.

    It may be my particular circumstances, but generally I can find a bus that takes me where I need to go, when I need to get there, at a cost that makes car ownership look like financial stupidity. It seems to me that the best way to improve transit is by making the choice to use it, and providing Translink with the ridership and business case to further improve it, esp. w/r/t to the suburbs. Unfortunately expecting to be able to live the all-too-common over-scheduled life isn’t possible without a car. I would suggest our biggest problems with transit are our expectations with what is reasonable and affordable in the long term, esp. in the context of sustainability and non-renewable energy resources.