More Transit Fares for More People

TransLink has done it again: they’ve raised fares for the fourth time in less than 8 years. This time across the board (passes and tickets, too). Oh joy.

That’s a 40% increase at the farebox; the ever-helpful Bank of Canada tells me that inflation over this period has been less than 16%, meaning fares have gone up 2 and half times faster than everything else. Since the last fare increase in 2005, inflation has been less than 4%, but this latest fare increase is 10% (2 and half times more again). Not quite what TransLink wrote back in May: “transit fare revenue increase of six per cent is proposed, representing general inflation over the 2005-2007 period.”

But of course, it’s worth it, right? No pain, no gain. Wrong.

To justify the fare increase in 2000, we were promised 500 new buses.

To justify the fare increase in 2002, we were promised 400 new buses.

The only new buses that have come since any of the fare increases in 2000, 2002, and 2005 are replacement buses that were needed 10 years ago.

This time, TransLink heralds the largest bus expansion in 31 years (better sit down for this one): 90 buses. That’s not even 10% of what we have already and a far cry from those earlier promises.

It fits the trend though; each time they promise less and deliver the same: nothing.

That would all be bad enough, but now TransLink is trying to brainwash us into thinking that Transit Service equals Fares. Want more Service? Pay more Fares. Want Peace? Go to War. Want freedom? Give up your Rights. TransLink is spinning with the best.

Let’s look at a few of the details of their latest missive, titled: More Transit Service for More People.

Read: More Transit Lies for More People.

Let’s start with the obvious: “Since the last fare increase in 2005, TransLink has significantly expanded and modernized its bus fleet.” Hello? The only “bus” fleet that has expanded is the Community Shuttles, aka minibuses, whose drivers get less pay and benefits than regular bus operators. Aha.

The “modernized” part of that lie, I mean advertisement (same thing), above must refer to the new trolleys, which were supposed to go into service in 2001. These long awaited trolleys are so modern that they can’t take bikes in their racks after dark! But they do have signs that can say “Sorry, Bus Full.” Now that’s More Transit Service.

The specific new promises (34 new SpyTrain cars and a 3rd Seabus) won’t be fulfilled until 2009 (don’t hold your breath), but the fares go up now. Nice.

But wait! There’s more…we will get “continued expansion and modernization of the bus fleet” and “new routes and more frequent service.” Gee, how will that be measured? And why would we believe it?

The one promise made that you can bet on is that fares will go up again within 3 years. If the current TransLink management remains, they may break this one, too…in order to raise them sooner.

Too bad they didn’t use the money spent on this propaganda to buy the new buses that they keep promising and not delivering; I’d guess this latest bit of propaganda is worth at least one and maybe even 3 or 4 new buses more.

So what to do, what to do?

If you’re a parent in the ‘burbs, I bet you’re not going to bring your 3 kids with you into the City by bus. That would put you back at least $30; gas still doesn’t cost that much and there is lots of free parking to be had.

If you’re a commuter, or “regular customer” in TransLink-talk, maybe you have the resources to stock up on “FareSaver” tickets or you buy a FareCard. Or maybe it’s just cheaper and easier to drive. Only 10% of commuters before the fare increase would have disagreed. How many more will be driving in 2008?

Okay, before the doom and gloom sets in, let’s get to some action plans to lift our spirits…

1. write a letter, if you haven’t already. I’m sure this will make a big difference in the fares imposed by TransLink.
2. attend a TransLink Board meeting. Oops, sorry, these have been privatized by Kevin Falcon and TransLink’s CEO Pat Jacobson (you know, the woman who created Canada’s first private highway for Ontario’s version of BC’s Liberals). But hey, weren’t those old meetings fun! The Chair was always so friendly and encouraged everyone attending to share her/his thoughts with them.
3. write a blog entry. I recommend this especially for any parents reading this. Not only will this make you feel much better but it will make it look like you are doing something…so that when your child looks you in the eye just before the planet dies, you can say you…wrote a blog…
4. write a letter…oh wait, we did that already.
4. write a series about Fare-Free Transit to show how easy it can be and how evil fares are. That will show TransLink!

I guess that’s it for law abiding, good people like us. Oh wait, we can talk about the issue with all our friends and family…yeah, that’s number 5. And my personal favourite:

6. Vote next November for transit-friendly politicians. Unlike when they governed TransLink during the last 4 fare increase, they won’t have any influence over TransLink’s policy or staff. But you voted for a change! Well done.

Unfortunately, most that can, will probably opt for number 7: drive a car. And who could blame them if the planet wasn’t burning?

Of course, blogs like these aren’t read by only good and nice people like us. Which means, of course, there’s hope…so here’s a list for those “other” folks:

1. Stop paying fares. Why pay for something that we own and already paid for with taxes and rent and hydro bills and gas taxes. Of course, drivers gotta do their job, which is drive the bus and inform you of the fare. But remember, the driver is a working stiff like most of us, so do give a smile and a hello/thanks. It makes all the difference. In short: don’t just dream about it, be the Fare-Free Transit system you desire!
2. Share your transfers/tickets, if you have one. Despite TransLink’s propaganda that tries to scare people into unlearning decent, common behaviour, it is NOT a crime to share. Even with strangers.
3. Get a ticket from the only Transit Police in the country (with the only Police board that has cops) and challenge it in court. Hey, “those” folks are often rich and the rich write the rules. Besides, “Fare-Paid Zones” are public property paid for by you and me. Sharing is as human as breathing. Taking transit is good communal behaviour, not a crime! Or is it driving alone in a noisy, polluting, greenhouse gas emitting, one tonne killing machine? I can never remember…

Speaking of killing machines, all of the guns and tasers and cars and uniforms and salaries for the only Transit Police in the country, could have bought 40 new buses by now.

That’s new buses, as in an expanded fleet, not empty promises.

i Viva la farestrike !