Advance View: Compass card still off kilter

 

The Compass Card system is facing another delay, another technical glitch. TransLink is working on it, of course. TransLink has been working on perfecting their not-quite-ready-for-prime-time system for well over a year. In fact, the Compass Card system was a year overdue as of this past summer. The cards have difficulty “tapping out” of buses, which could mean being charged for a three-zone ride after taking the bus a mere mile.

Those on the outskirts of Metro Vancouver – in the Langleys, in Maple Ridge, Pitt Meadows, and parts of Surrey and White Rock – can only watch this mess and feel an extra degree of bitterness. We’ve been paying more than our fair share for years. And while we can’t expect transit service to every rural property, now that parts of our communities are booming, we should have had big increases. Nope.

At the province’s behest, money has been poured into fare gates for SkyTrain (which does not reach us) and on a card system that seems to be broken, while new bus routes are few and far between. There is no new money, we are told again and again. Meanwhile, the population here grows and grows, and our needs expand, and the buses do not come.

There could have been a referendum on TransLink funding as of this Nov. 15, with the civic elections. That was pushed off to 2015, too. We still don’t know what the question will be for this future vote. 

Meanwhile, the vote only serves to distract attention from the fact that the province has no interest whatsoever in helping put more people on buses. TransLink, for all its real and perceived faults, cannot raise more money without Victoria giving it new powers, or without raising property taxes, a move no one particularly wants.

So here we sit, winter coming in, the days getting darker, the weather wetter. And all the transit users and would-be transit users have to stand and fume, like people stuck in the rain waiting for a bus that’s always late.

-M.C.

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