West Coast Express Passes Change to Monthly

by Dave on August 1, 2013

Photo by Eric J, used under creative commons license.

Photo by Eric J, used under creative commons license.

It’s been so long since I wrote a blog entry that one might think I’m breaking some kind of silence with this post. I’ve written a lot of draft posts, but haven’t felt compelled to actually say anything. Part of it is that I’ve been busy with day-to-day life (job, home, etc.) and haven’t been compelled to write. Today though….

Dear Translink,

Firstly, congratulations. Per your recent media release, it looks like things are really picking up and it’s time to change incentives:

“We now move more than a million trips a day on our system,” says Paddon [Bob Paddon, TransLink’s executive vice president, strategic planning and public affairs]. “Our incentive programs did their job. In the interest of fairness and efficiency for the overall system, it’s now time to dial back on some of our discount programs.”

Great stuff. I love changing incentives for people when carrying capacities are being challenged. One definitely can’t keep incentivizing people as though exponential growth is the solution when, in fact, things just need to slow down. I don’t agree with the path, but I don’t manage the system.

I do, however, absolutely adore one piece of the system and cannot wait to get back on it when I move next month: The West Coast Express. There’s a subtle change in how this system is going to be billed for regular users: the 28-day pass is going to become a calendar-month pass. On one hand, that’s not so bad – people need to buy 12 passes instead of 13. Here’re my issues:

    1. The train is damn expensive. I don’t mind paying for it, but the 28-day pass allows me to book time off when I know my pass expires or be more flexible. If ridership is so high, why should riders pay for a month when either the 28-day or 7-day pass will do? Adjust prices if you need to, but leave our flexibility alone.
    2. Waiting in line. Waiting in line at the train absolutely sucks. Busses often arrive 30-90 seconds before the train leaves (despite being scheduled to arrive well before). Under the current system, everyone is buying non-daily tickets and passes on varied schedules and it keeps lines to a minimum. Under the new monthly system, it’s going to change all that and reduce the quality of the commute at certain times of the month.

These two prospects leave me incredibly frustrated. I understand dollars and cents, that’s my day-to-day job, but I really don’t understand why those can’t work while maintaining overall customer experience.


Updated: A friend reminded me of the new card that’s coming into effect for transit. That wasn’t covered in the release so I’ve no idea how it affects line-ups or the overall flexibility of the current system versus calendar passes.

  • Charles

    Great post Dave! I will miss my annual employer pass. More than the 15% savings it allows me to never have to line up for a fare pass of any sort for the entire transit system from Port Haney to Waterfront, YVR and everywhere in between.

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