TransLink’s public-feedback efforts fall short: White Rock mayor

Online survey sees 800 per cent increase in White Rock/South Surrey response, transit officials say.

TransLink has proposed eight changes to bus routes in White Rock/South Surrey.

White Rock Mayor Wayne Baldwin is calling on TransLink “to do more” with regards to engaging the community on proposed transit changes announced earlier this month.

During his mayor’s report at council Monday evening, Baldwin said he has requested that staff reach out to TransLink, noting a booth at an unrelated city-hosted open house last night (Thursday, after Peace Arch News’ deadline) was not enough.

“As far as community consultation goes, in my books, a session tagging onto a Development Cost Charge session really doesn’t do justice to the residents and the process of trying to get some feedback from them on TransLink changes,” Baldwin said.

“I’d like to see them, in view of the fact they take several million bucks from us each year, do a bit more in that respect.”

TransLink media spokesperson Cheryl Ziola confirmed via email that besides this week’s booth at the DCC meeting, the public’s only other opportunity to provide feedback is through an online survey.

When asked for a response to Baldwin’s call for increased engagement, Ziola said staff were working with the city to “identify potential opportunities” to reach out to residents.

“Our experience is that we can reach more customers if we build on scheduled and heavily promoted community events, rather than set up a stand-alone event,” Ziola said. “But we can always do better and are always open to new ideas and ways to reach our customers and stakeholders.”

Ziola said they have received “exceptional participation” in the online survey, including 3,770 responses south of the Fraser, and based on rough averages, TransLink is seeing an approximately 800 per cent increase in public feedback from White Rock and South Surrey.

Council first learned of the proposed service changes – eight in total for White Rock/South Surrey, involving the 351, 352, 354, C50, C51, C52 and C53 – at the Oct. 5 council meeting that included a presentation from TransLink representatives.

Several members of council spoke out about the poor transit service in White Rock – and the high demand for the community’s aging population – with Baldwin saying the city’s service was “crummy” compared to how much funding White Rock provided TransLink annually.

Responding to an inquiry from Coun. David Chesney about what engagement TransLink had planned, Daniel Freeman, manager of transit network management, said staff were planning to reach out to community groups with the hopes of getting the word out about the proposed changes.

He also said they were planning to “have staff out at a few key locations” to engage with riders face-to-face, although, at the time, Freeman said dates had not been finalized.

City manager Dan Bottrill told PAN Wednesday that he was told by TransLink’s vice-president of transportation planning and policy Tim Savoie – who also spoke at the Oct. 5 meeting – that there were no further plans for engagement beyond Thursday’s booth and the online survey.

“We’re going to continue to encourage our community partners, including TransLink. We want to make sure our community is engaged properly,” Bottrill said.

The survey can be found at www.translink.ca/tnc, then  select “White Rock-South Surrey”.

 

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