Sunday, June 3, 2012

TransLink Wellness-Hub - You Can't Bleed a Stone - A Measured Response is Required

Honourable Blair Lekstrom
Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure 

Province of British Columbia
Dear Mr. Lekstrom,

Congratulations on successfully creating legislation that educates fare-evaders that there will now be consequences for their in-actions (of not purchasing transit fares and receiving a fine), at least for those who can afford to pay (both fares & fines), and deliver much needed funding to TransLink.

BUT, what about people who can not afford to pay fines (or even fares for that matter, which got them into trouble in the first place), people who are too poor (possibly on welfare), drug-addicted or mentally-ill, for example ?  
- PENALTIES (sticks) such as tickets and fines do not work on them... nor does going to court or even jail, which they consider a holiday anyway (free room & board) with access to as many drugs as they can handle (and a cost to taxpayers of at least $100k per year, per inmate).

Don't pick on the poor - show compassion - along with - Tough Love - (when necessary) instead.
- Help them help themselves and save a bundle in the process.
- For people like this, a different approach is needed, especially for those who have enough dignity and self-respect that they are willing to try to turn their lives around.
- A better approach would be to offer them REWARDS (carrots) such as incentives in order to rehabilitate them so they can become contributing members of society rather than a drain on society.
- Essentially, it is a process of negotiation and rehabilitation, leading to better behaviour...
- - With a - measured - use of both stick (penalties) if necessary, and carrot (rewards) preferably...

This is where the - magic - of the TransLink Wellness-Hub comes in -
- The "Silver Bullet" -
 - Scientifically-Proven, Incentive-Based, Smartcard-Enabled - Salvation through Wellness.
  - - See my proposal at -
  - - And campaign at -

I also agree that the idea to - ban - fare-evaders from using transit (or at least having this option available as a tool in the toolkit) is a good idea. Thanks to the aftermath of the Stanley Cup riots people now understand that photos of them can be used to identify them and pursue them (aggressively if necessary).

Working in the security field has educated me to the fact that thieves at liquor stores (for example) are not afraid of fines (or even jail), what they are really afraid of is being - banned - from liquor stores...

The first - reward - of course should therefore be that repeat fare-evaders (or people who say they can not afford to pay to use the system) be - allowed - to use the system if they enroll in a wellness (rehab) program that will enable them to earn rewards (such as "TransLink Dollars") for example, deposited directly onto their Smartcards which they can use to ride the system.
- Improving themselves further (beyond a penalty for fare-evasion) and helping others, could earn them additional rewards (TransLink Dollars) that could then be used for things other than Transit.
- Part of their rehab could include volunteer community service type work so that they would acquire the skills to become employable and once employed further become (normal fare-paying) contributing members of society.  
- Essentially creating a "hand-up" not a "hand-out" and ultimately avoiding possible - "hold-up".

100% Fare Compliance ? Is that possible ? Based on TransLink estimates the system is already running at 96% Fare Compliance, so we are only 4% away from 100% compliance.
- Many of the 4%'ers are repeat offenders, even chronic offenders in some cases and are well known to Transit Police who have already written (many) tickets for them, which has no effect on them and they simply throw them away.
- If these people could be given a choice to either get on a rehab (wellness) program or be banned from using transit, then we will have a chance to close that gap and have a system that is truly 100% Compliant. 
 - As well as (of course) help solve many other (criminal related) problems in the process.

TIME vs MONEY - People with more money than time would prefer to pay their fines using money... but people with more time than money (and not able to pay their fines) should be given a choice... to pay via volunteering (community service) and be rewarded for going beyond the penalty - or - not use the system.

I am not a fan of Faregates as I believe their cost and ongoing maintenance will undo their cost-savings (through a reduction in fare-evasion) and they will simply not work on the 4%ers as these people will simply “Hump” (or Piggyback) their way onto the system behind others (as they do in other cities using faregates), therefore defeating the whole intent in the first place.
- A better (less-costly) option would be to simply offer REWARDS to - ALL - transit users in the form of free transit (& other rewards such as TransLink Dollars) via randomly assigning rewards onto their Smartcards so that every time a person uses transit (and therefore their Smartcard) they will have a chance to win (free transit & other goodies).
- Taking transit would be instantly transformed from a cumbersome activity (for many) to a LOTTERY... and depending on the rewards could be quite exciting... to the point that it could even get more people using transit instead of their cars...
- Who would not want to use and pay for transit given a chance to win a reward ?

Kevin Falcon (when Minister of Health) replied to an email I sent him regarding my TransLink Wellness-Hub Proposal, and although he liked the idea was concerned about the administration that would be involved.
- Now hopefully, with the administration he has had to endure as Minister of Finance in returning the Province back to the PST from the HST (I actually voted to keep the HST), especially through the use of computers for example, is proof that the government is capable of advanced administration.
- But, of course, the government would not even need to do this anyway as private companies and nonprofit organizations which already have experience running similar programs, could help out.

Transit - Road (or congestion) Pricing - is the way to go !  
- Like in other cities, and the public understands this (intuitively)... those who use the roads (& bridges) should pay for them.
- Those who reduce congestion on the roads (such as cyclists and transit users) should be rewarded.
- This is really simple, nothing hard to understand here...  and the “business-minded” TransLink Board (I believe) understands this too...

Health - The philosophy of penalty & reward works for health as well... except that we would not want to penalize people for having bad health (as it may not be their fault as it may relate to genetics or their environment etc.). However, we can - reward - people for improving their health (and therefore reduce healthcare costs in the process).

Crime - Furthermore - This philosophy also works for crime (such as in fare-evasion) as well as healthy people are typically happy people able to achieve goals and solve problems without resorting to crime.

Education & Self Improvement - This philosophy (of course) also holds for education and self-improvement as healthy happy people usually want to get ahead in life (which like good health and unclogged roads would be an additional reward in itself).

These are all behavioral issues that can be solved through wellness.
- Fund Public Transit through cost-savings in Healthcare & Crimecare - Funding for Public Transit can be found by facilitating cost-savings in Healthcare & Crimecare - using transit, wellness - and rewards.

Natural Resources vs Human Resources - Like most people I am happy that the Province is making gains in selling its Natural Resources, and earning the royalties that go with them. Unfortunately, the Natural Resources sector does not create that many jobs, especially compared to the Service Sector (even including the ripple-effect).
- More needs to be done to promote our Human (People) Resources (& their abilities) not just our Natural Resources.   
- Turning Vancouver & BC into a Wellness Destination (or Wellness Mecca) would not only create jobs in the Tourism Sector but the Health & Wellness Sector as well....
- A TransLink Wellness-Hub could help with this...

It’s time to stop complaining about bad behaviour and start doing something about it, especially now that we have the technology that will enable us to - finally - do something about it... using a - measured response...

This is not about the world of yesterday, it is about the world of tomorrow.

Thank-you, sincerely,
Rick Orser
P: 604-325-0725