Quick thoughts on the SkyTrain unconferencePosted: 5 October 2008
On Saturday, I went to SFU Surrey for the unconference [wiki] on SkyTrain safety and security. All week I was unsure if I wanted to go; the focus just seemed too narrow for a gathering like this to work. And I personally haven’t been using SkyTrain much these days, especially since I’ve moved away from a location where I was a five-minute walk from a station. Fortunately, I’m glad I did; the participants did have a number of topics, and most within that safety/security sphere that I wouldn’t have thought of. Remembering my participation at last year’s Transit Camp (from which I picked up the “Jr Pilot” button in the picture), I didn’t even know why I was worried.
One of the sessions involved combating media perceptions and sensationalization of SkyTrain security (or lack thereof). It was interesting in that it’s a continuous PR battle on SkyTrain & TransLink’s part to ensure that the system, for the most part, is safe. One point that was brought up, and rightly so, is the societal stigma that transit is for the poorer classes and is fraught with crime. That’s well beyond the scope of the principals to fix, but it’s up to transit advocates to convince one person at a time that public transportation is meant for everyone.
I certainly congratulate the main organizers for setting up this unconference; it certainly seems a success, and hopefully can provide a template for future TransLink consultations with the public. The fact that many employees from TransLink and SkyTrain (including its president) were present is a good sign.