buses in the burbs


Thursday, November 16th, 2006 — 9:08am PST
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Vancouverites complain about transit [mbv]. Bus drivers being rude, overcrowding, trolley buses falling off their overhead rails, and that ain’t the half of it. But when I think about taking the #5 (Robson) or #6 (Davie) downtown I think about how spoiled we are compared to every other transit-taker.

Recently, the federal government has dumped millions of dollars into Translink for security purposes [news1130] but how about just making sure that it’s an efficient, accessible system for all in the Lower Mainland?

busstop-paradigm4flickr.jpgFirst of all, I can walk everywhere downtown. I can walk to work or I can take a bus if I’m running late. We can walk to GM Place, to the store, to the beach or we can take a bus because, well they come every 5 minutes anyway. All those who do not have these options, have it the worst and most of them are out in the burbs.

I used to Skytrain to work every day. I knew that it would take exactly 47 minutes from the minute I stepped on the train at Gateway, to the time I walked out onto Granville street. Now, if anywhere in that equation I had to take a bus on the Surrey side, my travel time would vary from 1 hour to 90 minutes, who knows. My mother does a commute from Surrey Central to Burrard every single day. When she gets back to Surrey in the evenings buses are either non-existent, packed to the gills or 45 mins – an hour late. She lives about a 20 minute walk from the station but I don’t think anyone would want her to walk home, it’s not an option.

Buses in the burbs are scheduled between 10 & 90 minutes and that’s on a weekday. Don’t get me started on weekends. You have to precisely plan out your day or trip and just hope that the bus will actually show up. I’ve been waiting at a bus stop for 50 minutes, finally calling the transit information line and getting the “we can’t locate the driver” spiel. It’s happened several times before. Buses get caught in traffic, drivers go MIA and you just have to wait. Not everyone in the burbs owns a car. Seems like most people downtown can a) walk everywhere b) own a car or honkin’huge SUV c) can catch a bus every couple of minutes.

When we think about what kind of reforms we need on transit, how about making sure that the bulk of people traveling from the burbs, (Langley, Surrey, Burnaby, New West, Tri-Cities etc.) can get to work on time, get their kids from school, get groceries and be back home safe and sound.

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