Transit advocate Eric Doherty says bus riders get no respect


Does TransLink pay enough attention to the needs of bus riders?

Yes 11%
6 votes
No 81%
44 votes
Unsure 7%
4 votes

TransLink’s busiest hub—Commercial-Broadway Station—is getting a $50-million make-over.

As TransLink holds the first of three public-information sessions on Thursday (December 5) regarding the planned improvements, independent transportation-planning consultant Eric Doherty says bus riders in the station are “treated like third-class citizens”.

“There’s no respect being given to the bus riders at that stop,” Doherty told the Straight in a phone interview.

The transit advocate cited, in particular, the absence of a shelter for riders queuing up for the westbound 99 B-Line.

It’s a similar situation for people waiting for the eastbound 99 B-Line by the Canada Line’s Broadway–City Hall Station, according to Doherty.

“There’s all this money available for the really big projects, but for the things that really make a difference, like having some shelter for people waiting for the bus, these things are being swept aside in the transit-funding crisis,” he said.

TransLink spokesperson Jiana Ling noted that the regional transportation body has heard from 99 B-Line riders who board at Commercial-Broadway Station and a remedy is coming next year. According to her, TransLink is reviewing tenders to build a shelter for the station.

“We will make it better,” Ling told the Straight by phone.

The promised 99 B-Line shelter is separate from the $50-million upgrades to the station, which are expected to start late next year. These will increase capacity in anticipation of more passengers using the station when the Evergreen Line starts operating in 2016.

The improvements include, among other things, an east platform for westbound Expo Line trains, and a pedestrian walkway over Broadway connecting this platform to the Millennium Line platform and the westbound 99 B-Line stop.

The December 5 information session about the upgrades will be held at street level on the north side of the station from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m.

Comments (22) Add New Comment
If you visit a place like the Netherlands, the first thing you notice is the sheer scale of transit / biking (bike parking garages 3 stories high with 20,000 bikes, etc). That comes from a high density of transit users and biking.

But the second thing is that you get on a bus or train, and there's a totally different feeling. You feel respectable. As in, the people engineering the system respect the people riding it. Not like it's charity - like they expect doctors and lawyers to be riding the bus.

I solidly do not get that feeling on transit here.
Rating: +46
Transit Irony
The skytrain station at Marine and Cambie does have tall glass shelters for the people waiting at the bus stops. Very artfully designed... but they aren't actually very effective because they are so tall and narrow. Specifically, they only stop rain when it falls straight down (e.g. no wind). But when is that the case in Vancouver? And they provide no shelter from the wind either as there are only narrow sides at the end. The result is cold, wet people standing under expensive glass art.

But at least this is inline with general Translink design quality. Where else in the world do they lable Exits as Way Out?

Way out indeed Translink.
Rating: +30
Alan Layton
While I'm really happy in general that I don't have to take transit, I'm especially grateful that I don't have to use the 99 B-line. I feel sorry for the people who have to stand in long line-ups exposed to the elements, only to then be packed like sardines on a humid, smelly bus. I'm shocked that they've taken this long to consider building a shelter.
Rating: +28
It helps when the "bus riders [who] get no respect" actually respect each other, such as moving to the back of the bus, not taking two seats and removing backpacks.

If it's raining and I'm waiting for a bus without an umbrella, I blame myself and not the lack of a shelter.
Rating: +2
There really is Zero Funding Crisis...

There IS a Translink MISMANAGEMENT Zero Accountability Crisis!
Rating: +7
Eric Doherty
Bring back the 99S! Along with a really big transit shelter, the super-express 99S should be brought back into service. It used to run a peak hours only from Broadway and Commercial to UBC with only one stop at Granville (before the Canada Line opened). Why not bring it back with only a stop at the Cambie Canada line station?

It is time to stop treating the bus as the "loser cruiser" - all transit riders deserve respect.
Rating: +42
It's not called the winner cruiser for a reason, Eric.

I agree that Translink and the bus lines that operate under the agreement should show respect, and I think they do - at least I have never seen any staff person be rude or inappropriate at any time.

But respect from the riders should also be mandatory.

I see old ladies, people with disabilities, moms carrying babies and groceries who have to stand because the half-asleep douchenuggets in the front rows can't be bothered.

I see people blithely whacking others with backpacks, coffees spilling on the seats, loud talkers on their phones... it's not exactly a four star atmosphere.

And, you know, that is it's charm too in in a way. It's ruff n ready, it's the #14 Hastings! What else is it gonna be?

Or... what kind of respect were you talking about.
Rating: -7
Adrienne Kinzel
Vancouver needs a high quality bus rapid transit system serving the Broadway corridor. The bus service on Broadway needs many improvements. Who knows how long it will take the city to build the Broadway subway. In the meantime, we need more buses. I vote to redesign Broadway to imitate the innovative BRT systems built in South American cities of Bogota and Curitiba. It could be as simple as setting aside a lane of traffic in each direction exclusively for express bus service.
Rating: +4
Real Transit Expert
TransLink is faced with some very big problems.

First, TransLink's top management are not transit experts, they are accountants and have no feel for the common transit customer.

Two, the U-Pass, a deep discounted student pass has dumped a lot of people at this location, but there is no revenue from the U-Pass holders to invest on improvements. With over 110,000 U-Passes issued, the transit system is sinking under the weight of debt.

Three, in the 21st century, transit is seen as a product and if the product is good, people will use it. In Vancouver, transit is treated as a social service and as a social service, trying to be all things to all people, the transit product is poor and service fails.

Four, buses are seen internationally as looser-cruisers and because transit is operated as a social service, the service provided by the looser cruisers is very poor, with little amenities for transit customers.

What is needed to change in Vancouver is not more and more subsidies to pay for bad transit, rather operate the transit system as a 21st century product and if the product is good, transit customers will demand and get the amenities they deserve.

Sadly, everyone seems deeply entrenched in Vancouver how transit should be operated and change seems a long way off.
Rating: -17
Eric Doherty
One point I should have made clear in the interview is that bus shelters are a joint City of Vancouver - TransLink responsibility. So, if you and hundreds of your friends are getting wet, you can call Mayor Gregor and request a little respect from the Greenest City.
Rating: +14
Eric Doherty
"what kind of respect were you talking about?" asks RUK. A. The kind that results in decent rain shelters being built in places where hundreds of people line up for buses. This is a joint responsibility, City of Vancouver & TransLink in Vancouver - UBC and TransLink at UBC etc etc.
Rating: +1
John Beeching founding member COPE
Transit funding budget is decided by the BC Legislature. It is short of tax dollars because it gives tax abatements to big business and increases taxes to all below the median income line. Next election demand you will vote for only a party that reverses that "trickle down theory."
Rating: +15
Shelters would be great.

It would also be great if when the shelters go up, that asshats do not kick out the glass, add editorial comments on the sexuality of the models on the shelter ads, break off pieces of the seat.

It's strange how that even happens given that bus riders are first class citizens.
Rating: -4
Alan Layton
I didn't realize that the COV was partly responsible for bus shelters. If that's the case you can forget it because if it doesn't involve bike lanes or condos, Vision is not interested.
Rating: -10
Kerosene Lantern
Just layoff some of those car allowanced Translink "executives" and Transit Cops making 200k+ and the money will be available for shelters.

Didn't it take nine months just to fix the escalator? Thanks for the great "management".
Rating: +24
Fred and Shaggy
I've always wondered why there are shelters at rarely used stops on residential streets, but nothing at some of the busiest stations in the city. Is it because the crowds would obscure the advertising too much?

Bus crowds usually reflect the neighbourhood to which the bus travels. You'll see lots of young professionals on the #22 Macdonald when it leaves downtown and a totally different crowd climbing aboard the #22 Knight.

Vandalism knows few boundaries and transit shelters are easy prey. You'll see the glass kicked out as frequently in rich neighbourhoods as in poor ones.

The 99S was a bad idea and still is. It used to zip by half full while the regular 99 left people standing on the curb. Giving U-pass "freeloaders" a faster trip to school while making full fare passengers late for work is not an efficient use of buses.
Rating: +10
How is that poor countries in South America manage to expertly run and design their transit systems yet our city/province can't even figure out an almost straight line to UBC from Commerical Stn. They can't even figure out what a bus shelter does and blows millions on really tall thin glass structures that are useless. What kind of incompetent kleptocrats are in charge at Translink and how can we flush the entire lot

Rating: +12
@Eric Doherty,
I never knew about the 99S. One stop makes sense. I do not for the life of me understand the reason for both express and trolley bus service until about 3 am. Stupid, and the people who are exposed to the noise and pollution aren't grateful.
Rating: +4
James M James
Re: "Where else in the world do they lable Exits as Way Out?"
I seen 'Way Out' in many places - Perhaps in the UK, Oz, NZ?
Rating: +5
Judi Leger
Scott Road station has no cover, and people line up there for 10 minutes to an hour waiting for buses, not the 4 minutes the 99Bliners wait. And for this we pay 3 zone fares, versus the one zone or Upass price. Thousands of people go through Scott Road station daily, and, on the return journey, may wait for 2 or 3 #319 buses before they can get on. There is life east of Boundary Road, though Mayor Sunshine and his merry band don't seem to recognize it. TriCities was promised the Evergreen line in 1986. Since then we've had the Millenium Line, the VCC Clark line (What the hell is that!) and the Canada Line. If it was up to Gregor, we'd have had the UBC subway as well. Transit is not just about moving students, the working poor also deserve decent transit service.
Rating: +8


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