Transit advocate Eric Doherty says bus riders get no respect

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      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.




      Dec 4, 2013 at 11:42am

      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.

      Transit Irony

      Dec 4, 2013 at 11:54am

      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.

      Alan Layton

      Dec 4, 2013 at 12:01pm

      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.


      Dec 4, 2013 at 12:07pm

      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.


      Dec 4, 2013 at 12:50pm

      There really is Zero Funding Crisis...

      There IS a Translink MISMANAGEMENT Zero Accountability Crisis!

      Eric Doherty

      Dec 4, 2013 at 3:41pm

      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.


      Dec 4, 2013 at 7:22pm

      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.

      Adrienne Kinzel

      Dec 4, 2013 at 10:07pm

      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.

      Real Transit Expert

      Dec 5, 2013 at 7:26am

      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.

      Eric Doherty

      Dec 5, 2013 at 9:50am

      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.