Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Bus gripes: bus transfers not to work on Skytrain

My girl and I have an ongoing conversation about why I don't write a letter to Translink about problems I've perceived with their system.

My most enduring gripe, as someone who commutes out from Maple Ridge, is that the 160 Vancouver - absolutely the best bus to catch if you're travelling downtown - is routinely scheduled so that it leaves Coquitlam Station about two minutes BEFORE the 701, the connecting bus from Maple Ridge, arrives. This means that you spend 40 minutes riding from Maple Ridge, enduring the digression the bus takes through Pitt Meadows - the 701 is by no means a direct, efficient bus - and then get to the bus loop to discover that the 160 just left, or is, in some cases, pulling away as you pull in. You can catch various buses instead, but none that go directly downtown. The 97 - supposedly a B-Line bus, supposedly synonymous with efficiency - takes you on a long digression through the back ass of north Coquitlam before delivering you to the Skytrain. The 177 hauls you through the hilly grounds of Riverview Hospital and plies its own circuitous route before getting you to Braid Station. The 169 is pretty good for getting to Braid Station quickly, but it's still only Braid Station, one of the most remote commuter hubs this side of Surrey. Any one of these routes, compared to the 160, adds a half hour to any trip downtown you may have planned - pretty much the same half-hour you're forced to wait at the bus stop for the next 160, when you miss it by two minutes.

This sort of poor planning doesn't happen by accident. My theory is, they build a half-hour wait (or a half-hour's worth of back ass digressions) into the trip for the simple purpose of making sure any transfer they give you is useless by the time you arrive in the city: to make you pay more money, in effect. The 160 would be perfect for getting downtown, and your transfer would still have some life to it, IF they designed the connections so that you could get on it as soon as the 701 arrived... it would be easy enough for them to offer a nice direct line from Maple Ridge, with a nice direct transfer onto a nice direct line at Coquitlam, if that's what they WANTED. That it is NOT set up that way must surely be glaringly obvious to all parties; if it were a mere mistake, it would have been fixed by now.

In defense of my cynicism here, take this article: with the upcoming compass card "upgrade," your bus transfer will no longer be valid for the Skytrain system; you'll have to pay an entirely new fare. This is obviously not good for consumers and commuters (or visitors to the city!) - but who the hell cares about them? It's not like this is a public service we're talking about... With this much bad faith on display, it's pretty hard to believe that complaints would make any difference. Bend over, bus riders: Translink has an upgrade for you...

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