Students left discouraged, Translink has bigger issues to deal with

Bus ridership is continually increasing, and Capilano University students have noticed the long lines which are preventing them from getting on the bus efficiently. Students experience the regular difficulties – late buses, not being able to find a seat, and that guy breathing loudly next to you. Lately, however, everyone who regularly rides the bus to Capilano has noticed the recent trend of long line-ups, especially for the 239 Park Royal.

For many students at Capilano University, taking public transit to and from school is an everyday occurrence. The four bus routes going to the school, and the relatively recent introduction of the U-Pass, which is mandatory for all students who pay Capilano Students’ Union fees, have had an impact on the number of students who now rely on public transportation to get to class. While most agree that the bus service at Cap is adequate, students are not without their fair share of complaints.
Photo by Natahsha Prakash

The extensive line-ups for the 239 Park Royal bus are slowing students down and getting on their nerves. When surveyed, a majority of the students in a bus line-up agreed that these lines were “incredibly annoying.” The bus is likely the most popular for Capilano students, with its stop just steps away from the library building and its combination service to Phibbs Exchange, Lonsdale Quay and Park Royal. However, the bus route’s popularity has resulted in huge lines which students find to be unfavourable, particularly with uncomfortable crowding on the buses.

“The bus lines for the 239 area is a pain in the ass,” says first year student Kristie Mendoza. “They should send more buses, more often.”

Arts and sciences student Parisa Peyman agrees. “The bus service is pretty good, but I dread the long line-ups.”

Another issue with the line-ups is that they are affecting students’ ability to be on time for class, and for staff and faculty to be on time for work. They have to worry about fitting onto the bus that will get them to their destination on time.

“I have things to do after school, like working, but there have been times bus line-ups make it impossible to get to work on time,” says science student Masheed Salehomoum.

However, the problem with bus lines expands beyond the 239 bus stop. With the bus loop closure, due to the construction of the new film centre, students are lining up for three different buses at the same stop, located at the bottom of Lillooet Road.

“The line-up is incredibly disorganized. Sometimes you don’t know which bus you’re getting on,” says second year student Mack McCorkindale.

The bus loop closure has also caused minor inconveniences for students arriving at school in the morning.

“Call me lazy,” says a student who wished to remain anonymous, “but I hate walking up that hill in the morning. It’s not a big deal, but I could do without it.”

While there is no specific group within the Capilano Students’ Union (CSU) that is responsible for transit-related issues, last summer CSU Senate representative Bahiyyih Galloway took action and started a petition calling for more frequent buses, especially during the summer months. Students who had been taking summer courses were forced to wait up to 30 minutes for buses to and from the school. The petition has now concluded, but not without success.

Derek Zabel, Translink’s manager of media relations, says that as of December, “midday service will be ramped up to 10 minute service on the 239.”

Translink has received a few complaints regarding bus service at Capilano University, notably due to the line-ups and bus overcrowding. When asked if transit service for university students was a high priority for Translink, Zabel replied that the company prioritizes “all routes that would have a high ridership or crowding conditions,” which likely includes all university bus routes.

He reports that, generally, the heavy amount of construction within Vancouver is taking up a lot of Translink’s time and energy, but they are dealing with all other issues in the best way possible. In regards to the other bus stop at the end of Lillooet Road, Zabel says that they are not planning to increase bus service any time soon, due to the cost of creating new stops and routes.

As a result of Translink’s impending increased service, line-ups for the 239 Park Royal will likely be decreased as of December.

For now, it appears students waiting for the other three buses will have to deal with the crowded bus stops. However, with the new film centre’s projected completion in March 2011, students will soon have a new bus loop which will be undercover.

Although there is much negativity from students surrounding the issue of bus line-ups, many students are grateful for the many routes that come to the school, and their efficiency. Students are, despite complaints, generally very satisfied with bus service to school.

"I wish the buses weren't so crowded, but at the same time I know it's the most efficient way of getting everyone home on time,” says Salehomoum. “I know compared to other bus systems, I can't complain.”

//Katie Shore

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© 2011 The Capilano Courier. phone: 604.984.4949 fax: 604.984.1787 email: editor@capilanocourier.com