TransLink revs up services, but potholes remain

THE UBYSSEY

New 33 route offset by increased transit use since U-Pass introduction

by Alia Dharssi
News Writer

Thursday, September 25th, 2008

TransLink has established new routes, but has it improved the average commuter’s experience to UBC? On September 1, TransLink increased the options it offers to UBC students for getting to class with a focus on taking pressure off the 99 B-Line. Despite the up¬grades, lineups for the 99 during the first week of September were so large that security personnel had to be brought in to manage them.

“Even without the rise in gas prices, there has been more demand for transit than we’ve been able to fulfill,” Ken Hardie of TransLink said. Moreover, demand for transit has increased due to expansion of the U-Pass to other post-secondary institutions such as Langara College.

The new changes include a new No. 33 bus service that runs down 16th avenue, and increased service on existing routes to UBC. The aim is to provide more par¬allel East-West routes to UBC to take pressure off the Broadway corridor, which Hardie believes is reaching its saturation point.

UBC student Shirin Shustrian said the 99’s service is “not bad, but in the early morning it could improve a little bit.” Shustrian hasn’t noticed many changes from previous years, except that, if any¬thing, there are more commuters taking the 99 now.

Bus drivers who drive on the 99 also said that the conditions re¬mained about the same. “I think it will take about a year until people get used to using the 33 line,” said bus driver Gordon Bettiol. He also stressed that one of the major bar¬riers to providing better service is a lack of equipment.

UBC students have mixed opinions about the new servic¬es. “I have noticed fewer people waiting for the 99,” said UBC student Annabel Wong, though she noted that the 33 was a less efficient route than alternate options for her.
Francesca Fionda, another UBC student, described the 33 as “really great because I don’t have to take the SkyTrain anywhere to catch it,” but mentioned that it would be nice if it came more fre¬quently than its regularly sched¬uled 15 minute intervals.

This month’s changes are just the latest in a transformation of transit in Vancouver that has been underway since the advent of the U-Pass. In the 2 years after the U-Pass was launched in 2003, rider¬ship in Metro Vancouver increased by 20 per cent. Hardie stressed that no other city in Canada has experienced such growth.

More changes are in store for the coming years, beginning with the Canada Line, scheduled to open in 2009. Moreover, the con¬struction of a SkyTrain running directly to UBC is under consider¬ation, along with the contentious underground bus loop.

AMS VP External Stefanie Ratjen explained that the AMS has no formal mechanism for consul¬tation with TransLink to voice the concerns of UBC students, aside from one meeting per semester with the U-Pass administration. The AMS is planning to undertake a more comprehensive review of services, and more actively en-sure that TransLink is aware of important student issues, such as the debate around the aforemen¬tioned underground bus loop.

As part of this process, Ratjen hopes to see more express buses and new services, such as the 33, that provide alternatives to the current transit offerings.

“Transportation and afford¬able transit is imperative to stu¬dents, and it’s important that we focus on increasing access and affordability, especially in areas under served.”

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