Students protest bus overcrowding

keegan bursaw photo/the ubyssey

keegan bursaw photo/the ubyssey

THE UBYSSEY

UBC, SFU and bus drivers union draw attention to transit woes

by Stephanie Findlay
News Editor

Friday, November 14th, 2008

In anticipation of the November 15 municipal election, students from UBC and SFU rallied with bus drivers at stations across the city to bring attention to transit issues.

The UBC AMS executive organized at Broadway Station waving signs and handing out leaflets and buttons. Students at SFU held simultaneous action at Production Way Station. Members from the Canadian Auto Workers—the bus drivers’ union—attended the demonstration as well.

AMS VP External Stefanie Ratjen said, “Everyone is realizing that this is an issue.”
“People have been pretty receptive,” she said, adding that it’s important for students to be aware that their vote in the election can expedite a solution to current transit issues—vnamely, wait times and crowded buses.

Mable Elmore, bus driver and chair of the Union and Politics Committee explained that the bus drivers sympathized with the students. “We can’t meet the demand,” she said, “we continually pass up students”.

“The union has asked for support for all mayoral candidates to help fund purchase the operation of 500 buses in the system by 2012,” she said.

Elmore said Translink planned to have 1600 buses in operation by 2006, but last year only 1120 were on the road.

The introduction of the U-Pass in 2003 saw ridership increase by twenty per cent. This was accompanied by only a two per cent increase in new buses and service hours, according to Elmore.

“Passing people sucks,” said Christine Morrison, Canadian Auto Workers officer.

“I’m a mother and it’s my nature in general to pick people up—I don’t have a roof rack,” she joked.

The lineups at Broadway Station consistently reach to the back of the depot. The long waits for the bus have a negative effect on many students’ academic lives.

Hugo Li, a fourth-year arts student, has had to go out of his way to accommodate the long waits. For exams he says that he comes two hours early. “I do it for every exam,” he explained.

“Sometimes the lines are horrible. Four buses will pass by—especially in September. It happens all the time.”

Students and Auto Workers agree that transit is an important topic to consider, and both parties agreed the issue needs more attention.

Tahara Bhate, science representative on Student Council anticipated the voter turnout for the election. “A bunch of them will [vote], but not necessarily for transit,” she said.
“I don’t think either party has been talking about transit.”

Still, there is potential for students to cast their ballots to put an end to long waits and overcrowded commutes to school.

“Let’s go out and vote,” said Ratjen, “and know the issues why.”

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