– Anger mounts over loss of 601 bus

The Delta Optimist

By Sandor Gyarmati

Ladner resident starts petition and Facebook group to save direct bus service from South Delta to Vancouver

Anger is mounting as South Delta residents will soon lose their direct bus service to downtown Vancouver.

Starting Labour Day, Sept. 7, passengers who now take a bus from here directly into Vancouver will be diverted to the new Canada Line station at Bridgeport in Richmond. The rapid transit system began operating this week, three months ahead of schedule, taking passengers from Waterfront Station in the downtown core to Richmond City Centre and the Vancouver International Airport. The transportation authority notes the service between Richmond and Vancouver, going down Cambie Street, takes only 25 minutes.

However, many residents here have been voicing concerns for quite some time that they’ll be inconvenienced and, in many cases, their travel times will increase. That’s because they have been going down Granville Street but will now have to get off to transfer to other buses to reach their destinations.

Ladner resident Irina Kordic is one of them, saying that although she works downtown, she’s convinced getting off and waiting for a crowded SkyTrain in Richmond will make the commute a cumbersome one.

“It’s not even as much of a problem going as I think it will coming back, it’ll be a bit more of a challenge. They said that they’re going to increase the service to the Ladner Exchange, but I’m still convinced I’ll be waiting in the rain for a bus,” she said.

Another resident who recently called the Delta Optimist complained her daughter works at Granville Island and, in addition to waiting for a train in Richmond, will now have to take two extra buses to get to work, adding over an hour of travel time. It’s a similar story many other South Deltans have complained about since first learning they will lose their direct bus service into downtown Vancouver, including parents of children who attend private schools further away from Cambie Street who have to transfer.

In a letter to TransLink CEO Tom Prendergast, Denis Horgan, vice-president and general manager of Westshore Terminals, said the transportation authority will be forcing people back into their vehicles. When Prendergast attended a Delta Chamber of Commerce luncheon this summer, Horgan wrote, a suggestion was put forward to the TransLink boss that there may be people in South Delta interested in perhaps paying a premium for direct bus service.

Delta South MLA Vicki Huntington this week said she has spoken with TransLink and suggested a couple of compromises. She noted she hopes her suggestions will be considered and is “keeping her fingers crossed.”

Delta council has already asked TransLink to delay the elimination of the direct bus serve.

Some of the concerns Delta conveyed about the change include the hardship for seniors that may not be able to get a seat on the train, accessibility for seniors having to change modes and crowding and congestion at Bridgeport Station.

According to TransLink, bus frequency of the #601, #602, #603 and #604 routes will improve. At the Bridgeport station, there will be a train (350 passenger capacity) approximately every 3.5 minutes from the airport or from Richmond. Every other Vancouver-bound train from Bridgeport Station will be from the airport and these trains are expected to be relatively empty in the early morning travel period as flight arrivals at the airport at the time are infrequent, says TransLink.

Kordic, who plans to make a presentation at the question-and-answer period at Delta council Monday, has started a petition that will be available at Huntington’s constituency office in Ladner. Kordic plans to submit the petition to TransLink on Sept.1.

“I don’t think people were expecting this would actually happen and if I would have known more about it, I would have started a petition earlier,” she said.

The petition is available online at www.gopetition.com/online/30195.html. Kordic also started a Facebook group called Save the 601 Bus Route and it already has over 200 members .

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