TransLink boosts security for back-to-school rush

Vancouver Sun

By Amy O’Brian

METRO VANCOUVER — TransLink will boost its security presence Tuesday at some of its busiest stations in anticipation of the back-to-school crush of transit riders.

At the Commercial-Broadway station, where police had to be called in last year to deal with hordes of people wanting to get on to crosstown buses, there will be additional security, TransLink spokesman Drew Snider said.

Snider said a combination of police officers, transit security and SkyTrain attendants will likely be on hand to ensure the crowds move smoothly and that riders have paid the fare.

“There will be a security presence at Commercial-Broadway to make sure we have line management in place there and the same sort of thing around Canada Line,” Snider said Monday.

“Commercial-Broadway is one particular choke point where it can be problematic with lines crossing, so we will be watching that.”

Richmond’s Brighouse and Bridgeport stations on the new Canada Line are also apt to be particularly busy this morning as thousands of commuters find themselves navigating new routes into work and school. Suburban buses from communities such as White Rock, Tsawwassen, Ladner and Delta, which once went straight downtown, have been rerouted to Bridgeport and Richmond-Brighouse, where commuters will have to transfer to the Canada Line to get into the city core.

“We are expecting a lot of people. There are a lot of buses going through there and we will have our street teams on the ground, as well as people watching the lineups,” Snider said.

“It’s brand new for a lot of people. There will be a learning curve.”

Monday was the first day of the new bus routes. Snider said TransLink will be keeping an eye on traffic at those stations and will be sending in additional staff and security as needed.

An electrical fire that started at about 12:30 a.m. Monday near the Richmond-Brighouse station briefly shut down Canada Line service in part of Richmond. But Snider said the fire was quickly extinguished and service was back to normal by Monday morning.

The arrival of the Canada Line also means bus schedule changes within Vancouver. The popular 98 B-Line express bus from Richmond to downtown Vancouver has been cancelled, which leaves some commuters who depended on the Granville Street route feeling stranded.

Jelena Putnik lives close to Granville Street and West 70th Avenue and relied for years on the 98 B-Line to get her to her work, which is close to Broadway Avenue and Granville Street.

But now that the B-Line service has been cancelled, her most reasonable transit option is to take the much slower No. 10 bus along Granville, which stops frequently, rather than only at major intersections. Putnik says she would have to travel nearly two kilometres east to use the SkyTrain, and it’s possible she will start driving into work more often because of the inconvenience.

“It’s a huge step backwards,” she said Monday.

Putnik and her neighbours have written to TransLink with their complaints, and to suggest that the 98 B-Line remain in some capacity, but she is not confident their complaints will be heard.

“There is a sense of helplessness that people feel because of the big corporate structure of TransLink. People feel like they don’t have a voice,” she said.

To ease congestion, Snider recommends people avoid the busiest travel times by either leaving home earlier than they need to, or waiting until rush hour has passed before heading out. The heaviest travel time on SkyTrain is between about 6:50 a.m. and 8 a.m., particularly if you’re travelling into downtown through the Commercial-Broadway station, he said.

Above all, Snider asks transit riders to exercise patience.

“We always have lineups, especially in the days and weeks after Labour Day. That’s just the way of the world. It’s what happens when you’ve got a big city and we’ve got a transit system with a lot of people using it,” he said.

“Patience is key. Everybody is in the same boat. Our workers are working flat out to get people where they need to go. To my knowledge, nobody has ever made a bus arrive faster by fussing about it.”

aobrian@vancouversun.com

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