Opinion » Pique'n Yer Interest

One for the haters



I love my wife. I love my daughter. I love my mom and my family and my stupid dog. Valentine's Day is a good time to express these things, and to appreciate the people and things that I love and that I sometimes take for granted.

On the other end of the spectrum I'm fortunately one of those people who has a hard time hating people and things, other than the obvious — Hitler, cancer, hornets and Goldman Sachs.

But lately I find myself hating the bus, which is bad news because we're a one-car family and I live in the boonies of Spring Creek. Sometimes the odd bus trip is inevitable.

I haven't always felt this way about transit. I rode the bus daily for seven years, and generally found it to be a good, friendly service, reasonably convenient and worthy of some pride. But I'd argue that a lot of recent changes aren't working.

Case in point, my roommate. She got a nanny job in Alpine Meadows back in September, and to get to their house by 8 a.m. she would have to get up at 5:45 a.m. to catch a 6:30 a.m. bus. I figured the Valley Connector service would make it easier to travel north of the village, but it didn't really work as advertised and was arguably neither "connector" nor "service" in her case. She would spent almost an hour and a half commuting about 14km, which is roughly the same time it takes to drive to downtown Vancouver.

When I bought my Spring Creek house in 2006 there was a southbound bus stop on the highway, but that was taken away shortly after I moved in. To get home, I now had to ride the bus around Function and back up to the northbound highway stop — a minor inconvenience, adding about 10 to 15 extra minutes. Nothing I couldn't handle. Then Cheakamus Crossing opened in 2010, and suddenly the delay stretched out to 20 to 30 minutes, depending on whether your bus circled Cheakamus Crossing, Function Junction or both.

While incredibly inconvenient, it wasn't until last week that I came to the realization that I may hate the bus: three bus drivers in a row kicked me off the bus in Cheakamus so they could take their lunch breaks, two of them after 9pm. Leaving me to stand out in the cold waiting for the next bus. Instead I opted to walk home, which was more productive than screaming curses at the top of my lungs.

Direct service to Spring Creek does exist but it's incredibly sporadic, and the current situation actually makes a great case for buying a car — something I've never felt was really necessary before.

You could argue that I could probably avoid "lunch" buses if I read the schedule, but have you seen that thing? My guess is that it would take about eight years of post-secondary school with a mathematics major in Complex Systems to fully comprehend it with its blend of routes and weekend hours.

The easy and welcome solution for myself and everyone in Spring Creek would be to put the southbound bus stop back. I know there are safety issues to consider — safety being the reason why so many buses turn into Tamarisk (which is a complete waste of time in my mind and hasn't stopped pedestrians crossing the road there) — but I don't really care, and would gladly sign a waiver saying as much. People can ride the long way around if they choose, but I'd rather take my chances with traffic than endure another lunch break dismissal.

Of course, lowering the highway speed to 60km/h would make the situation that much safer, but I don't have much faith in that happening anytime soon.

Keep in mind that I'm not asking for anything new here, just a return to whatever year most closely matches the current transit budget. I miss the colour-coded bus schedules of yesterday where the buses were the same seven days a week, and there were only two schedules to learn, one for winter and one for summer. I miss the southbound Spring Creek stop, which made a brief and welcome return during the Olympics. I miss being somewhat proud of our transit system and it's once happy drivers and passengers, and the way it made life here so much more livable for everyone.

I know the situation is complicated, that there are new neighbourhoods to serve and the cost of the transit is going up, but we can fix this. Send every fourth southbound bus into Function, put up a pedestrian bridge at Tamarisk already, stop sending buses down that road and into Spring Creek, and get rid of the connector if people aren't willing to bypass the gondola transit exchange.

And if none of this is possible, can we at least have a policy regarding lunch breaks? One that doesn't stick its middle finger up everyone who lives Spring Creek.