Transit user Helen Brooke is sick of being left stranded.
With the introduction of buses running along 208 Street, Brooke said she and other riders along the 200 Street corridor are suffering as a result.
This, she believes, is due to the 595 bus being rerouted from 200 to 208 Street.
“What TransLink has done is moved an existing bus route from 200 Street to service 208 Street,” said Brooke, who relies solely on transit to get around. “This is not an improvement. This is a classic example of ‘robbing Peter to pay Paul.’”
The new bus route along the 208 Street corridor went into effect Dec. 19, 2016 and since then, Brooke says she has been stuck at the bus stop at 200 Street and 84 Avenue a total of 10 times while the 501 drives by her with a “Sorry bus full” sign lit.
“It is standing room only,” Brooke said.
“Is this an improvement when it takes me over two hours to get home from North Langley to Murrayville, when it used to take only 45 minutes?”
TransLink media relations advisor Jill Drews said the proposal to realign the 595 bus to 208 Street was developed in 2015.
At that time, Drews noted, Willoughby had more requests for service than any other area in Metro Vancouver.
“The realignment has allowed us to have bus service in Willoughby without any additional funding needed. About 80 per cent of respondents supported the proposal during public consultation,” she added.
While TransLink has received feedback from many Willoughby transit users pleased with the change, it has also heard from those who were used to having the 595 bus run along 200 Street.
“Their main concerns have been loss of frequency, loss of the direct connection to the West Coast Express Maple Meadows station, and longer waits at Carvolth Exchange,” Drews said.
She added, “The approval of phase-one funding of the 10-year vision has allowed us to start making changes in response to feedback. We have made schedule adjustments to improve connections at Carvolth Exchange.”
In April, TransLink will also be increasing 501 bus frequency along 200 Street during evenings to every 30 minutes.
“We are also consulting on a new route along 72nd to allow for better connections with other major bus routes.”
Since moving to Langley more than 26 years ago, Brooke has witnessed exponential growth in Langley.
She noted that in 2011, the estimated population of Willoughby was 18,000 people and the current population is estimated at 28,000, with no slow-down in sight, it is calculated to reach 80,000 people by 2041.
“What needs to be addressed is the fact that transit service growth for Langley has in no way been improved to accommodate for the population growth, especially in the Willoughby community,” Brooke said. “What public transit routes were added to accommodate this growth? None have been added.”
Brooke plans to take action.
“Since the Township and City Mayors sit on TransLink’s Mayors Council, I plan to lobby them to get involved and speak up loud and clear for the residents of Langley who pay our fair share of TransLink taxes,” she said.
She plans to petition the riders on the 501 to see if they agree with TransLink’s assertion that the 501 has low ridership, “especially if they are like me and have experienced the dreaded ‘Sorry bus full’ sign.”
The petition reads, in part: “The reduction down to one bus serving the 200 Street corridor has increased commute times for people who have now only the 501 to use.”
Brooke understands that she is seeing the ridership only at peak times in the morning and afternoon, “and maybe the ridership is low the rest of the day.”
But, she argues, “real improvement would be to have more frequency in the a.m. and p.m.”
“Once every half hour is archaic service for a city that has seen such huge population growth,” Brooke said.
“With so many people choosing to make this their home, there is a huge need to give Willoughby residents reliable transit service that will get them to work, school, and allow them go about their daily lives safely and efficiently.”
Link to Brooke’s online petition here.