Burnaby resident petitions for return of full-sized buses
A Burnaby resident is petitioning TransLink to reverse a decision she says has led to long waits and accessibility issues on two local bus routes.
On Sept. 3, the No. 134 and 136 routes that provide service between Brentwood and Lougheed malls switched to using community shuttles on weekends and holidays instead of the full-sized buses used the rest of the week.
Tina Poole, 28, said that's created an overcrowding issue, with about a dozen people passed up by the full shuttle at Holdom Station at 4:30 p.m. on a recent Saturday.
With the route only seeing one bus per half hour on weekends, that can lead to a long wait for the next one, said Poole, a student at Simon Fraser University.
While not currently an issue during the NHL lockout, she is concerned about the shuttles' ability to eventually handle crowds of people heading to and from Canucks games.
The smaller shuttles are also less accessible, with room only for one wheelchair or one stroller, but not both, at any one time, she said, and they don't kneel like many full-sized buses do and have more stairs.
Poole said she recently watched a driver spend 10 minutes loading a person in a wheelchair onto the shuttle.
It's a particular concern, she said, because the routes serve neighbourhoods with many seniors and young families.
"I think it's unjust that people should have to choose the times they go out. You shouldn't have to worry about missing a bus."
With "very low" ridership, the weekend service needed to be adjusted due to budget considerations, responded TransLink spokesperson Drew Snider by email.
"On those particular routes, weekend ridership in fall of 2011 peaked at 17 boardings per trip–about one-third the capacity of a 40-foot bus. For that reason, we determined the community shuttle buses, with their capacity of 24 passengers each, would be the right size to fit the demand. We kept the frequency at twice per hour."
As for accessibility, both regular-sized buses and the shuttles have space for up to two "mobility devices" or strollers, with the main difference being that shuttles have the lift at the rear door and the driver needs to get out and help with boarding, Snider said.
"We are committed to making the best use of the resources we have; in doing this, we are moving existing resources from under-used areas and re-allocating them to address instances of chronic over-crowding," he said.
"In 2011, this enabled us to add 14 million trips at no extra cost. We will, however, monitor all our services closely to ensure that we still provide the best service possible."
Nevertheless, Poole is hoping her petition will show TransLink the level of opposition to the change.
To sign the petition, contact Tina Poole at firstname.lastname@example.org or 778-998-0006.