If there is anything that will make you feel good about the Translink service in Vancouver it’s living in the suburbs.
Confession- I grew up in Surrey (I say this with a head bowed in shame and a voice so low it’s barely a whisper). I would also like to make it clear that I was born in Vancouver (survival tactic for those born on that side of the bridge). During my childhood I was lucky to have parent to drive me to places when I needed to go to them and schools close enough that I could walk to them (in groups of course). The day I turned 16 I missed my morning classes in school to go take the test for my learners permit, I was fortunate enough to turn 16 just before the new graduated licensing laws came into effect. Two months later I was a licensed driver and I never looked back.
To say I never took transit in my teen years is an understatement. The only time I took transit was to get to Metrotown or to hockey games downtown. Buses were out of the question.
It wasn’t necessarily security reasons why I wasn’t on the buses in Surrey. Sure, standing at bus stops alone is scary for any teen or her parents to handle but the real reasons for not busing in the ‘burbs was that the bus system was (is) horrible.
When I moved to Vancouver to attend UBC I gave up my car and began my relationship with Translink. Admittedly I didn’t want to give up the luxury of driving myself, blasting my music and putting on mini-concerts in the car, but when faced with parking prices in the city, giving up the car was not so much a problem.
For a blip last year I found myself living in Surrey again (recession+living in another country + no money = forcing you to move back home) and working in downtown Vancouver. I continued to rely on Translink and found out pretty fast that the luxury of buses running by your stop every 10-15 minutes (if not less) was long gone. I had to leave my house 2 hours before my shift started in order to make it to the bus on time, if I happened to miss that bus, it was a half hour wait for the next, surely leaving me late to work. The walk to the bus stop I found out was relatively short, I’ve known people who lived 20 minutes from their nearest stop. Mine was only 5.
The way most of the Vancouver suburbs are built makes it hard for Translink to plan services through them. There are so many side roads and cul-de-sacs that the stops are forced to be far from the living areas. They do run services down the main roads and areas, but unfortunately it’s not as often as one would hope.
And so, if there is anything that makes me happy for my every 15 minute service (on weekday) and multiple bus route options it’s the memories and horrors of living in the ‘burbs and missing my bus by mere seconds. I will never miss running down the street spilling hot coffee out of my tumbler and burning my hands as I try to catch the bus before it pulls away from the stop, knowing that it’s a half hour wait (and a stern look from my boss) if that bus leaves without me.
Anyone have other horror stories of suburban bus riding that made you appreciate the Vancouver service?