So Jen’s previous post got me thinking about how spoiled us Vancouver transit users truely are. Especially compared to transit goers in Victoria; a city which is home to a transit system that is practically medieval in comparison to Vancouver’s Translink.
The realization of said spoiledness came crashing down upon me when I looked up at a Victoria bus stop for its number to text or a phone number to call to find out when the next bus was due. Well, more specifically the realization occured due to my distress when I realized that there was nary a number in sight. That’s right, nothing. Not having the text service is something I can handle (I’ve been riding the bus long enough to recall a time before this magical invention) but not being able to call someone to find out bus times?!? Thats just downright barbaric.
The technologically-challenged trend continues to their website. There’s no trip-planner – just maps and schedules that you have to figure it out for yourself. Also, I hope you don’t expect the maps to zoom in so you can get a better idea of where you need to be when… because they don’t. Nor do the schedules include every stop, far from it in fact, only about seven stops are shown. SEVEN. So basically if your house falls between stops you’re left at the mercy of transit. A daunting and incredibly frustrating prospect to say the least.
Perhaps this draconian between technology and transit is due to the fact that the majority of bus riders who actually vote for anything in Victoria are of the ‘nearly dead’ age bracket – who let’s face it, are more likely to perish in a freak shuffleboard accident than use a cell phone for anything other than a paperweight – or those who are too busy planning their next protest, dreading their hair or lamenting which ever political party is in power at the time to care about something as trivial as when the next bus is coming (“Heavens no! Not while Gordon Campbell is still premier!”) Or maybe it’s just because Victoria is a smaller town where not as many people utilize public transit…
However, if you ignore the fact that they are deprived of a skytrain (or other light rail equivalent) they do make up points with their double-decker busses. It is definitely a novel feeling climbing up the circular stairs to that level up high for your commute and it definitely makes the journey more fun. It’s extra lively when the bus encounters some tree branches that haven’t been trimmed back far enough. Sure it’s loud, and you only think the bus is under attack, crashed in to a tree/building/group of protestors or something else has occured that will result in a premature death on your way to point B, but it is only for a moment. Then you realize what really happened, your heart starts beating once more and your breathing returns to a more normal rate. Pure joy and excitement really. Totally makes up for the long bus rides and infrequent service. It’s like you’re in jolly ol’ England… right?
Anyways, my point is this: We are spoiled. Buuut only in comparison to places like Victoria who lack basic transit amenities (such as a texting service or fully functional website) and – and this is the real kicker – who pay just as much as we do for their mediocre service. Now, this realization does not in any way, shape or form make it any less annoying when translink doesn’t text back, or the bus shows up approx 15 minutes late and you’re going to miss your connecting bus and the person next to you smells and you really, really wish you just had a friggin car and….
Yeeeaahhh, totally spoiled.