I live in Surrey and I take transit to work in Vancouver every day. I first catch a bus at 104 Avenue and 146 Street which takes me to the Surrey Central SkyTrain station then I take the train downtown.
Until recently there were four separate buses that regularly travelled westbound along 104 Avenue to the Surrey Central SkyTrain station: the 337 (every 15 minutes); the 509 (every 20 minutes); the 590 (every 20 minutes); and, the 320 (every 15 minutes). Only one of these buses, the 320, stops at all stops on 104 Avenue. The other three are all express buses.
There is a fifth bus that does make all stops on 104 Avenue, the 501, but it does not operate during the morning rush hour.
During rush hour when school is in, the 320 frequently drives right past my stop packed to the rafters with passengers and I and many others find ourselves waiting 15 or 20 minutes for the next bus. Meanwhile the other three express buses roar by with greater frequency and are usually only half full with passengers.
Once I do get on a bus I find that there are often upwards of 30 or more people standing in the aisle. Likewise on the return trip home.
The 320 runs every 15-20 minutes in the evening and is frequently late and at times when I get to the Surrey Central SkyTrain station there are upwards of 80 passengers waiting to catch this bus.
For the past five years I have been asking TransLink to solve this problem of overcrowding on the 320.
I thought the solution was relatively simple and inexpensive. All TransLink had to do was tell the drivers of the 337, 509 or 590 that if they see people at any of these affected stops during rush hour to stop and pick them up. But no, TransLink’s solution was for me to catch the 320 headed in the completely opposite direction of my intended direction, ride it for five or six stops, then get off the bus and cross the road and catch the 320 heading in the direction I want to travel before it fills up. I have also been told repeatedly by TransLink that their long-term plan has been to put articulated buses on the 320 run but first they have to find it in their budget to buy some buses.
TransLink started another new bus route that goes down 104, the 96 B-line. All of the buses on this run are articulated buses and they run every 12 minutes.
I thought the problem was being solved but the B-Line doesn’t stop at our stops. Also, because they have added this new route they have reduced the frequency of the 320 (from every 12 minutes to every 15 minutes) making it even more likely that there will be more drive-bys because those buses will fill up even more and sooner.
Since the new 96 B-line is so under-utilized, why not put all of those articulating buses on to the more heavily used, over-crowded 320 route? Doesn’t that sound reasonable?
Well, it does not seem to resonate with TransLink. The problem continues.