Stephen Rees's blog

Thoughts about the relationships between transport and the urban area it serves

Archive for September 4th, 2007

Translink misses the bus

with 4 comments

Today was supposed to be the perfect storm of demand for the transit system. Except for one thing that the planners and PR people forgot. High schools do not work a full day first day back.

Actually this is just as well since Translink does not plan to carry kids to high school. Or at least not in Richmond. Sure if they get lucky they might find a service. But take the newly enlarged London-Steveston High School at Williams and Gilbert. On the ground breaking, east-west Community Shuttle C93. Just the thing to get the high schoolers from South Richmond to school. Actually this route also serves a number of other schools. Or not. The first westbound bus leaves Riverport at 0815. So for London students it will not get them to school on time. The first eastbound bus leaves Steveston at 0800 – and of course to get there it had to leave the garage (sorry, “operating centre”) at Shell Road and Steveston Highway at 0745 or thereabouts. Of course, it could have run in service along Williams, but it doesn’t. It says “Sorry Not In Service” (the most popular destination sign in the box) and runs empty along Steveston Highway instead and picks up no-one. It could be in service and pick up some fare paying passengers but that would be too much like operating a public service that meet the needs of the community.

Who do we blame for this? The service planners at Translink who specify the service or the service planners at CMBC who actually work out the operating schedules? Or maybe it is deliberate. After all,  the singular most notable feature of the Community Shuttle is the little bus – about the size of a bread van – that cannot cope with peak loadings from places like high schools at 3pm.

Community Shuttle at Steveston

I bet that with a little research, I could turn up more examples like this. Or maybe we could ask Translink to release the data of all those phone calls they get every September from people who would have liked to get the bus but found it was so badly scheduled it did not meet their needs.

At one time the policy was that every trolleybus was in service from the moment it left the operating centre. After all, there was no time to be saved as the trolleybus cannot overtake another trolleybus. But for some reason I notice that policy was abandoned a few years ago. Trolleys are now as mulishly closed to willing users as every other bus. There used to be concern about the amount of time equipment spent “deadheading” – it was the sort of problem that transport economists were supposed to help get a grip on. Well, no longer. Casual observation suggests that in recent years deadheading has increased significantly. Don’t expect Translink to publish any useful data on this or indeed any other operational issue.

Written by Stephen Rees

September 4, 2007 at 3:03 pm

Posted in transit