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'It's daunting': With strike looming, commuter gears up for 4-hour round trip on 8 buses
RICHMOND, B.C. -- Dec. 10 update: The strike was called off and a tentative deal has been reached. Developing story here.
Elly Robertson’s commute is draining even on the best of days.
Robertson lives in Richmond and works in Coquitlam, and because she doesn’t drive, her best option is a journey that takes two buses and two trains, often topping out at over two hours one way.
"How do you do it?" I ask her Monday, with the threat of a SkyTrain strike looming.
"Well, I gotta pay the bills," Robertson says, matter-of-factly. "I do a lot of quiet thinking and listening to my iPod."
I first met Robertson back in December 2017 for CTV’s series on extreme commutes. Back then, she worked in Coquitlam and lived in Surrey. Her journey still took two buses and two trains (and a walk on each end), but the day I rode home with her, it topped out at around 85 minutes.
"How would you describe [your commute] now?" I asked her.
"Longer," Robertson answered.
But for the most part, Robertson added, it’s been reliable: Bus 408 to Richmond-Brighouse, the Canada Line to Waterfront, the Expo Line to Braid Station, and finally Bus 791 down United Boulevard, for the final 10 minutes on foot.
When Metro Vancouver bus drivers nearly went on strike, Robertson made plans to work from home.
For this week’s SkyTrain strike, she’s come up with a plan that worries even this veteran commuter.
"It’s daunting," Robertson told me as we looked at the route she’d crafting using TransLink’s TripPlanner.
Robertson plans to board the 408 as usual, but at Richmond-Brighouse she’ll catch the 410 to New Westminster. At 22nd Street Station she’ll board the 155 for Braid Station. And then it’s on to bus number four of the journey, the 791 to United Boulevard, with the end of the journey still on foot.
"That’s a long trip," Robertson said.
"How are you going to feel when you get to the office?” I ask.
"Exhausted," she said.
Her Plan B is blocked at around an hour and 44 minutes, not counting the walks, which means if all goes according to schedule, and Robertson says that’s a big if with three bus transfers, it may time out about the same as her regular route.
But she doesn’t mince words when it comes to her disappointment over the looming strike - the cause of her anxiety.
"I don’t think a strike is appropriate, I really don’t," Robertson said. "I had hoped that they would have been able to be adult and hammer out a deal."
CTV’s David Molko will be commuting with Elly Robertson from Richmond to Coquitlam Tuesday morning should a strike happen. Follow him @molkoreports and watch CTV Morning Live for team coverage, beginning at 5:30 a.m.