More than 400,000 full buses had to skip stops last year: TransLink
The number of times full buses leave passengers behind has doubled in the past five years, to more than 400,000 times in 2014, according to numbers provided to CTV News by TransLink.
TransLink’s bus service hours haven’t kept up with surging ridership, bus drivers told a press conference Tuesday, adding they are sick of not being able to cram people in their buses, especially at night.
“I regularly leave people behind,” said Nightbus driver Krista lee Munro. “10 p.m., 11 p.m., 12 p.m., I’m too full to fit anymore people. That’s the worst. I hate leaving people behind in the middle of the night. You do everything you can not to.”
TransLink figures show bus ridership has jumped 13 per cent from 131 million passengers in 2010 to 149 million passengers in 2013, the last year that is available.
Pass-ups have doubled from around 200,000 in 2010 to 406,051 in 2014. They're counted by drivers who are expected to hit a “pass-up button” to record each time a full bus can’t take more passengers. That means that the number of passengers left behind could be far more.
Bus driver union leaders pointed to belt-tightening at TransLink that hasn’t allowed the agency to keep up with surging ridership on Metro Vancouver’s public transit system.
“There’s been savings from cuts but in terms of transit service it’s been status quo,” said Unifor head Nathan Woods, adding that TransLink has saved about $100 million since a series of audits looked at the efficiency of the $1.4 billion organization.
“They’ve been taking from underused services and putting those resources at higher ridership routes,” he said. “There’s overloading and overcrowding that needs to be addressed.”
Bus drivers are pushing for a Yes vote in the current transit referendum, which would add 400 more buses to the roads – about a 25 per cent increase. That would also mean hiring about 1,200 bus drivers and mechanics, the union said.
That’s a red flag, said the Canadian Taxpayers Federation’s Jordan Bateman, who said the union was looking for more members.
“More money means more union jobs, more union dues, and more people for them to represent,” he said.
Getting passed up is frustrating for University of B.C. doctoral student Craig Eugene Jones, who said “basically I can’t get on a B-line any more.”
Jones said he takes another bus backwards along Broadway to get on an earlier stop to avoid getting passed up.
Rebecca Smith said she takes the B-Line to work and gets passed up about three times a week.
“It’s not the greatest. Sometimes it makes you really hate the transit system,” she said.
Another driver, Jasmeenpal Thind, says his Surrey routes at night are usually full of people trying to get to a night shift, and when he leaves them behind, he knows they can’t make it.
“Every day we leave passengers behind. Wheelchairs, strollers, no shelters on the bus stops. We leave people there,” said Thind.
TransLink told CTV News it a statement it adjusts service four times a year to try to bring more service to people “within available resources. Total service hours across the region remain the same, and the same number of employees and bus operators are needed to deliver the service.”
The agency is adjusting Route 49 in Vancouver, 351 in South Surrey, the 410 and 402 in Richmond, the 640 in Ladner, and the C28 in Coquitlam.