Increased ridership has caused Translink to lag behind the growing demand for commuters — particularly those going to and from UBC.
According to Translink’s 2017 Transit Service Performance Review, five of the top ten routes that saw the most annual boardings service the university. While this doesn’t necessarily mean all these routes were among the most overcrowded, bus hours have only seen a one per cent increase across the entire sub-region.
Overcrowding seems to be the constant concern among students, some of whom say they have been late for class multiple times due to bus delays. One student described recently waiting 40 minutes for the bus after having several full buses pass by.
“If you’re just before a skytrain [stop] or just before campus, you’re just not getting a bus,” said fourth year student Lori Waugh.
The top four UBC-related overcrowded routes in 2017 were the 99, 25, 41 and 49. At 207th place, the 99 saw the highest percentage of revenue hours with overcrowding. The 25 was slightly lower at 206th, the 41 stood at 198th and the 49 landed at 146th.
“It’s not so much that buses are late, but it’s [that] they’re full, full, full,” Waugh said.
Translink is aware of the problem.
“We are experiencing a situation where ridership is really growing fast as well so we’re playing catch up you know. We’re not getting ahead of it, we’re playing catch up so we are really hopeful that we’ll be able to deliver service increases in the coming years,” said Chris Bryan, Translink’s senior media relations advisor.
According to him, multiple factors that have caused this increase in transit usage including high gas prices and the strength of the local economy.
“If things do soften, economy wise, generally you’re going to see ridership [growth] slow down,” he said.
But Translink is fairly confident that increased ridership will continue, especially as they add new service.
According to the 2017 performance review, the 43 received few complaints and its overcrowding rate dropped from 16 per cent to 11 per cent, even with a 23 percent average increase in weekday boarding.
Annual service hours for the 25 and the 99 have seen marginal increases, and the 99 ranked first in overall service hours for 2017.
The 41 will also be seeing a B-line added by the end of the year, which Bryan says will ease the overcrowding problem.
“We are at Translink very aware that the situation is not ideal for people getting to UBC, we know there’s lots of crowing on the buses, we know that there’s cases of pass-ups we really want to improve that service for people and we’re doing the best we can to roll out new services as quickly as possible,” he said.