Left Out in the Cold, Thanks Translink…
Exhausted after finishing up a project here at Simon Fraser University (SFU) in Surrey, I am finally heading home at 1AM. The cold November air penetrates my three layers of clothing. I get on the Skytrain, but when I reach the New Westminster Station I am kicked off by a Translink worker. He tells me to wait for the Metrotown bus downstairs and that will take me right to Edmonds Station. I follow his instructions, waiting with a handful of people for about 50 minutes. After a couple of stops, I am informed by the driver that he doesn’t stop at Edmonds Station and I get off at the Edmonds at Kingsway stop instead. I have to walk about 7 long blocks in the bitter cold to get home. Thanks to Translink’s early bedtime, my journey home, which usually takes only 20 minutes, ends up being about two hours long… TWO HOURS! This is no minor inconvenience! A young female student walking home at 3AM in the morning. Sadly, in this day and age, that is a story just begging to take a turn for the worst. Luckily for me, that didn’t happen. This time, that is.
We are constantly bombarded with messages telling us to use public transit instead of cars in a bid to become more environmentally friendly. There is even a Carbon Tax in place to encourage this earth-conscious behaviour. But how can Translink expect people to take advantage of our transit system when the Skytrain, the heart of the transit system, shuts down at about 1:20 in the morning? Students who rely solely on Translink to get around like myself are stranded at school after a long day of working on projects. Party and club goers are given less options for getting home safely after a night of drinking with friends. Whether Translink likes to believe it or not, most activities involving alcohol do not end at 1AM. Taxis are hardly a cheap alternative to public transit. No doubt this situation leads some of the alcohol impaired to risk driving while drunk. And don’t expect groups to have designated drivers; nobody wants to be left out of the festivities in favour of shouldering the responsibility of making sure everybody gets home safe. Why should Vancouverites forego their trusty cars in favour of a public transit system that is so unreliable late at night in which all they want to do is get home to their comfy beds? With such an early curfew for transit users coupled with other factors, it’s no wonder that some label Vancouver as the “No-Fun City” (Paterson, 2009).
There have been many pleas for the Skytrain to run 24/7 and even a petition held on Facebook with over 7000 signatures. However, Ken Hardie, a Translink spokesperson, explains that Translink would like to provide 24 hour Skytrain service, “but with the need to do track maintenance . . . they need that window every early morning" (as cited in The Province, 2008). Well, if round-the-clock Skytrain service is not possible then why not have busses that follow the Skytrain route to replace it when it shuts down at night? People would know exactly where the bus stops and they could be confident in the bus’ route. At 3AM, it is difficult for anybody to look up the bus they should take to get home after being abandoned by the Skytrain. Something like that would be a much better system than waiting for a mysterious night bus that seems to only arrive when you have already become a popsicle.
Chan, C. (2008, January 9). 7,000 ink petition for 24/7 SkyTrain service. The Province. Retrieved March 11, 2009, from http://www2.canada.com/theprovince/news/story.html?id=d5c72984-b337-4c8e-ac4f-9719aa861e67
Paterson, S. (2009, February 11). No-Fun City tag sticks as 2010 parties go elsewhere. CTV British Columbia. Retrieved March 11, 2009, from http://www.ctvbc.ctv.ca/servlet/an/local/CTVNews/20090211/bc_nofun_city_090211/20090212/?hub=BritishColumbia2010