Langara students see little improvement on Vancouver’s busiest bus route

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Langara students board the 49 bus. Photo: Stuart Neatby.
Langara students still unimpressed with full buses and long commutes along the No. 49 bus route. Photo by Stuart Neatby.

Reported by Stuart Neatby

Metro Vancouver’s most overcrowded bus route has improved since changes were made earlier in the year, but not everyone along the way is satisfied.

In an effort to improve bus service along 49th Avenue, TransLink removed the Champlain Heights detour from the No. 49 bus in June. Despite the changes, full buses often still pass students during peak hours.

Sadul Singh, a continuing studies student at Langara College who rides the No. 49 bus going east, estimated that he still gets passed by buses once every five times, but indicates the service is better than before.

“Buses are quicker, and less crowded. When the semester started, it was very difficult to find a seat. But now, more often you’ll find a seat,” said Singh.

Chris Bryan, TransLink’s media relations advisor, said in an email that passengers along 49th Avenue now have improved service as a result of the change.

“Transit planning just makes a lot more sense when you can make as many straight lines as possible. You have more consistent service and you cover more distance more efficiently,” said Bryan.

Slower service to Champlain Heights

The 49 bus route is the most overcrowded in Vancouver according to TransLink. The route runs from Metrotown to UBC. Photo: Stuart Neatby
The No. 49 bus route is the most overcrowded in Vancouver according to TransLink. The route runs from Metrotown to UBC. Photo by Stuart Neatby.

But Champlain Heights resident, Judy Szonyi, has seen an increase in the commute home from her workplace by 10 to 15 minutes. The No. 26 bus, running less frequently, is the new, main line for the neighbourhood. Szonyi believes the changes have caused an increase in commuting times for seniors and low-income families.

“To make it harder for them to get around, when that’s probably their only form of transportation, is reprehensible,” said Szonyi.

More buses means bigger bucks

Gordon Price, former director of The City Program at Simon Fraser University, said that TransLink is struggling with chronic underfunding from the provincial government. Adding buses adds considerable costs. Price also said that large capital projects like SkyTrains consume a disproportionate amount of transit funding, despite increasing ridership on buses.

“The lowly bus doesn’t get respect,” said Price.

Read editor Chandler Walter‘s related opinion piece here.

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