Tim Newman has sympathy for bus drivers and TransLink employees who handle complaint calls so he often rolls with the punches on his commute from Coquitlam to Metrotown.
“They deal with some nasty people and they always keep their cool,” said Newman.
But even he had reached the point when he had to vent because the bus he wants to take home frequently doesn’t show up.
Newman’s been taking the 156 route that loops around southwest Coquitlam to Braid SkyTrain station every morning for about 20 years and then takes it back during the afternoon rush. Although it’s scheduled to run at 30-minute intervals, Newman said there have been times when he and his fellow commuters have had to wait up to 90 minutes.
“Trying to get home at the end of the day is an absolute crap shoot,” said Newman, who added what should be a 32-minute commute often takes triple or more time to complete.
A couple of weeks ago, he took the 153 bus instead of continuing to wait forcing him to walk a kilometre out of his way to get home.
But on Tuesday, April 9 he’d had enough. After an interminable wait, a 153 route bus, which he said uses the same bay at Braid as the 156 was late too. It was still occupying the spot when the 156 finally arrived and parked in a different bay. It let out its passengers and by the time Newman and about 15 to 20 others realized it was their bus it had taken off without them.
“[Tuesday] night was just the ultimate in you’ve got to be kidding me,” said Newman.
The same day, said Newman, his 15-year-old daughter, a student at Centennial secondary, waited an hour for the 156 to show up after she’d completed her extra curricular activities. “That I find extremely disturbing.”
A solution may soon be on the way. TransLink spokesperson Lida Paslar said several routes suffer from similar issues and dealing with it has been on the operations department’s radar for a while. The company hopes a change that will kick in April 22 will provide a fix.
Paslar said the delays for the 156 route, and other small routes in the system, were being caused because bus operators would often complete a different route before continuing on to smaller ones such as 156. So when congestion caused delays on the first route, the second felt it too. Praslar said the new plan will discontinue the practice of operators continuing on to another route, which should improve reliability.