PREST: West Vancouver's B-Line bus battle is baffling

There’s this scene in the classic Johnny Cash biopic Walk the Line where the Man in Black is taking his big shot at glory.

Working as a terrible door-to-door salesman, Johnny manages to talk his way into an audition with a record executive. With his home, his family, seemingly his whole life hanging in the balance, Johnny has one shot at fame and fortune. What does he do? He brings in his band and starts playing the slowest, drabbest old-timey gospel song you’ve ever heard: “Yes I know when Jesus saved me (saved my soul)/the very moment he forgave me (made me whole)….”

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Less than a minute in, the record exec stops them. “I hate to interrupt, but do you guys got something else?” he says. Then he unleashes one heck of a challenge.

“If you was hit by a truck and you was lying out there in that gutter dying, and you had time to sing one song. Huh? One song that people would remember, before you’re dirt….”

That’s when Johnny digs deep, closes his eyes and starts to sing: “I hear the train a comin’/it’s rollin’ round the bend/and I ain’t seen the sunshine/since I don’t know when. I’m stuck in Folsom Prison/and time keeps draggin’ on....”

That scene has stuck with me as I’ve gone through life. When you get that big moment, that opportunity to show the world what you really stand for, what are you going to do? Will people be stifling yawns as you sing “that same Jimmy Davis tune we hear on the radio all day?” Or will they get chills as you sing about the time you “shot a man in Reno, just to watch him die?”

There are limited moments in life where you get the chance to step up and be heard. What are the right moments? And what will you do when you get that shot?

The people of West Vancouver, it seems, are having one of those moments. They’re taking their shot. They’re packing their municipal halls, they’re making attack videos, they’re fundraising thousands of dollars, they’re flooding our newspaper inbox with letters to the editor. Here are some of the things they’ve had to say:

“Worst thing that has ever been brought to the people of West Vancouver.”

“The most insane thing that you can ever possibly imagine.”

“Everybody’s going to be sleeping in the hallways, shooting drugs.”

This docile, quiet, well-to-do and mature population is riled up something fierce, and they are letting everyone know about it. And what is this evil that has them leaving their high-priced properties and literally taking to the streets in protest?

A bus.

Yes, a bus. The story that brought the people of West Vancouver out of their homes waving signs and chanting slogans is a plan to put a new express bus route on the municipality’s main drag.

Now hold on, you might say: Is this one of those Mad Max buses that shoots fire out the back and has a guy chained to the roof playing a guitar that also shoots fire?

The answer is no. It’s just a bus. It’s slightly longer than the buses that already travel this stretch of road, and it also might have that flexy accordion middle thing.

I, for one, am baffled. This is what has the people of West Vancouver riled up so much that they’ve raised more than $3,300 in a GoFundMe campaign? We’ve gotten dozens and dozens of letters to the editor, thousands of Facebook comments. Even two of my fellow columnists have stepped up to shoot down this dragon. Note: it’s not actually a dragon. It’s a bus.

To quote the controversial fashion designer Jacobim Mugatu in the movie Zoolander: “I feel like I’m taking crazy pills.”

Yes, the plan calls for the removal of some parking spots and changes the flow of some traffic lanes to give priority to buses, vehicles that are parking, and vehicles turning right. They are also planning to build in more left-turn lanes. Taken as a whole, the measures seem likely to ease congestion because they will result in one lane being left completely free for through traffic, eliminating the aggravating setup now which forces drivers to do the Marine Drive slalom, swerving left to avoid cars that are parking and swerving right to avoid cars that are turning left.

But whatever. I’m not here to convince anyone. Minds seem to be made up anyway. 

It’s just … it’s a little too on-the-nose, isn’t it? One of the most affluent neighbourhoods in the country is pulling out all the stops to fight fast bus service? On a road that already has slow bus service?

This feels like a Johnny Cash moment. You’ve got the stage. You’ve got our attention. But what song did you choose?

Maybe in your head it sounds like a No. 1 smash hit. I’m not sure, however, anyone else hears it that way. 

Maybe when this is all over, no matter what happens, we can throw a big B-Line bash, with all proceeds going to the Food Bank, or Athletics4Kids, or The Harvest Project – charities that help people who, you know, might need to take the bus from time to time. Invite me to the party! I’ll do my best to come. I might need a ride though – you know what it’s like trying to get a bus in West Vancouver.

Andy Prest is the sports editor for the North Shore News and writes a biweekly humour/lifestyle column. He can be reached via email at aprest@nsnews.com.

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