Now that we have had an opportunity to actually experience the newest bus transit schedule, we can analyze its shortcomings in line with reader Marie Williams’ comments (Progress, June 28). First, the actual transition was badly mishandled, without any redirection posted on the previous superannuated bus stops, leaving riders stranded. Location of the new stops is inconsistent, forming huge gaps and forcing longer walks for seniors, whereas other stops are invisible due to parked cars, overgrowth, etc. Stops are either too far apart, or unnecessarily close (Knight) or even non-existent (Yale at Broadway). Stops along Broadway on the east side which lack proper sidewalks forces passengers to wait in mud, or else stand out in the street, providing dangerous target practice in this town.
The printed schedule itself is the usual infamous Byzantine production, misrepresenting the new No. 2 Evans route as a through line, although a closer inspection reveals that the connecting bus for Eagle Landing has already left by the time our bus has arrived at the exchange, necessitating another hour wait. Why not be truthful and distinguish them with different route numbers? People boarding the wrong No. 2 bus may find themselves heading back home from whence they came. This blunder only perpetuates the aggravating problem of missed connections that has plagued the system, both at the malls and at the exchange, which the city has repeatedly failed to address. Why does the No. 1 bus not stop at ‘A’, the downtown exchange, as the schedule misrepresents? Instead, transfers have to walk all the way from or to Southgate Mall, or to Kipp, hardly an ‘improvement’ over the old system. Moreover, city councillors brag about implementing 20-minute service along the downtown-to-mall corridor, conveniently suppressing the fact that a decade ago there was in fact 20 minute service in the mornings at least with the old No, 5, 6 and 7, something for which this council cannot take credit. Again, there has always been night runs until 9 p.m. Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays despite its misleading claims that this is something new that has been initiated.
More egregious though is the denial of services to outlying boroughs such as East Chilliwack beyond Broadway, East Sardis along Higginson and the university at Tyson (a mile west of the Vedder bus stop). The line along the old McNaught No. 2 was well supported, both by seniors and students, only to be thoughtlessly discarded as redundant, all under the misleading rubric of “simplifying” and “streamlining”: euphemistic doublespeak for “slash and burn.” City council has played down the loss of service to some of its citizens, so that it can boast of the Big City feel of frequent service, deliberately ignoring the fact that Vancouver has taken a century to reach its level. Council’s self-congratulation is premature, to say the least. Only councillor Lum has the decency to admit that the newest system is “not perfect” and “will inconvenience some” without specifying who this “some” are. In the real world, not some faceless and thankfully anonymous abstraction, the “some” are a senior who has to push his walker over a curbless street, taking over half an hour to reach the nearest bus stop, and that is in the heat of July. What do you think it will be like when he has to plow through the December snows? Or an elderly pensioner who has just recovered from a double knee transplant? Or a half-blind bearer with multiple sclerosis? The excuse that there is an alternative for these people does not hold water, full of holes because Handi-Dart is becoming increasingly difficult to access in either a convenient or manageable fashion, and the other council diversion that seniors can rely on the Taxi Fare Saver program to bridge the gap in bus services is patently fails, since there are signs that the provinces will pull the plug in the near future. Besides, which senior surviving on just the OAS pension could afford even half a fare, let alone pay for the rent and bread? Such council callousness smacks of “let them eat cake” – an attitude that scarcely commended itself to its original author over 200 years ago. Maybe it’s time this council actually listened to its citizens, instead of the sham one-nighters at Evergreen Hall, where bus patron’s questions were not allowed to be brought from the floor for public discussion and open debate (this sole meeting was purposely not well-advertised, so as to prevent as many of the most afflicted parties as possible from attending, a covert ploy well-known to politicians seeking to constructively disenfranchise any opposition). Pretending that this ‘appearance’, this simulacrum, of real public consultation is all that is sufficient to give a false colouring to what should be the fairness of due process.