Survey tracks pass-ups at Burnaby campus

Transit on Burnaby campus has been a long-fought issue.

Next time the 145 passes you by, you can air your grievances online using the SFU Student Mobility Advisory Committee’s (SMAC) bus pass-up report form, meant to track transit troubles on the mountain.

SMAC, along with representatives from the SFSS, GSS, and SFU ancillary services, is asking students to contribute to the survey whenever they are passed by buses that are already at capacity — a frequent problem for students going to or departing from campus.

The groups plan to use this data to lobby Translink for improved bus service on Burnaby campus.

“There’s quite a level of frustration on campus about transit.”

“There’s quite a level of frustration on campus about transit, and so it’s really important that we capture this data, this information, so that when we meet with [Translink], we’re able to show what really is the situation,” explained Mark McLaughlin, director of SFU ancillary services. “The situation is really unacceptable, so we have been in touch with Translink to try to get them to remedy the situation.”

The problem of pass-ups is felt acutely at both the bus loop near Cornerstone and the Transportation Centre. McLaughlin explained, “There is a lot of congestion, a lot of overcrowding, and that results in pass-ups because the buses are full.”

The survey, which has been up since the end of September, asks for students’ emails, the bus stop at which they were passed, the number of the bus, and the time of day. “The information we’re gathering, it’s really coming in rather fast and furious,” McLaughlin commented.

The SFSS has a history of transit advocacy, so when McLaughlin approached the organization for support on the initiative, they quickly jumped on board. “Obviously there has been issues with [transit on campus],” Darwin Binesh, SFSS VP external said. “People sit at the last stop on the 143 and get passed seven or eight times before a bus actually brings them to school.”

He continued, “If we collect a lot of this data, if people fill out the form online, every time a bus passes them for whatever reason, we can keep track so that when we go to Translink and make arguments for better service, we have our own data to prove it.”

Cheryl Ziola, manager of media relations at Translink, told The Peak that they are well aware of the customer concerns about bus pass-ups at the SFU loop and have had transit supervisors and transit security on site to monitor the situation and ensure customer safety.

“We anticipate that congestion will ease next week when the detours around construction at the lower exchange are complete and all buses return to regular routes,” she explained. “Typically, September is one of our busiest months as students and teachers return to school. This peak ridership tends to level off as people adjust their schedules to non-peak class times or seek other alternative transport modes such as cycling or carpooling.”

For the fall, Translink has deployed all available buses to major student hubs as part of their service adjustments. These adjustments include weekday frequency increases to the 135 and 143 and a return to regular service hours for the 145.

The SMAC survey will continue to be offered online indefinitely, with SFU representatives approaching Translink once they have accumulated more data.

In the meantime, SFU will expand the space at the Cornerstone bus loop near the 145 stop in order to ease congestion and make transiting home more comfortable for students.