Vancouver transit is underappreciated

What is with this region and its hate for transit?

Yes, it takes 50 minutes to go from East Burnaby to the West End. You are traveling a long way. Ignoring the huge costs involved with owning and operating a vehicle, driving would only take 15 minutes less, assuming the roads are clear — and you’d have to find and pay for parking!

Maybe my transit tolerance comes from growing up in a small northern community. Travelling to the next significant town used to take anywhere between 45 minutes and an hour and a half. When I moved down here, that kind of travel was already part of my existence, so taking the bus never felt like an issue.

Maybe it comes from attending a university that has me travelling between three campuses. We have to go to classes in Burnaby, Surrey, and/or Vancouver. Transit is part of any SFU student’s reality, unless one can afford the huge costs of living on campus; even then, there’s no guarantee of having all your classes in Burnaby.

Maybe it’s simply that I am able to entertain myself by reading a book, sending emails, texting, or enjoying my podcasts. I’m OK with the time spent getting places.

Maybe it’s a culmination of any number of other reasons. Whatever it is, saying you don’t want to come out to visit me in Burnaby because it’s “too far out” is kind of being a jerk. Seriously, do you think you’ll turn into a pumpkin if you take too much time crossing the bridge?

When I hear, “I would come, it’s just that you live so far away, why don’t you come here,” it comes across as, “I’m more important than you and can’t be bothered to come see you, yet you can come see me, because your time is less important.”

Metro Vancouver has some of the best transit around. Could it use some improvements? Oh heck yeah: the SkyTrain could run later, if not all night; anyone who lives in Surrey has to deal with the ridiculousness of the system there; and if you live in East Burnaby and need to get to the airport, plan for an hour commute.

It sure beats where I grew up though. There, we only had two busses, north and south, that ran every half hour and stopped at 7 p.m. It beats what I’ve seen in Sydney, Australia, where the busses and the train compete and each charges you independently to use their services. It beats Toronto where train delays are part of your daily commute. It beats most of the transit in Central and South American cities I’ve seen, where you don’t always know where the bus is going, or how corrupt the driver might be.

Ask anyone not from Vancouver about the transit here. We are spoiled. We have a system that’s trying to do the best it can to serve a population that does nothing but dump on it. We have people who would rather drive because “I don’t take transit.” We have people who vote “no” on a tax that would have benefited the system even more, because they think they are sticking it to a corrupt system. We have people who don’t want to travel because it is too far.

I’m done listening to the complaining. We live in a massive city. Transit is part of it and travel is part of the price for it all. If you don’t like that, move to a small town and stay secluded, or stop your whining.



  1. Totally agree with you and I was born here. I remember having to take the bus all the way down Kingsway from New Westminster to downtown Vancouver before the sky train even existed. Now that was a long bus ride!

  2. Underappreciated ? You must be kidding. The Halloween is over and and the April’s fools day not that close, but this article is a joke. Transit in Metro Vancouver is terrible, and saying just that I am still being very kind. The Skytrain is breaking too often, buses not showing up at all or being late too often, rude drivers with a bad habit of running red lights and driving into other cars when they want to change a lane. What is so great about that dear Tim ?

  3. The transit here is actually pretty good. Transit in Toronto’s surrounding suburbs isn’t as good (speaking from experience, live there). In Markham Ontario (YRT), transit costs $4, vs the 2.75 here!!! Additionally bus slow downs or non appearances are not frequent.