By: Alex Smiciklas
With the new semester in full swing, students are slowly getting back into the pace of teachers, textbooks, and, of course, transit.
At the end of the fall semester, TransLink implemented changes across the lower mainland, many of which directly affected SFU students, particularly in the Vancouver, Burnaby, and Tri-City areas. While the changes only happened in the last two months, TransLink hopes the shift will help maintain and grow its transportation system and make it more efficient and customer-focused, as per the highlights of phase one of the 10-Year Vision 2017-2026 Investment Plan.
Three of the particularly important changes for SFU students have been changes to the 143 bus, the opening of the Evergreen Line extension, and the removal of the 135 and subsequent introduction of the 95 B-Line. Read more on the 95 B-Line published in an article in The Peak earlier this year.. It may be too early to tell what impact these changes have made, but students are already noticing whether or not they have improved their commute.
The 143 bus, which now connects SFU Burnaby campus and the new Burquitlam SkyTrain station, no longer services Como Lake Avenue. The avenue is a popular route for many students, as it’s on a main road with an easy connection to Gaglardi Way. Kailli Spence, a fourth year environmental science student, lives nearby and has found the changes increase her commute time.
“Before the changes, I used to walk a few minutes and take the 143 all the way up to school. Now I have to take the 180 to Burquitlam Station and wait in line for the 143 to take me up the hill,” she said. “I know these changes are supposed to make Coquitlam transit more efficient, but it changes my commute to school from 20 minutes to 40 minutes.”
While TransLink’s plan may complicate commuter routes nearby Burnaby Mountain, the much anticipated Evergreen Line has already expedited travel time for people commuting to school and work further inland. The Millennium Line now connects VCC-Clark to Lafarge Lake-Douglas, with stops in between at Production Way-University (connecting to the Expo Line), Burquitlam, Moody Centre, Inlet Centre, Coquitlam Central, and Lincoln.
“The Evergreen Line makes it so much easier to get around the Tri-Cities,” said Spence. “The stations tell you how frequently the trains are running (similar to the Canada Line), and makes it super easy to get to Coquitlam Mall and other amenities. I know students travelling from further away and it’s made their transit rides faster and more reliable.”
Meanwhile, the new 95 B-Line has been promising to be a more reliable and direct service between SFU’s Burnaby and Vancouver campuses. With fewer stops and higher frequency, students are no longer subject to the service issues and bus bunching that came with its predecessor, the 135. However, there are questions regarding its accessibility, especially for individuals who live near the stops that were removed.
“The 95 B-Line doesn’t make a huge difference in the time I spend travelling along Hastings. Fewer stops quicken the route in general, but add extra walking time to my journey,” said Rita Ovis, a communication student at SFU. “I could really see this being an issue for anyone who isn’t as mobile, particularly disabled and elderly people. They may have to take [a] second bus in some instances, which counteracts the whole purpose of the 95 B-Line being an expedited and more efficient route.
“The changes TransLink makes will never satisfy everyone. It’s the unfortunate rule of the game and it usually impacts those with less accessibility the most.”
TransLink’s new changes are bringing a mixed reaction to the lower mainland and students commuting to SFU. Only time will tell if the services prove to be more help than hassle.