Carpool group emerges on Facebook in response to transit strike anxieties

Students create their own ride-sharing system

SFU students are banding together to carpool to campus

By: Jess Dela Cruz, News Writer

On October 28, Translink workers under Unifor issued a 72-hour strike notice against Coast Mountain Bus Company (CMBC). With SFU being largely a commuter campus, students rely heavily on transit to get to and from campus.

Shortly after the notice was released, Vice-President Finance & Administration Martin Pochurko sent a mass email to all SFU students regarding the strike. He wrote, “in the event of transit disruptions, operations at SFU will continue as usual [ . . . ] with that in mind, students, faculty, and staff who regularly rely on transit are encouraged to consider alternate transportation methods. ” 

Many students took to the myriad of SFU Facebook groups to discuss how their commute to school would be affected. Second year biology student, Natasha Wong, decided to address the panicked discussion many students were having on the strike. 

“[With] an influx of posts asking for rides to and from SFU all over [the Facebook] groups [ . . . ] I thought it would be best to centralize it,” she told The Peak in an email interview. Within one hour, she claims that over 400 members had joined. That number has now increased to over 1,200 members. 

The page’s description encourages members to make their posts in the following format: offering a ride/seeking a ride, area, day, and time. Many students from all over the Lower Mainland have offered to pick up others along their route, including specific skytrain stations or intersections. Some drivers required a certain amount of payment either per head or to chip in for gas money. For others, a cup of coffee would suffice. 

A student, who wished to remain anonymous, told The Peak how he used the carpooling group to find someone who could help them get to campus. 

“My driver has the same class time in the morning, didn’t look sketchy, and also happened to pass right by my house on her way to school.” The student added, “I actually really enjoy carpooling. My driver was super friendly and chatty, and it was a really nice change from sitting on the bus by yourself in silence. SFU has always been called the lonely commuter campus [ . . . ] in my experience so far, [this] has been a really good way to break the cycle.” 

Sixth year student and driver, Elda Hajdarovac, offered her assistance as a driver because “ I used to take transit in my first and second year and I know how hard it can be to try and get to campus. Plus I feel it’s a great way to create a sense of community and positivity in light of a difficult situation for all.” 

And while many students are providing or seeking rides, some students are wanting to show support and solidarity with the bus drivers. Third year Beedie student Sophia, along with her ethics class, used their class project assignment to spread awareness about drivers’ conditions. With this project, Sophia “hope[s] students can gain some empathy towards bus operators and voice their support and concerns to Translink, CMBC, and the cities affected by the strike.” The students did this with an information table at West Mall Centre with information, template letters, and Unifor petitions for students to participate in. 

The Facebook page is under: SFU Carpooling Group if you would like to provide a ride or require one to campus. 

 

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