CSU Transit Advocacy Continues Amidst Pandemic

Months after TransLink spring service changes, CSU continues to monitor impact on students  

Bridget Stringer-Holden // Associate News Editor 

Four months after Translink implemented their spring service changes, the Capilano Students’ Union (CSU)’s prior skepticism appears to have been warranted. 

Earlier this spring, TransLink modified their bus service, which resulted in less service to Capilano University (CapU). The 239 Park Royal/CapilanoU route was replaced by the R2 Marine Drive RapidBus, while the 222 Metrotown Station/Phibbs Exchange route was added. This addition complements the former 130 Metrotown/CapilanoU and 28 Joyce Station/CapilanoU routes, now named the 130 Metrotown/Pender/Kootenay and the 28 Phibbs Exchange/Joyce Station respectively. Passengers wishing to go to CapU must now connect with the 245 Phibbs/Capilano, which shuttles them the rest of the way thanks to the CSU’s advocacy. “We did the math and we realized that with all of these changes made, it would result in roughly a 50 percent decrease in service capacity to Capilano University, and obviously that was unacceptable to us,” said Grace Dupasquier, Vice-President External for the Capilano Students’ Union (CSU). 

When the CSU noticed that TransLink would be streamlining three routes into one at Phibbs Exchange, they realized that the proposed changes would not meet the needs of the population it was trying to serve. Students already face large wait times getting to CapU and these new changes are likely to exacerbate the situation. “We were very concerned that they would just make these changes and all of a sudden students would end up stranded and not able to get to Cap at all,” said Dupasquier. 

Although the CSU estimated that the changes would allow about 500-770 students to move between Phibbs Exchange and Capilano University during peak hours, COVID-19 has once again reduced service—recently leaving one CapU student stuck at Phibbs Exchange waiting over half an hour for the 245. “Once the pandemic situation is over and students start returning to campus in greater numbers, we’re going to be very interested to see how these changes have actually impacted the flow of commuters to and from campus,” said Dupasquier, who assured that the CSU would continue to monitor the situation to see how students are affected. 

Prior to Translink’s announcement, the CSU calculated that there was the capacity to move 1155 students per hour during peak hours. The 245 Phibbs/Capilano was scheduled to come in eight-minute intervals during peak hours. This lowered capacity down to approximately 350 riders per hour, or 539 at “crush load” capacity—Translink’s term for overcrowded busses. The CSU brought these numbers to TransLink and they said they’d take it into consideration. “Despite the obvious safety and personal space concerns that term automatically conjures, Translink was apparently still hesitant to mitigate these circumstances by offering increased service to the university until CSU advocates began addressing the issue,” said Dupasquier, noting that she felt dismissed after presenting the figures. 

“They seemed to feel that the model they had proposed with the original eight-minute gap in peak service hours would be enough to meet the needs of the university,” said Dupasquier. However, TransLink eventually became more receptive to students’ concerns, reducing the gap to six minutes during peak hours. There are still other worries for the CSU—such as accessibility for the harder-to-reach RapidBus stops—but the CSU’s primary concern at the moment is seeing how students are affected by these changes once the pandemic is over.  

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