Monday, October 24, 2011
Tales of the 351
It’s a pic I snapped the other night on the #351 bus home from town.
The Canada Line is all swish and swell, and the driverless trains just keep a-comin’ till somebody shuts 'em down sometime well after midnight. But because connector buses to the southern 'burbs have a drastically cut schedule (down to only one per hour) after 11pm, the line-ups for the buses just grow and grow as the trains blindly bring riders to the changeover station.
Plenty of concerts and other events in Vancouver start around 8 (movies often at 9 or 9:30), so it’s only logical to see that many riders will be starting to head home sometime after 11. But some brainy administrator (who’s obviously never stood outside in the cold waiting for a bus) seems to have determined that everybody who lives past Richmond must go to bed by eleven.
Sure, there’s a bit of an overhang for shelter while you wait, but that’s it. And nary a toilet in any Translink station, so hang on!
Because the bus I was on (11:50 pm) was only faintly illuminated, it was hard to tell just how many passengers were standing. My best count (I did it twice) was over 30. With the number of seats on the bus (47) and the number standing – even if my head count was off, we were well over the stated capacity (60).
I’m grateful the driver was willing to take all of us, and that he didn’t want to leave anyone behind in the cold. As he pointed out as he asked everyone to keep moving back, “We don’t want to leave them out there for another hour.”
He drove smoothly and carefully, and a number of us thanked him for squeezing us all in. I guess we were just lucky that pretty well everyone on the ride that night was nice and slim!
Translink doesn’t seem to think there’s a problem with their scheduling. As of last contact, they have ‘no plans’ to add more late-night buses. Guess we better get used to this – and hope that all the drivers on the line are willing to bend the rules for the sake of riders on the 351 route.