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OPINION – Crippled Public Transit System Creates Chaos and Job Loss

Fraser Valley – This opinion piece is from Mark Lillicrap:

Although I stopped using the Chilliwack Transit System about six years ago, my girlfriend and many of my co-workers are current users of the local buses.

The backbone of the Chilliwack Transit System is supposed to be the #1 Vedder bus, which runs from the Downtown Transit Exchange to the University campus/Canada Education Park in the south, and back past the transit exchange to Yale Rd and Menzies St in the north, before returning to the main exchange. The #1 Vedder bus is supposed to run at least every hour from early morning until late evening, increasing to every 10-20 minutes during the peak daytime hours. This is the route my girlfriend uses to get to and from work when I’m not available to drive her.

BC Transit’s website allows bus users to sign up for email notifications of cancellations on specific routes. In following the emails for the #1 Vedder bus — the supposed backbone of the system — I’ve discovered it to be notoriously unreliable due to frequent cancellations. These cancellations sometimes include the first two and/or the last two buses of the day in each direction, which means a two-hour difference in when the first or last bus of the day runs. Sometimes consecutive midday buses are cancelled, which means a difference of up to 40 minutes. I’ve attached examples of days when I’ve crossed off the cancelled buses.

Many bus users can’t afford to just call a cab in these situations, and sometimes the wait for taxis is 30-60 minutes or more. As employers expect their employees to show up for work on time, I do hope no one’s lost their job or been disciplined for being late when it’s our crippled public transit system that is to blame.

This has been going on for months. It isn’t specifically related to the weather, or the current surge in COVID-19/Omicron cases. Most of the emails blame the cancellations on the fact the transit system “is currently experiencing a driver shortage.”

I wrote this post to bring the matter to the attention of our politicians and the media, in hopes something might change. I also wrote it to make employers aware of the challenges their staff currently face in getting to and from work.

Mark Lillicrap

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