No. 701 bus ‘behind schedule’

Rider wants better service in east Maple Ridge, calls it 'Third World'

Bus rider calls Maple Ridge service 'Third World.'

Bus rider calls Maple Ridge service 'Third World.'

Andrew Pozsar said the No. 701 bus in Maple Ridge is chronically behind schedule, and that other transit improvements are needed.

The bus doesn’t run on time, riders have to fend for themselves in wet weather or when there’s little daylight. And when he gets off the bus in east Maple Ridge, he’s often stepping into dirt or bare ground instead of even pavement.

Pozsar is visually impaired and has taken the bus twice a week from downtown Maple Ridge back to his house, in the 250th Street area, for the past three months.

He relies on the No. 701 to get him home. It’s supposed to leave Haney Place Mall bus depot at 8:42 a.m.

“It’s usually 10 to 15 minutes late, every single time. Not once have I caught that bus in the last three months, was it on time. Not once.”

On Nov. 2, he saw the No. 701 bus with a “Maple Ridge east” sign pull into a stall in the Haney bus loop at just after 9 a.m. The driver then put its “out of service” sign on the bus, and parked close by for about 15 minutes. The driver then moved the bus into another stall and put its “Coquitlam station” sign up that showed it was ready to head west again, without going to east Maple Ridge.

Pozsar said he called TransLink and explained what happened. TransLink told him the next bus at 9:08 a.m., wasn’t coming either because it had mechanical problems.

“It’s a Third World-country bus service that we’re having in Maple Ridge east.”

Pozsar said he had to catch a ride home, and on the way, saw crowds of riders waiting for the bus.

He notes that along the No. 701 route, once outside the downtown area, there are no bus shelters. At the stop in front of Garibaldi secondary, kids wait in the rain.

When he exits the bus on 250th Street, he steps down into mud or dirt, in the dark, with open ditches nearby.

If the stop was moved a block north, passengers could exit on pavement.

Pozsar has called TransLink’s customer service department and also left a message for TransLink CEO Kevin Desmond and Community and Sport Minister Peter Fassbender, who’s also responsible for TransLink, but hasn’t heard back.

“This is a serious issue. This is an ongoing problem with this route.”

TransLink just announced that it has completed its public consultation on Phase 1 of the 10-Year Vision for Metro Vancouver Transit and Transportation.

TransLink received 5,183 public survey responses and hosted eight open houses across the region during the consultation, which took place Oct. 11-31.

The plan is supposed to give Maple Ridge 64 per cent more bus service than it has now, including service to Silver Valley and a rapid bus from downtown Maple Ridge to Evergreen SkyTrain line in Coquitlam.

TransLink media relations manager Cheryl Ziola said the bus involved on Nov. 22 was 22 minutes late.

However, buses are often delayed by traffic congestion, motor vehicle accidents and detours or road construction, among other factors.

“When they fall too far behind schedule or “bunch up” behind each other, operators sometimes get permission from a duty manager to shorten their route, turning back in order to return to their normal schedule.”