TransLink will now have a 8:10 a.m. pickup at a bus stop in Maple Ridge after a mother had to send her son by cab to school for the past four weeks.
Her 12-year-old son, Caedan Smith has to make it to Garibaldi secondary at 248th Street and Dewdney Trunk Road, by 8:30 a.m.
Since school started, he has had to catch the 701 bus that is supposed to pick up at 8:10 a.m. at 236th and Dewdney Trunk Road.
He could take the 8:04 a.m. bus, but his mother says it usually shows up full.
The next bus is supposed to be the 8:10 a.m. bus while the next doesn’t show up until 8:53 a.m.
Traci Smith bought her son a Compass card but she says, Caedan and her two other children have been forced to take a cab to school.
“When I buy a monthly pass it becomes a binding agreement, a contract. You are supposed to show up, you (TransLink) are not,” said Smith about the bus.
Smith says the bus failed to turn up four out of five school days during the week of Sept. 9.
“The driver is missing a whole portion of the route and never ends up coming down 232nd (Street) to arrive back on to Dewdney.
“How is this possible?
“We all have cellphones. They cannot make a call to this driver and get it straightened out,” Smith asked about TransLink.
So far, Smith is out $50 in cab fares and she wants TransLink to pay.
But what she was really concerned about is safety if students end up walking to school now that the mornings are getting darker and rainier.
“It is all the rest of them I have seen on Sept. 6, when I had that day off and drove the kids to school,” said Smith.
She saw students lined up at bus stops, looking bewildered or just walking to school after giving up waiting for the bus.
TransLink told her that public transit is governed by the Motor Vehicle Act that says transit service can serve students, as long as the service is not exclusively for the students.
TransLink said it has to plan its routes for use by all members of the community and that when they redesign a route they take into consideration where schools are located, but are prevented from providing service specifically to schools.
However, they may provide extra trips to ensure that regular bus service continues to have capacity during times when students are travelling to and from school.
TransLink suggested that Smith, “discover new opportunities for carpooling, ridesharing, walking and cycling in the community.” Suggestions that were made as part of TransLink’s TravelSmart for Schools program, a program meant to engage students and parents to consider these alternative modes of transportation to promote an active and healthy lifestyle and more environmentally friendly options.
“This was not said in direct response to the scheduling miscommunication, but instead insight into the work we do with schools,” said Lida Paslar with TransLink.
Smith though says she’s, “frosted that they imply that I should have me child carpooling when a bus is right outside our doorstep and goes to my son’s school.”
The school district and the city both contacted TransLink.
“What we had heard was the 701, going out to Garibaldi, was sometimes full and it would bypass stops,” said Fred Armstrong with the City of Maple Ridge.
Paslar said they were, “aware that the 701 eastbound had been late reaching that stop.”
She said that there was a scheduling miscommunication and that TransLink has since made some adjustments. Paslar expects the bus will now be on time at 8:10 a.m.
Smith says so far this past week, the bus has arrived but on Tuesday is arrived at 8:34 a.m., on Wednesday it arrived at 8:34 a.m., and on Thursday it arrived at 8:18 a.m. and this time her son managed to get to school five minutes early.
“Was close, but better,” said Smith.
“Was still very stressful for them not knowing if the bus was coming, and when it did arrive, would they make it in time,” she said.