Editor, The News:
West Coast Express riders are having a premium service greatly reduced and we deserve to have our fares reduced accordingly.
We pay the highest fares because we are paying for a premium service that allows for a direct route.
TransLink did a general call for opinions in 2015, it mentioned that the TrainBus might be replaced by the Evergreen line and an extended 701 route.
TransLink did not call specific attention to this, and WCE riders were never approached directly for feedback.
To my knowledge, the issue was not revisited or mentioned again.
Many riders on the WCE were surprised by these changes, as I witnessed when riders received the handout that was put on the trains late last week.
It was noted that “when customers use the new 701 bus, they will not pay WCE rates.”
The fact is that typically WCE riders have already paid a WCE rate for the day or month.
Currently, if a WCE rider leaves work late, they can use their premium fare to take a TrainBus home.
Come January, they will have paid a premium for a service they cannot use to get home.
Most WCE riders use day/return WCE passes or monthly passes. So the fact that the 701 is cheaper is useless and exactly why I am saying the WCE fares need to be reduced overall.
While WCE fares include access to regular TransLink services, such as buses and the SkyTrain, WCE fares are for a premium service.
As of today, that premium service includes seven westbound trips (five trains, two TrainBuses) and 10 eastbound trips (five trains five TrainBuses).
These trips are all limited stops (at WCE train stations only), making for a direct route, and include air conditioning, washrooms and room for luggage.
Translink is removing two westbound trips and five eastbound trips for the WCE premium service.
The fact that TransLink is extending the 701 route has no bearing on WCE fares or routes.
The 701 is not a premium service – it is not a direct route. It has limited stops, is not air conditioned, and does not have washrooms on board.
The 701 is often overcrowded and I have more than once witnessed riders collapsing/fainting because the ride is long and overheated with people standing. Cutting the 160 will add even more riders to the 701.
The Evergreen/701 route will take many TrainBus users significantly longer to get home.
WCE riders already commute up to two hours each way – the 701 route will add approximately 20-plus minutes to the already long commute of WCE TrainBus users.
TransLink has not added additional local C-buses to ensure that 701 riders will be able to complete their trips. The 701 will, in fact, cause more riders to be stranded at stations with no connection to get them home, and riders will either have to arrange for a car, pay for a taxi, or walk, if possible.
Though the number of trips are limited, currently the TrainBuses have a C-bus that can usually connect to get people the rest of the way home.
WCE riders are having a premium service greatly reduced and we deserve to have our fares reduced accordingly or to have the TrainBus left as is.