TravelSmart Survival in Your First Week Back
It's hard to believe that the dog days of summer are behind us as we now we brace ourselves for the back-to-school, back-to-work, back-to-reality time of the year.
Traditionally, the busiest time for customers on the TransLink system is in the two to three weeks after Labour Day. Last year, the number of passenger boardings jumped nearly 5.5 per cent from 2011 over 2010. This generally lasts until post-secondary students settle in to their new class schedules and begin spacing their trips throughout the day.
Have your tickets handy and ready for inspection while riding transit. Transit Police and Transit Security now have ticket writing authority to go after those out to get a free ride.
TransLink and its operating companies monitor the transit system closely during this period. Extra personnel are available at stations and bus loops to assist customers, while supervisors are stationed where they can make quick service adjustments to help move people as quickly and efficiently as possible. Nonetheless, some helpful hints can make this period a bit more “survivable”.
1. Patience, Patience, Patience
That first few weeks in September following Labour Day are traditionally the busiest of the year for roads and transit as we return in the hundreds of thousands to work and school following summer holidays. Count on your trips taking a bit longer – if they don't, it's a bonus!
2. Do some trip 'time shifting'
Are you able to telework during the first few days after labour day? Or, if you can, try shifting when you travel to avoid the peak of the morning rush on roads and transit. Transit's busiest spots, especially at the 'peak of the peak' times are:
- Commercial/Broadway bus stops have extremely long lineups for the 99 B-Line from about 8:15 - 8:45 a.m. but only a short wait immediately before or after. At that time, B-Line buses run about 2 minutes apart, and with a capacity of around 100 passengers, the wait is not very long.
- Commercial/Broadway Platforms 3 & 4 (upstairs on the south side of Broadway) see a steady build-up of passengers between 7 and 8 am and then the heaviest loads between 8 - 8:45 a.m. before the rush begins tapering off to normal daytime volumes by about 9:30 a.m.
- Production Way/University crowds hit their peak between 8 and 9 a.m. with students going to SFU
- Brighouse sees its heaviest crowds between 7:30 and 8:30 a.m.
Cooperation makes getting through crush time a lot easier for everyone. On the roads, give the other guy a break to merge or change lanes. On buses and SkyTrain, move away from the doors to create more room. One or two 'excuse me's' will get you to the exit when the train or bus reaches your stop. On SkyTrain station platforms, it's best to stand off to the sides of the train doors so passengers can leave the train more easily. The sooner they're off, the easier you can get on.
4. Remember, the kids are out there
Little ones heading out for those first days at school may not be looking out for cars, so drivers, please look out for them. Don't forget, school zone speed limits are back in effect as of September 6th.
Rather than drive your kids to school, why not get together with other parents at form a 'walking school bus?' It's healthier for everyone and it reduces congestion and traffic risks in front of elementary schools.
5. There's often more than one way…
Check out your route options with the TransLink Trip Planner because you might find one that will work better than your normal choice, for example:
The Broadway Corridor is one of the most-used transit corridors in all of North America, so over the years, TransLink has developed east-west routes worth choosing instead, such as:
#84 (from VCC-Clark Station via Olympic Village Station)
#25 (from Brentwood via Nanaimo and King Edward; rush-hour frequency between Nanaimo and King Edward has been improved as of Sept. 5)
#33 (from 29th Ave. Station via King Edward Station; rush-hour frequency has been improved as of Sept. 5)
#41 (from Joyce via Oakridge-41st Station)
#49 (from Metrotown via Langara-49th Ave. Station).
If you're driving to the Tri-Cities from Surrey or Langley or connecting to Highway #1 eastbound from anywhere north of the Fraser River, you might find the trip is faster and less congested over the Golden Ears Bridge (even with paying the toll, you'll save money in the long run in gas and car costs).
6. Get on your bike and ride
Take advantage of Metro Vancouver's growing network of bicycle routes. All TransLink buses can carry up to 2 bikes and you can bring a bike on SkyTrain (up to two per car on Expo/Millennium Line trains, although not during rush hours in the principal direction; one per car on the Canada Line with no restrictions). There are also many bike lockers available at SkyTrain stations and major transit hubs and the UBC Cycling Route Planner is a great resource.
Carpooling is not just for getting to out-of-town music festivals: get together with others from your own workplace or neighbourhood to share the cost of the daily commute: split the gas and parking bills and get to use the HOV lanes. Even carpooling to the nearest park-and-ride can make a big difference. If you're struggling to find a someone going your way, visit ride-share.com to register and start looking for matches. See if your company offers incentives for carpooling – like a specific website or designated parking spaces.
8. Saving Money
If you plan to use transit on a regular basis, get a break on fares with FareSaver tickets, a Monthly Pass, or talk to your employer and workmates about joining the Employer Pass Program (EPP). Monthly FareCards start paying for themselves by the 33rd trip, so even if you primarily use them to travel to and from work or school, after two weeks, you're basically riding free! And remember: the EPP and monthly FareCard are tax-deductible under the federal government's Transit Pass Tax Credit, which TransLink helped bring to fruition a few years ago.