When I travel on holidays, I'm usually quick to learn the transit system of any community I'm visiting, whether it be the rust-bucket (with holes in the floor) rickety buses of Mexico, the Go buses in Toronto, the Tube in London, the Sound in Seattle, le Metro in Paris, or Eurorail for travelling through the countrysides of Europe.
But I can count on one hand how many times I've ridden on the buses, or even SkyTrain, here at home in the Lower Mainland during the past 10 years.
By my own admission, I'm one of those Valley people infatuated with my 4,000-pounds of steel and fibreglass on wheels, reliant on that for almost all my transportation needs.
It's in my role as a blacktop hugger that I want to ask this question about bus service.
No, it's not the same question that comes from almost everyone in Langley: "When is TransLink actually going to provide appropriate bus services to this suburban community, so people could actually use it?"
It's not when proper bus shelters will be erected at more of the stops around this community - you know, to help keep riders dry while they wait, and wait, and wait for their bus to arrive in our Wet Coast weather.
I question the strategic location of bus stops along some of our main thoroughfares.
Maybe there's some English-speaking (not jargon-speaking) engineer out there who can explain to me the placement of said bus stops - I notice them especially problematic along 200th Street or Fraser Highway.
Maybe it's too complex for this little brain to fathom, but why are there so many bus stops situated just 100 feet past an intersection?
To my way of thinking, this is dangerous. When a bus stops to allow passengers on or off, invariably, the motorists behind are forced to come to stop - and just after they get going again, usually. All too often, this causes a seemingly unnecessary backup of cars that extends back into the middle of said intersection. To make it worse, if a passenger has the audacity to have a bicycle that needs to be removed from the rack (which yes, is environmentally friendly, and I applaud it) that causes further delay.
Am I the only one who's ever been caught in the middle of an intersection after the light has turned red again because of this congestion problem? I doubt it.
Okay, so one person argued that I should be paying attention enough to know where these stops are, and to drive defensively enough to avoid them.
Fair. But it's not always possible, especially if a big truck ahead blocks my view of the bus and the stop. And how could I hope to know where every bus stop is located, and if a bus driver is going to have to stop or not?
My nephew weighed in, simply saying, "Auntie, the answer's easy: Always drive in the left lane." I'll give the child credit for thinking of that in such simplistic terms, but again, that's not always possible, especially if there is not an alternate lane.
Someone suggested fewer but bigger bus stops that allow room off the thoroughfare for the bus driver to pull out of the way of traffic.
I don't see that being feasible: property acquisition alone would simply be too expensive.
So this pet peeve leaves me pondering: Does it look pretty when the engineers draw these ideas out on paper? Is this some attempt by the brainiacs to have a little fun with us pesky drivers? Or, is there really some logical reason why they're located where they are?
My suggestion: how about relocating these bus stops before the major intersection? It seems like a safer and not terribly costly suggestion.