Mike McMillan has gone out of his way to get folks home safely on New Year’s Eve in the past.
The Coast Mountain bus driver was driving a “special tripper” a few years ago, an extra bus that was making runs from Surrey Central to downtown Langley.
A group of four people heading home found out he wasn’t going quite as far as they thought, and were facing a walk of a mile and a half at least from the downtown bus loop to Murrayville.
“We get a lot of people that aren’t avid transit riders [on New Year’s Eve],” McMillan noted. They don’t always check the routes and schedules before they head out for the evening’s festivities.
“You do your best to get them as close as you can,” McMillan said.
That’s why he dropped off most of his passengers, then headed down Fraser Highway to drop off his four others at 216th Street, a short walk from their required destination.
Drivers do have some leeway to drop people off between or after regular stops, McMillan said.
He said he thought, as a father, would he want someone to do that for his kids.
“I don’t want my son or my daughter stranded out at two o’clock in the morning,” he said.
McMillan, who has lived in Langley City and new calls Surrey home, has driven about 10 or 11 New Years Eves since he started working as a bus driver 18 years ago.
“It is a different dynamic,” McMillan said.
Partly that’s because of the 12 hours of free service. Starting at 5 p.m. on Dec. 31 and running to 5 a.m. the next day, transit service is free across the Lower Mainland.
“Lot’s of thanks, lots of gratitude,” McMillan said. Some people are surprised to find they don’t have to pay.
Although there may be the odd sick passenger on the bus, that’s nothing he hasn’t seen driving other days and other places around Metro Vancouver.
“I’ve never had a bad experience of New Year’s Eve,” McMillan said.
On New Year’s this year, there will be at least one extra Surrey-Langley bus added to deal with more transit riders, and TransLink will be monitoring traffic volumes and adding some more shuttles as needed.
There is more information about routes at www.translink.ca under “holiday service.”