Union demands more buses
I am pleased to able to endorse the union’s sentiments. The trouble is that new buses cost a lot of money and take newly two years from the date of the order to the date of delivery. And they need operators. I understand that CMBC is not only short of operators, but is having trouble recruiting more. And these additional buses are needed right now.
Buying second hand buses from the States (where transit systems get new ones every twelve years) might work, if you are picky about where you buy them from (smaller systems like Everett look after them better than big ones like Seattle – or rather keep up the maintenance as they near the end of their service life). You might be able to rent a few from other systems – though I suspect that most Canadian cities see transit ridership increase in the winter as cycling and walking is less attractive in cold weather. Dave Stumpo (former President of CMBC) once bought back a load of scrapped trolleybuses, thinking they could be put back into service. They weren’t.
How about hiring some coaches? I imagine that the private sector has quite a few standing around underutilised from the tourist season. Very high floors and narrow entrances on most of them, so they are not exactly suitable for inner city service, but they might free up some city buses by using them on longer, suburban routes. Of course, the union might have something to say about that too. And no fareboxes on them of course.
Could BC Transit help? Does transit use decline in Victoria off season? Probably not, but maybe transfer some in from other places?
Are we scrapping buses being taken out of service as the replacements arrive? Can some of the better examples be cannibalised to keep some in service a bit longer? Can we step up deliveries of community shuttles to get bigger buses off low ridership routes?
I have the feeling that both CMBC and Translink would dismiss all these ideas out of hand. But something must be done, and soon. And I have little faith in either organisation suddenly becoming creative. Except in coming up with excuses about why nothing will be done any time soon.