I do use transit. Not as much as when I had a free pass, I admit, but more often recently. Last week I parked at a friend’s place in Edmonds and we went downtown by SkyTrain. Fast, comfortable and without incident. Tonight I went to Canada Place, and recalling what I had paid to park there last time, went on the bus. I checked the Translink website and took the route they advised. Out to Highway 99 and an express bus. Very swift, very smooth. And there was even leg room in the latest iteration of the Orion V, plus a polite GPS annunciator. And a door to door time of 45 minutes which is about the same as driving. Probably (he said to anticipate the inevitable comment from Malcolm) it will not be as good next year, when Canada Line forces a transfer.
Coming back was slower as I did not know what time I would leave, so I just jumped on the first B Line I saw. The next bus signs seem to have been set to “underpromise” so the service can overdeliver. It told me I had ten minutes to wait – but I did not go get a coffee as I could see it coming. The bus I caught was using all door boarding – very effectively – and even had the SkyTrain chimes to warn of doors closing. No GPS on this puppy. And a very rough ride indeed along No 3 Road. Also very drafty: the heaters seemed to be switched off and many windows were open. I was resigned to the usual 20 minute wait at Richmond Centre for a #403 when another B Line turned up running back to the garage. So my return journey was a respectable 60 minutes. Or roughly twice the time it takes to drive at 7pm.
But the good news was I was only out of pocket $6.25. Which is probably less than I would have paid to park since I got there before 6pm. The test for transit is: can you get people out of their cars? Impark and it’s competitors seem to be doing Translink’s job for them. The incentive to take the bus gets stronger as the developers build on ever more parking lots, and the parking prices soar. The kinks are getting worked out of the information technology and there are even a few places now with actual bus lanes – like northbound Seymour. But what will be really impressive is when you can take transit without any trip planning – and still equal journey times of the car.