Champlain Hts residents united against cut in 49 bus service to community

When I met with Champlain Heights resident Heather McCain yesterday to talk about Translink’s proposed service cuts on the 49 UBC/Metrotown Station bus route, she had just finished telling Vancouver Courier report Sandra Thomas about her remarkable grassroots effort to oppose the proposed change.

Thanks to organizing by her and other women in the community, more than 150 turned out to a Feb. 18 Translink open house to discuss the cuts, more than have turned out to all other “service optimization” community meetings combined.

Service optimization is the name for Translink’s continuing effort to make service more efficient by matching the fleet to the demand. In practice, that means some routes lose and other routes gain as Translink drives to maximize the use of equipment.

On the 49 route, the long-standing jog south to provide service to Champlain Heights mall would be cut out, along with 16 stops, to save about four minutes on the trip to UBC.

The gain would be welcome to students, who experience pass-ups and overcrowding on the route, but a terrible setback to a neighbourhood that was build around the 49 service in the 1970s and 1980s. Translink has yet to decide if the change will go ahead; if it does, it would be effective in September.

I’ll be working with my council colleagues to ensure the community’s voice is heard.