DISTRICT of North Vancouver council needs to work with TransLink and the provincial government to secure a bigger bus depot to aid the under-served bus riders on the North Shore, according to representatives from the transit operators union.
"If we had more buses here, at least 125, it would help the local community," said Raj Janjua, a member of the union and politics committee with Canadian Auto Workers Local 111 who spoke to the District of North Vancouver council Monday night. "It's a big contribution to the local economy."
There are currently 82 buses serving North Vancouver, well short of the 125 to 150 vehicles necessary for optimum service, according to Janjua.
The buses are currently garaged on East Third Street near Ridgeway Avenue, but the facility has drawn noise and pollution complaints from nearby residences and is overcapacity, according to Coast Mountain Bus Company.
TransLink expressed an interest in a new depot in the Pemberton industrial area in 2005, but no plans were formalized.
"We've been hearing for the last 10 years that it's going to be shut down," Janjua said, adding that there is no firm closure date.
Part of Janjua's presentation to council included photographs of long lines of Capilano University students waiting for buses.
"They're being served miserably," said Alan Nixon regarding the students, who are forced to purchase a $120 U-Pass each semester while facing increasingly long line-ups, particularly at the Phibbs Exchange.
"Adding a guaranteed community shuttle to that route would make a lot of sense," said Coun. Mike Little.
"I don't think it'll be able to absorb all the people," Janjua said following the meeting, pointing out the shuttles only carry 24 passengers.
Coun. Doug MacKay-Dunn acknowledged the complaints, but said he wasn't sure a solution could be reached.
"I hear TransLink has no money, so I don't know how we're going to square this circle," MacKay-Dunn said.
"We don't need to have brand new buses," said Gavin Davies, vice-president of CAW Local 111.
There are quality used buses available, according to Davies. "The problem we're faced with on the North Shore is, 'Where do we park them?'"
The worst situation would be a depot in Burnaby once the North Vancouver garage is closed, according to Janjua, who said an incident on the Ironworkers Memorial Second Narrows Crossing would cripple transit on the North Shore.
TransLink needs 400 more buses system-wide to serve its ridership, according to Davies.
While students continue to deal with crammed buses, Janjua said North Vancouver is about average when it comes to being underserved by transit.
"It's not the best, it's not the bottom," Janjua said.