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Canadian Urbanism Uncovered

The joy of riding a new transit route

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New route #33This will be hard to explain to the non-transit fan, as well as those who still insist on driving everywhere in their horseless carriages. What is it that’s so enjoyable about taking a new transit route? The #33 is the first new bus route in Vancouver since the #84 was added in January of 2006. It connects UBC to 29th Avenue SkyTrain station along W 16th Ave, Cambie St, and E 33rd Ave. In TransitFan’s opinion, this new connection has been long overdue. Anyone wanting to travel from east to west was previously faced with a 15-block gap between West Broadway and King Edward Ave. While the primary reason for its existence seems to be to lighten the load on the 99 B-Line and other east-west routes, which continue to run at capacity during peak hours, it’s a welcome addition to the network for those who live along it. Hopefully ridership numbers will prove that it’s not only UBC students that are riding this route so that service can be added on weekends. TransitFan has found himself taking the new #33 route for no good reason at all, just to savour the experience. It’s exciting to think that one bus will take me from UBC to Queen Elizabeth Park, get me to Cambie Village, or just allow me to take a different route from east to west than the Broadway corridor. True transit fans also enjoy plotting out their routes before heading out the door, to the minute if possible. An extreme version of this can be seen in the classic Monty Python ‘Railway Timetables’ sketch. Thoughts go through my head like which route will be quicker? Should I try a different path to see some more of the city? Or if it’s a nice day – maybe I’ll take one bus and walk the rest of the way? If you haven’t tried Google Transit yet, it is a godsend to those of us who plan trips around transit like this. Riding transit through a neighbourhood is also a completely different experience from being in a car. Buses and streetcars make continual stops to pick up and drop off passengers, so your average speed is lower. While some may see this as a negative, on the positive side it allows one to really look at the neighbourhoods one is driving through. This is especially true if you are normally the driver, where your focus is mainly in front of you, and the view out the side windows is just a blur. Taking transit allows you the ability to gaze out at the passing scenery, taking in everything going by. Another great thing about riding a transit route is that you get a glimpse into the lives of the people along the route: who lives there, where they’re going, and what they’re up to in their daily lives (if you – ahem – happen to be eavesdropping on a conversation). I was surprised at the number of nannies working in the West Side, particularly between Granville and Dunbar. This is something you don’t find out about when you’re shielded away in a GHG emission machine. The #33 is a bit schizophrenic in that except for those going to UBC, most passengers seems to be riding either between Dunbar and Cambie or between Cambie and 29 Avenue station. There is almost a complete turnover of passengers in the middle of the route. It’s great that the route runs the length of Cambie Village, since it doubles the odds of catching a bus on this busy section. I recorded some video near that part of the route for anyone who hasn’t ridden it yet. A warning – it’s not exciting! It was also on a rainy day, so visibility wasn’t great. But it will give you a flavour for the route at least: 1) Westbound on Midlothian Ave, with Queen Elizabeth Park on the left. 2) Northbound on Cambie Street between the Park and King Edward Ave. You can see the new King Edward SkyTrain station at the end of the video. 3) Westbound on 16th Ave, coming up to Granville St.

** John Calimente is the president of Rail Integrated Developments. He supports great mass transit, cycling, walking, transit integrated developments, and non-automobile urban life. Click here to follow TheTransitFan on Twitter.