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99 B-line cyclist highlights congestion on North America’s busiest bus route

UBC student rides message about 99 B-Line congestion
A UBC student is incorporating his message about the need for more transit funding into his daily commute, hoping to spark a conversation about congestion. Kristen Robinson reports.

A UBC student is commuting to and from classes with a message he hopes will spark a conversation about congestion and the need for more transit funding.

Along the busy Broadway corridor, cyclist Ashcon Partovi is hard to miss: the sign on his backpack reads “99 BUS FULL,” a daily reality for hundreds of commuters.

“There have been a couple of times where I have been on the bus packed like a sardine,” said the third-year business and computer science student.

READ MORE: North Shore to SkyTrain express bus service could hit the road next year

“Every year more and more people get on the bus, and we have nowhere else to go.”

The 99 B-Line to and from UBC is Metro Vancouver’s highest ridership route and as far as TransLink knows, the busiest bus route in North America.

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The route recorded 17,414,000 annual boardings in 2018, with an average of 55,900 daily boardings Monday to Friday.

Of the route’s 525 one-way trips each weekday last year, 28 per cent were overcrowded — meaning the bus was over its passenger capacity at some point along the way.

“It’s a shame we’ve let it get that bad,” said Partovi.

READ MORE: TransLink to boost service on dozens of overcrowded routes

According to TransLink, the practical capacity is 50 riders on a standard 12-metre bus and 75 passengers on an articulated 18-metre bus but “buses can sometimes fill to 20 per cent over practical capacity before the driver decides to turn on the ‘Sorry Bus Full’ sign and pass up riders.”

TransLink Mayor’s Council debate overcrowding concerns
TransLink Mayor’s Council debate overcrowding concerns

Tired of waiting in line, Partovi decided to start cycling in protest to highlight what he sees as a lack of funding for transit projects.

“Were only building the SkyTrain halfway to UBC and really, that’s not acceptable,” said Partovi.

READ MORE: Transit use setting records in Metro Vancouver

Partovi wants to see action now on investing in the future of public transportation, and is hoping his message will get the government’s attention.

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“The province has been talking about their transport 2050 plan but we need a transport today plan and transport five years from now,” Partovi told Global News.

“I hope that when people look at the sign they realize that these issues are really serious and we need our people in the government to step up and help solve them.”