It’s Over! Vancouver Has ‘Sorriest Bus Stop’

Behold: The sorriest bus stop in (North) America!
Behold: The sorriest bus stop in (North) America!

It’s official! The sorriest bus stop in America is in … Canada!

The horrendous bus stop on the Lougheed Highway in Pitt Meadows, just outside of Vancouver, has won our annual contest, trouncing Cincinnati in a 58%-42% landslide.

Of course, there was a key mitigating factor.

During our three-day balloting, officials with the Southwest Ohio Regional Transit Agency told Streetsblog that they had removed their extremely sorry bus stop in our finals, forcing remaining voters to make a choice: vote for the lone existing sorry bus stop finalist or make a sentimental selection to anoint Cincy as the winner given that it was so bad that the agency was shamed into fixing it.

In the end, voters spoke clearly: Vancouver, your stop is the sorriest in North America.

Readers of this contest likely saw this coming weeks ago, when Streetsblog first pared down dozens of entries into our Sweet 16 finalists. There was something about Vancouver’s abomination that stood out. Maybe it was the sad guy in the white shirt. Maybe it was the ugly jersey barrier. Maybe it was just the desolation.

Its victories were profound: This TransLink stop beat Beverly Hills in the opener with 77% of the vote. Then it trounced San Rafael with 90% of the vote, and made it to the finals by beating its Final Four challenger, Pittsburgh, by 59%-41% — a victory that led to a round of media coverage up north, with CBC  and the Vancouver Courirer doing their own stories about this sorry stop.

Final Sorry Bus Vote
The final vote!

Unlike SORTA, the British Columbia Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure has not taken action to fix the stop, blaming TransLink for its decision “to designate this a bus stop” in the first place. The ministry added, “It’s concerning to hear that people using this bus stop don’t feel safe, and appreciate that this photo has been brought to our attention. We are in the process of setting up meetings with TransLink … to see what we can do to make the bus stop more adequate.”

Jason Lee, who submitted this stop, told StreetsblogUSA reporter Angie Schmitt that the ministry should look in the mirror:

Immediately to the northwest of this stop is the Pitt River Bridge. In 2009, the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure completed a rebuilding of the bridge and an associated interchange at a cost of C$198 million. Just down the road in the opposite direction, the Ministry is currently creating an auxiliary lane – ostensibly to improve safety for commercial vehicles leaving a rail yard – at a cost C$6.2 million. Despite spending over C$200 million on this section of Lougheed Highway, there did not seem to be sufficient resources to improve safety for pedestrians and transit riders.

Lee was a tireless champion for making sure this sorry stop earned its badge of (dis)honor. His nominating petition provided ample evidence — even rainfall statistics! — that went far beyond a mere picture of a sad guy in the white shirt standing at a sorry stop. Lee wrote:

Lougheed Highway is a major arterial linking Vancouver’s exurbs with its inner-ring suburbs. It is also one of the most dangerous in British Columbia — ranking second in the entire province with 33 fatal crashes over the 10-year period between 2004 and 2013. … Bus stop 61452, located in the westbound direction of Lougheed Highway and Old Dewdney Trunk Road, is a major safety hazard. At that point, Lougheed Highway consists of four lanes in each direction (one of which is a bus lane), with speeds of 50 mph or higher. The bus stop pole is located atop a jersey barrier, which serves as a buffer between speeding cars and the edge of the roadway. Transit riders are forced to either a) wait on the other side of the jersey barrier, and then climb over it when the bus arrives, or b) wait on the highway side of barrier, directly exposed to traffic. Riders in wheelchairs must wait on the highway side of the barrier. The roadway can also be slick; that part of British Columbia’s Lower Mainland receives nearly 58 inches of precipitation per year, most of it concentrated during the dark winter months. This bus stop is a disaster waiting to happen. In my three decades of riding transit, I have never seen a bus stop designed like this. During my journey on the 701 less than two weeks ago, I saw a group of people climb over the jersey barrier to get on the bus. They appeared to be non-English speakers who were carrying buckets of berries they had harvested, captive riders who could easily have become the latest victims of speeding cars along Lougheed Highway.

That’s a sorry bus stop and certainly worthy of this great victory loss. But before we let everyone in Vancouver crack open the Champagne Molsons, let’s take one more longing look at just how bad the Cincinnati bus stop was…before SORTA fixed it:

The runner up is really bad, too.
The runner up is really bad, too.
  • exit2lef

    The misleading headline says this bus stop is in Vancouver. The slightly less misleading text of the article says “just outside Vancouver.” The reality is that Pitt Meadows is over 30 km from Vancouver proper and separated from the city by several suburbs. This bus stop is certainly inadequate, but it’s neither fair nor accurate to attribute this exurban mistake to a city that has better public transit, as well as bike / ped infrastructure, than most others in North America.

  • POCOisNext

    It’s a scary spot.

    In the last year or two a car did crash into that barrier where the Pitt Meadows bus stop is and moved the barrier in the collision. Fortunately no one was standing there at the time.

    When the gravel trucks turn right on that corner heading towards Coquitlam they shed gravel from their loads and then it gets kicked up by speeding traffic from time to time hitting people waiting for the bus.

    Standing there in the scorching heat of summer with the sun heating the concrete isn’t fun but isn’t as bad as when visibility there is poor.

    During and after moderate or heavy rain you get a constant light spray of water coming off the passing traffic … when the water pools from rain or melting snow you sometimes get splashed. The barrier can be dirty too so whether or not you’re concerned about ripping your pants they might not be as clean as they were when you first got to the stop compared to when you board the bus (and you’ll want to wash your hands…) if you jumped over the barrier.

    Waiting there at dawn and dusk and in the dark (which is often during rush hour in winter) makes it hard for anyone to see you, including the bus driver.

    Traffic is often in the bus lane at high speeds to race through once the light turns green – drivers try to merge speedily in front of others who were waiting in the proper lanes back at the intersection.

    If it is icey or the road is slick and you see a car fishtailing towards you … you can’t help but wonder if you’re going to have to jump back over the barrier in an instant. Occasionally the bus driver misjudges and drives too far right, pulling out of the bus lane and too close to where you’re standing.

    One of the two buses that service this location (and this stop does get used – many of the people who use it have to walk long distances just to get to this stop – asking them to keep walking ’til they are up and over the bridge and further… isn’t reasonable bus service, especially in the cold wind and rain/snow of winter – walking across the Pitt River bridge in icey weather can be brutal) is the Braid Station 791 which continues on to the Mary Hill Bypass through Port Coquitlam. Here you’ll find next year’s likely nominees for worst bus stops:

    Kingsway – on the Mary Hill Bypass heading towards Braid Station

    Broadway – on the Mary Hill Bypass heading towards Pitt Meadows

    In both cases if you are at the intersection heading towards the bus stop you are walking with your back to high speed traffic only to be left standing next to a concrete barrier with no place to jump to if a car comes speeding into the barrier. (Kudos to anyone if they want to put the overhead and/or street view of these two stops in a reply).

    Why are people reluctant to complain about scary bus stops – because they are even more terrified that the bus stops will simply be removed rather than upgraded for safety. Already the Broadway/Mary Hill Bypass intersection only has a bus stop going in one direction – one is sorely needed on the other side of the street as currently you have to go all the way to the next stop towards Braid Station, cross the street, then board another bus to get back to Broadway…).

    If there was an Olympic podium for sorry bus stops the 791 Braid Station Bus would win Gold Silver and Bronze for the three stops mentioned above – if anyone from Translink is reading this please do upgrade these 3 stops for safety!

    If there are traffic safety reasons why the Lougheed barrier can’t be modified, a possible solution for the Pitt Meadows stop would be to place the stop further towards the bridge where there is an existing gap in the barrier or to place it on the traffic island (like the one across the highway from it) and then upgrade both of the stops by putting railings up around the islands in the spots that pedestrians don’t use to add a safety barrier and then if feasible add a shelter with a bench. One can only dream.

  • tripleaardvark

    It is well within the boundaries of Metro Vancouver, Captain Technical.

  • POCOisNext

    It’s a scary spot.

    In the last year or two a car did crash into that barrier where the bus stop is and moved the barrier in the collision. Fortunately no one was standing there at the time.

    When the gravel trucks turn right on that corner heading towards Coquitlam they shed gravel from their loads and then it gets kicked up by speeding traffic from time to time hitting people waiting for the bus.

    Standing there in the scorching heat of summer with the sun heating the concrete isn’t fun but isn’t as bad as when visibility there is poor.

    During and after moderate or heavy rain you get a constant light spray of water coming off the passing traffic … when the water pools from rain or melting snow you sometimes get splashed. The barrier can be dirty too so whether or not you’re concerned about ripping your pants they might not be as clean as they were when you first got to the stop compared to when you board the bus (and you’ll want to wash your hands…) if you jumped over the barrier.

    Waiting there at dawn and dusk and in the dark (which is often during rush hour in winter) makes it hard for anyone to see you, including the bus driver.

    Traffic is often in the bus lane at high speeds to race through once the light turns green – drivers try to merge speedily in front of others who were waiting in the proper lanes back at the intersection.

    If it is icey or the road is slick and you see a car fishtailing towards you … you can’t help but wonder if you’re going to have to jump back over the barrier in an instant. Occasionally the bus driver misjudges and drives too far right, pulling out of the bus lane and too close to where you’re standing.

    One of the two buses that service this location (and this stop does get used – many of the people who use it have to walk long distances just to get to this stop – asking them to keep walking ’til they are up and over the bridge and further… isn’t reasonable bus service, especially in the cold wind and rain/snow of winter – walking across the Pitt River bridge in icey weather can be brutal) is the Braid Station 791 which continues on to the Mary Hill Bypass. Here you’ll find next year’s nominees for worst bus stops:

    Kingsway – on the Mary Hill Bypass heading towards Braid Station

    Broadway – on the Mary Hill Bypass heading towards Pitt Meadows

    In both cases if you are at the intersection heading towards the bus stop you are walking with your back to high speed traffic with no pull out lane only to be left standing next to a concrete barrier with no place to jump to if a car comes speeding into the barrier. (Kudos to anyone if they want to put the overhead and/or street view of these two stops in a reply).

    Why are people reluctant to complain about scary bus stops – because they are even more terrified that the bus stops will simply be removed rather than upgraded for safety. Already the Broadway/Mary Hill Bypass intersection only has a bus stop going in one direction – one is sorely needed on the other side of the street as currently you have to go all the way to the next stop towards Braid Station, cross the street, then board another bus to get back to Broadway…).

    If there was an Olympic podium for sorry bus stops the 791 bus route would win Gold Silver and Bronze for the three stops mentioned above – if anyone from Translink is reading this please do upgrade these stops for safety!

    If there are traffic safety reasons why the Lougheed barrier can’t be modified, a possible solution for the Pitt Meadows stop would be to place the stop further towards the bridge where there is an existing gap in the barrier or to place it on the traffic island (like the one across the highway from it) and then upgrade both stops by putting railings up around the islands in the spots that pedestrians don’t use to add a safety barrier and then if feasible add a shelter with a bench. One can only dream.

  • Pitt Meadows is part of the GVRD and the transit authority is Translink which is the same as City of Vancouver.

  • Ian W

    As @disqus_dAOPTUIvZe:disqus and @triple_aardvark:disqus have noted, it’s “Metro Vancovuer”, all managed/operated by Translink / Coast Mountain Bus Company.

    If you checked though, Cincinnati’s stop is not actually within Cincinnati either. It’s 11 miles from downtown Cincy, just outside the “city limits”, in Hamilton County. As detailed by @Tom Davis (http://disq.us/p/1vpo8na) in a prior voting round 9and elsewhere), there’s an adversarial relationship between the two governments. The location is rather a moot point, other than one stop being on a rural road with plenty of stops nearby and the other on a major freeway with no alternatives nearby. At least in Metro Vancouver, everyone claims to be on the same page, supporting mass transit and accessibility.

    The point is not how far away it is. Buses handled over 60% of Translink’s ridership, 2.5x Skytrain’s. Now they are spending another $3B+ on an extension. Let’s not forget to support funding for buses, adequate, safe and accessible bus stops that carry the load (to Skytrain).

    $3B+ would put a proper shelter (hey, it rains in Metro Vancouver, a lot), concrete pads, digital displays, garbage cans and benches at every stop in Vancouver, as well as add hundreds to buses and hours to the fleet. And that’s what we want: a better transit system for everyone.

  • I.R.H.

    Pitt Meadows might be #1 but everyone is a winner!

  • Bernard Finucane

    Standing on the wrong side of the barrier like that is illegal in Germany, and you can get a ticket for it.
    This is criminal negligence on the part of the road designers. They should be stripped of their engineering degrees and sent to jail. Seriously.

  • Dan

    In typical state DOT-like fashion, the provincial Ministry blames bus passengers for wanting a bus stop in the first place, not for the state of the road itself. And with a straight face.

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