Opinion: C-Tran’s decision to cut campus bus service is bad for students

In September C-Tran plans to remove the Washington State University Vancouver campus bus stop, and instead locate the nearest stop on 29th Ave. The new stop is a quarter mile away from some parts of campus. The C-Tran Board of Directors voted on the change earlier this month.

C-Tran received tons of letters from students, staff, faculty and community members pleading with them to not go through with these changes. At the hearing, students and faculty of WSU Vancouver gave testimonies explaining why removing the stop is a horrible idea.

My daily bus commute takes an hour and a half, while I only live a 15 minute drive away from campus. The nearest stop is a mile from my house, an annoying walk with a bag that is at least 30 lbs. In all, this gives me two miles of walking, plus lugging that heavy bag around campus all day. Now I get to add another half mile to my trek with this heavy bag, thanks to C-Tran.

I know people who have learned to drive in their mid-twenties and gotten cars because they do not want to spend multiple hours a day on the bus. Unfortunately that is not an option for everyone, myself included.

In the time I have been at WSU Vancouver, I have seen many disabled students on that bus. C-Tran claims that the disabled can use their C-Van, but they do not take into account that not everyone is disabled enough for C-Van. For a disabled person to qualify for C-Van, they have to be unable to take a regular bus on their own. Some people are even required to complete an in person evaluation of their disabled status in order to determine if they are disabled enough.

Therefore, if C-Tran does not think a student is disabled enough for C-Van, regardless of their capability of getting to campus from the new stop, they will still have to put their safety on the line in order to get an education. That is how much C-Tran cares about the Vancouver community.

Bus 19 has a completely ridiculous schedule as it is, making me 30 minutes early or 15 minutes late for everything, since C-Tran will not make their bus schedule sync with our classes. Now the schedule will make things even more difficult, because students will have to factor in their long walk from the bus stop. The busses also regularly arrive at campus a few minutes early. Often, instead of waiting to leave until their scheduled time like they should do, they leave right away. I have missed the bus because it came five minutes early countless times, and frequently see others miss it for the same reason.

The path that students will have to take to get to and from the stop is isolated, and poorly lit. This could potentially increase sexual harassment to students, because the area is so open and dark. While drivers can get security to escort them to their cars at night, I doubt they will be able to escort every student who feels unsafe to the bus stop; if they do, I know I will be grateful.

C-Tran claims that they are moving the stop so they can better serve the local medical clinics in the Salmon Creek area. It is unclear why they cannot expand service to the medical clinics while still serving campus, other than that they just do not want to do so. Apparently serving the only university in Vancouver is not important to C-Tran. However, Clark College has a minimum of four busses that service it, at least one of which runs every 15 minutes.

Every year I have seen C-Tran cut service to their routes. They usually claim they cannot afford to keep the route operating as it is, yet they can come up with the money to buy flashy new busses every year. They have somehow come up with the money for their Vine project on Fourth Plain, but they cannot continue stopping at WSU Vancouver. It seems to me that C-Tran cares about looking pretty, not about providing decent service. Personally, I would prefer old, filthy busses if it meant I could get to school in a reasonable amount of time.

Currently, there does not seem to be anything we can do to change C-Tran’s mind about this change. The flurry of emails begging them not to alter the route did not work, nor did the testimony at the meeting earlier this month. I will be watching to see if any opportunity comes up that has the potential to change this; I hope you will too.

Photo credit: C-Tran

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One Comment

  1. My son has special needs (high functioning autism) and will not be able to ever get a drivers license (too easily distracted). We live in Cascade Park, it takes him nearly 2 1/2 hours to get to the class he takes at WSU…now this? You’re right about bus 19 as well…he either arrives super early and too late! This is absolutely ridiculous!