Students call for better communication as University Boulevard bus loop closure nears two months

The 4 and 14 buses have suspended service to UBC since April 19 due to ongoing construction along University Boulevard.

As a result, the 4 and 14 buses have been temporarily rerouted to the Blanca bus loop. While students can transfer to either the 99 B-Line, 84 or 44 bus routes at the Blanca St stop on University Boulevard, this detour has caused disruptions for students, especially those that rely on the 4 or 14 to return to campus from downtown at later hours.

UBC Facilities initially said the bus loop would be closed until May 1 due to multiple construction projects in the area. This includes construction work on the School of Biomedical Engineering and Gateway Health building, as well as a utility steam tunnel repair.

An update on May 1 stated the closure would be extended to May 15, but a recent message said the closure would last until “early June.” According to the Translink website, the detour will continue until June 20.

Students are concerned about the lack of access to reliable information regarding the closure.

Laura Schneider, a third-year student in the Faculty of Arts, said communications from UBC “felt pretty sparse.”

James Graham, a fifth-year computer science student, echoed this, sharing that he had been late to scheduled events multiple times due to the lack of information.

Graham and Schneider both said online map apps sometimes indicated that these buses were still running to UBC, which added to their confusion.

“Every time I wanted to go downtown or come back, I would just take my way through and hope I got there,” Schneider said.

The TransLink app has since been updated to show the 4 and 14 detours in effect.

Carolina Diaz, a third-year international relations student, said she had difficulties returning to campus from downtown as well. Diaz described multiple times where she took the 14 towards UBC without being aware of the detour and then had to transfer between multiple buses.

Michael White, associate vice president of Campus and Community Planning, wrote in a statement to The Ubyssey that UBC is actively working with stakeholders to “minimize the impacts of road improvement and utility projects.”

White noted that extensions to the closure were caused by unanticipated technical issues in two large projects, but didn’t specify what these issues were or what projects they were associated with.

While Schneider, Graham and Diaz were able to find workarounds with different bus routes, they were unanimous in voicing their desire for better communication from UBC.

“I do think it would be nice to get a little more from UBC,” Graham said. “Like, just a heads-up email.”

“I would like for them to tell us … [that] these two very important lines of buses have been closed. And then also, for how long,” Diaz said, echoing Graham’s support for an email.

In the future, Schneider hopes to see more signage regarding such closures, such as maps with more detailed information and alternative bus routes.

“I don’t think I ever fully figured it out,” admitted Schneider, who has moved home for the summer, “I feel like there were some signs … saying the bus stop got moved to ‘this place.’ Unless [I’m] a local … I literally don’t know where that place is.”

When asked about communications from UBC, White said in an email statement that Campus and Community Planning keeps residents updated through social channels, including a map on its website showing potential transportation impacts.

One of the construction projects in the area is now complete, allowing “better access to the area,” including deliveries, residential access and visitor access. However, the bus loop remains closed indefinitely.

“We anticipate that the repairs will be completed soon,” White wrote.