Students create petition to get 480 bus back

A group of UBC students have started a petition to get TransLink to reinstate the 480 bus route after the transit organization announced plans to permanently suspend the line.

Earlier this month, Translink said the 480 “will not be returning to service” after it suspended the route — which ran directly from Bridgeport Station in Richmond to UBC — in 2020 due to low ridership and financial losses caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

James Yu and Jacky Xue, two UBC students from Richmond who created the petition, said the continued suspension of the 480 has made commute times longer for students travelling from Richmond, Delta and Surrey.

For Yu, who took the 480 to campus before the pandemic, his commute time has gone from around 50 to 80 minutes now that he needs to take two buses and the Canada Line to get to campus.

In a statement sent to The Ubyssey, a spokesperson for TransLink said the 480 continues to be discontinued because there are high-frequency alternatives for people travelling from Richmond to UBC like the Canada Line and R4 bus route — which was launched in January 2020.

“The discontinuation allows us to put service on other routes with higher demand,” the spokesperson added.

But, Xue said the absence of a 480 route makes these alternative routes more congested than before.

“[The Canada Line] is filled with commuters trying to get from Richmond to downtown every day. And then the R4 also has reliability issues … because I've heard people say that many R4 buses pass by everyday because they're just too full,” they said.

“The 480 bus would essentially take passengers off of the most congested corridors.”

As of April 27, 347 people have signed the petition. Yu and Xue are hoping for 500 signatures, a goal similar to the number of signatures on a petition that was successful in getting TransLink to announce plans to reinstate the 258 bus route earlier this year.

The reinstated 258 route will involve extending the routes of certain 44 buses to West Vancouver throughout the day.

Along with the petition, Yu said he is planning to speak at the April 27 Mayor’s Council meeting to raise awareness around this issue, while Xue said they were reaching out to local high schools who have been impacted by the suspension.

The pair also hope UBC and the AMS help with their advocacy, noting that the AMS helped push against a proposal to cut the 480 bus route during peak hours in 2017.

Krista Falkner, a manager of Transportation Engineering at UBC Campus and Community Planning, said UBC has had conversations with TransLink about the impact of suspending the 480, but that the transit group has pointed to the Canada Line and R4 as a “good alternative.”

The Ubyssey did not hear from the AMS before publishing time for comment on this story.

Yu and Xue also said the continued suspension of the 480 is an equity issue as bus routes like the 44 from elsewhere in Metro Vancouver are restarted.

“They sort of now have two direct services to UBC whereas we still have sort of nothing in place,” said Yu. “So it's kind of like Richmond and all the south Fraser communities that used to connect at Bridgeport to the 480 have been kind of left behind.”