University Boulevard bus loop closed for second summer in a row

The University Boulevard trolley bus loop is closed for a utility construction project, impacting the 4, 9, 14 and N17 buses until early September.

In March, UBC posted a construction update announcing the partial closure of University Boulevard from April 17 to August 19. The closure is required for UBC to install a new line for the Academic District Energy System, connecting buildings to the university’s new hot water energy network.

During the closure, the 4 and 14 bus lines will end at Blanca Loop, immediately east of the UBC campus. For passengers travelling from UBC, they can board the 99 B-Line at the UBC Bus Exchange and transfer at the Blanca Loop. For passengers travelling to UBC, passengers can get off at the Blanca Loop and transfer to the 99 B-Line at the University Boulevard and Blanca Street stop.

The 99 B-Line will temporarily serve local stops in both directions along University Boulevard.

Passengers can also consider transferring to the 44 and 84 buses on West 4th Avenue and Blanca Street going to UBC or West 4th Avenue and Tolmie Street leaving UBC.

The 9 bus line will end at Alma Street as part of TransLink’s summer service changes. According to TransLink, there is lower demand to and from UBC during the summer months, so this summer service change happens annually.

The N17 bus will move to Bay 3 at the UBC Bus Exchange from the University Boulevard loop and continue operating on the same schedule.

UBC currently anticipates construction to end on August 19. Nonetheless, in a statement to The Ubyssey, TransLink confirmed the changes will remain until early September when fall service changes take effect.

Last summer, students criticized UBC for poor communication during a lengthy closure of University Boulevard for other construction projects. The closure was initially scheduled to end on May 1 but extended until mid-June.

This year, some community members expressed similar concerns that UBC did not do enough to inform them of the changes.

“I’m really frustrated because I rely on these buses to commute to campus .. the timing is especially bad because it’s during finals season,” said Alexander Kim, a third-year science student. “I didn’t hear about the changes from UBC, but from a Reddit post. With how many students will be impacted, I’m surprised UBC wasn’t more proactive.”

When asked what he would have liked to see from UBC, Kim suggested sending emails and using social media, rather than relying on the construction updates website.

Other students were more sympathetic, pointing to important benefits the construction project will create.

“While this adds 10–15 minutes to my commute … TransLink has provided an [acceptable] alternative,” said Maddie Helms, a first-year arts student. “As a student, I’m often calling on [UBC] to make investments in new buildings and climate action … then we have to deal with inconvenience from those projects.”

Helms agreed the construction website was not an effective way to communicate changes to students, but said there was clear signage from TransLink at the trolley loop about a week before the change went into effect.

In contrast to last summer, all students The Ubyssey spoke with said the changes were clearly reflected on the TransLink Trip Planner, Google Maps and other transit apps.