Recently there have been some changes to the St. Catharines transit system that just aren’t sitting right with a lot of people. Being a university city, St. Catharines has a lot of people — majority being students — who rely on the bus to get from point A to point B. But when getting around becomes difficult, day to day routines can become difficult too.
I was generally used to waking up about an hour before class started, taking my time getting organized, and running out to catch whatever number 16 bus happened to pass next. That doesn’t work so much anymore. The double buses that used to make every trip up and down Glenridge from the downtown terminal to Brock are now constantly packed. What makes it a lot worse is that they aren’t even articulated buses anymore and the capacity is a lot less. When so many people are making the commute from downtown to main campus everyday, it can be a struggle to squeeze on when you’re in a rush.
I don’t know why they decided to change the 16, but it doesn’t work very well for me, and I’m sure there are others who can agree. Sure, it comes a bit more often than it did in previous years, but that’s still no matter when you can be standing outside for 40 minutes waiting for a non-packed bus to finally make its way to your stop.
The problem isn’t only with the 16, though. Between that and the continuing confusion of what the difference between the 36 and the 35 are is frustrating. I know they’re different but the numbers are just so and the routes end up at the same place. It was easier when the 122 existed. In fact, St. Catharines Transit Commission changed 11 of their routes or bus numbers in September. Okay, it’s been months, but it takes some getting used to when you’ve been depending on it’s stability for so long.
The 36, which runs from Brock to the Pen Centre and is highly popular for both those living on and off campus, used to have the odd double bus on it’s route, which definitely came in handy at peak hours when it seemed like hundreds of kids needed to get to the Pen or just home to escape campus. So while I understand that there are tons of people who rely on the extra space, it’s difficult when those taking the 16 in the middle (or at any time) of the day are all jammed into a little bus while 10 people can be seen on the 36 at any given time.
The 16 bus is also the only bus at this point that runs from main campus straight downtown. It serves those living downtown, those attending the Marilyn I. Walker School and anyone else living along the Glenridge line. It’s a long run. The stress of that ride used to be broken up by the Brock Bullet. Strictly making only two stops — Brock main campus and the downtown terminal — the Bullet used to alleviate some of the weight that the 16 must now bear. That is, unless you want to take an extra bus or two and make your commute that much longer.
There are only eight buses that make the trip to the bus loop at Brock. Of those eight, the ones that are shuttling the most students the most often don’t have the most space and I honestly find that strange. However, the ones that currently have the articulated buses are running to heavily residential neighbourhoods. Taking this into consideration, there should be tons of students making their way to and from campus at any given time. But there isn’t. Like the 36, the 23 West-Brock-Commuter is rarely busy but still has this long bus running back and forth all day.
It can be a struggle to get up and go to class for a lot of people. Throw in an unreliable bus system and it really makes the effort you put into leaving the house seem worthless sometimes.