KSA offers shelter to commuters

Student association approves $350,000 for new transit shelters.

Student association approves $350,000 for new transit shelters.

By Sam Lego

Commuting for Kwantlen students is about to become a bit drier with the newly approved transit and shuttle bus shelters around campus.

The Kwantlen Student Association (KSA) has approved $350,000 for the building of shuttle and transit shelters to further accommodate students using the MultiPass and inter-campus shuttle bus.

Currently, waiting students are either forced to stand inside with no visual indicators of the shuttle’s arrival, or outside facing inclement weather.

“Regardless of weather, they’re just going to be standing there,” says the KSA’s director of student services, Arzo Ansary.

KSA shuttle at KPU’s Surrey Campus (Sarah Schuchard/The Runner)

The shelters, slotted to be built starting later this year, will be located at all of the KPU campuses.

Funding allocated from the existing MultiPass reserves will be used to build three covered stops at the Surrey, Langley and Cloverdale campuses at $16, 000 each, according to figures provided at the Aug. 7 KSA council meeting.

The budget will also cover upgrades for up to two TransLink stops per campus at all except Langley. These shelters have been estimated to cost $50,000 – $100,000 per campus and will feature LED displays of bus arrival time estimates.

All told, students are looking at a potential bill of up to $348,000.

Benjamin Newsom, former MultiPass coordinator for the KSA, believes these covered shelters will benefit those using public transit and Kwantlen transport indelibly.

“It’s a service students are using … I’d like to have better coverage for the winter, and help give people more information about when busses get here so they’re not sitting there guessing or staring at their watch.”

Upgrades of bus stops are complicated, as respective cities buy certain stops from TransLink. This will require collaboration between both the Richmond and Surrey engineering departments.

Inter-campus shelters will feature a seated bench and room for up to 10 people to stand underneath.

Services between campuses now run up to 15 hours a day and this future upgrade is correlated to the “exponential increase in the number of users of the campus shuttle,” says Ansary.

Since the implementation of the shuttle service in fall 2011 and the MultiPass in fall 2012, many students have turned to utilizing free transit options. According to Newsom, the Kwantlen shuttle transported an average of 1200 riders every week during the previous spring and fall semesters.

Along with rising numbers of shuttle users, Newsom says that “consistently, 70 per cent of the student population are picking up U-Pass cards every month.”

Although the spending has already been approved by the student association, Gaurav Kumar, the KSA’s director of finance, believes there are some concerns with the current proposal.

Thinking of potential instances of vandalism and damage done to the shelters, he cited future maintenance bills as something that needs to be considered.

Still acknowledging that shelters will be an asset to students, Kumar also said that he wants to “make this motion according to budget,” cutting it from $350,000 to $150,000.

“We really need shelters at the Richmond campus, but in Surrey the bus service is very good. After every six or seven minutes you can catch the 319 or the C75 or the 301. I don’t think it’s as beneficial to the Surrey campus as it is for Richmond,” says Kumar.

If building plans continue, the newly upgraded inter-campus shelters will be used to showcase shuttle schedules and advertisements for events and programs happening at KPU.