Translink is the GVR’s transit system. I found it a tad intimidating at first glance since fares are based on date, time, and zone, but a closer look at the system made me realise that it’s not confusing in the least. Moreover, like Ottawa’s OC Transpo, Translink offers an excellent online travel planner which sets out the route to take and the fare needed, making it easy for the first time rider to get around. I decided to try going to work for a week with public transit before deciding if I need to move or not since a booklet of ten fares (five round trips) is cheaper than buying the same number of fares individually.
First step today was to find a fare dealer, which I did without too much trouble since the Translink website provides this information with a link straight to Google Maps.
Next step was to get to the Park ‘n Ride. I was glad to be starting work in the afternoon since this would give me a good idea of whether or not I would be able to find parking at 7:30ish in the morning. There was tons of space at 11:30, so I’m confident there will be parking at rush hour.
The bus driver this morning was rude. I presented my ticket and said it was my first time; so he showed me how to ‘validate’ it. That done, I asked if I needed a transfer and he snottily replied that I was holding it. *rolls eyes*
The bus ride felt very long because it was stop and go the whole way, but took only about 25 minutes. My instructions told me to transfer at ‘Surrey Central Station’ but by the time we got to ‘King George Station’ I’d had enough of the bus and decided to get onto the Skytrain a station early.
The Skytrain is a light rail system that reminds me of the El in Chicago in that you mostly travel several stories above ground, but occasionally descend to street level. I was surprised to learn that these trains do not have operators! The trip to my stop took only about five minutes. Work being in the same building at the station, I could have been at the office within five minutes of arrival, but had left home so early I had forty-five minutes to kill, so I had lunch first. Now that I know I can rely on public transit and that there is flexibility in arrival times (because of traffic, for example), I won’t give myself such a huge window of time. Tomorrow, I’m aiming to take a 7:41 bus in South Surrey to get me to work for 8:20.
So, yes, I got the job. I went in this afternoon to sign some papers and was put to work straight away. I’m glad since I was ready to hit the ground running. Some of the job entails basic office clerking duties like doing the mail and answering phones, but most of it seems quite challenging and diverse enough to keep me busy and interested. I’m very optimistic about how this will turn out, but not as naive as I was in October. :\ Another thing for which I’m glad is that the dress code is relaxed, so my every day clothes are perfectly appropriate. It helps that I favour skirts, which look dressier than slacks.
I was so focused on arriving at work on time today that I forgot to plan for my trip home! I made it back to King George Station easily, but lost a lot of time finding my bus stop. It is idiotically situated in that you need to walk a block, cross a busy highway with long lights, then walk back down that same block. Tomorrow, I will try to get home from Surrey Station and see if that’s easier. I made it to the bus stop just in time to see my bus drive away, so I had to wait ten minutes for the next one, which did not go all the way to the Park ‘n Ride. I was frozen solid by then, so I decided to take that bus to another exchange point and from there finally managed to catch the bus that would take me to the Park ‘N Ride. I would have made it home in about an hour and a half had I not stopped for groceries.
Fare tickets work differently if you start on the Skytrain. You need to validate your ticket at a machine (which I almost forgot to do, causing me to miss a train) and then revalidate it on each bus you take after. If you start on a bus, then you just validate your ticket there and hold on to it in case a Translink employee on the Skytrain wants to see it.
My goal is to cut my transit time to an hour door to door, but I think I’m being extremely optimistic and that 1 hour 20 minutes is more realistic. I saw an RV park very close to King George Station and I’m going to check it out this weekend. That said, it’s not exactly in the best part of town and looks run down, seeming like it caters to people who want to park for the very long term. For me to move, I need to find a place that is at least 50$ cheaper per month and which will cut my commute time by at least 15 minutes each way. I strongly doubt that will happen, but I’ll do my due diligence anyway. What irks me is that work is barely 30km away! All told, though, public transit will be significantly cheaper than would be driving and then paying for parking.
I very much like using public transportation if it is convenient. Some cities have better systems than others and some systems are incredibly complex for the uninitiated, but it can often be the best way to bypass traffic and parking issues while offering a glimpse of the city you are visiting. When you’re a solo traveler and always focused on your driving, it’s nice to be able to sit back and enjoy the scenery.
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