Night bus to Surrey now runs all night

Riders had urged later SkyTrain runs but extended N19 hours create region's first 24-hour service

TransLink's N19 night bus mirrors the route of the Expo SkyTrain line from downtown Vancouver to Surrey Central station. Its hours have been extended to fully cover the early morning hours when SkyTrain doesn't run.

All-night SkyTrain it is not.

But TransLink has extended its night bus service between Vancouver and Surrey to fully cover the gap between the last SkyTrain out of downtown at 1:16 a.m. until the rapid transit line restarts in the morning.

“It creates the first 24-hour service on the Vancouver-Surrey route,” according to Coast Mountain Bus Co. president Haydn Acheson.

The last run of the N19, which mirrors the Expo Line route, used to be at 3:30 a.m. on weekends. Late night revellers and shift workers who missed it faced a wait of up to four hours for the first morning SkyTrain from downtown home to the eastern suburbs.

The N19 buses out of downtown now run until 6:09 a.m. Saturday mornings and 7:09 on Sundays – about 40 minutes before the first morning SkyTrain.

N19 frequency also increased in September to every 20 minutes from 1:39 a.m. to 4:09 every day and every 30 minutes after that on weekends, although some of those buses terminate in New Westminster rather than continuing to Surrey.

Acheson said the decision to increase frequency, both on the N19 and other night bus routes, is to address overcrowding and passups that were happening due to heavy demand on Friday and Saturday nights.

TransLink had been under pressure from downtown Vancouver bar owners to improve the service.

Passengers have repeatedly demanded later SkyTrain service.

An online petition circulated on Facebook in August called for SkyTrain to run until 3:10 a.m., after Vancouver bars close.

At least one of the campaigners declared the extended night bus service a victory, while others vowed to keep pushing for later SkyTrain runs.

TransLink says SkyTrain must shut down each night to allow crews to perform maintenance.

One advantage night buses have over SkyTrain is that passengers can request a special stop between regular ones, as long as it’s a location the driver considers safe.

But not everyone enjoys the party bus vibe.

“The last N19 bus of any night is a lawless freak show on wheels,” tweeted passenger Vanessa Dee. “If someone decided to drive it into the face of the sun, I’d understand.”