British Columbia

TransLink extends Bowen Island bus contract

Bowen Island express bus brings passengers to and from downtown Vancouver in less than an hour

The Bowen Express will continue to take customers from Horseshoe Bay to downtown and back

Passengers on board the Bowen Express which transports commuters from the island at Horseshoe Bay and takes them to downtown Vancouver. (Peter King)

Commuting from downtown Vancouver from Bowen Island is less of a headache than commuting from some other areas of the Lower Mainland, thanks to a bus service that has now been renewed for another year by TransLink.

The Bowen Express meets commuters from the island at Horseshoe Bay and takes them to downtown Vancouver and back every weekday morning and afternoon.

"It's a game changer," founder Peter King told Rick Cluff on The Early Edition.

"People get to work earlier, they get home early. They're home for dinner with the family, rather than leftovers."

King said he can get commuters downtown in an average of under 25 minutes, making use of bus express lanes to access the Lions Gate Bridge He said that with the ferry time included a commuter can leave Vancouver and be back on Bowen Island in 45 minutes.

Fewer people taking their cars over

King formed this service in January when BC Ferries contacted him to provide a bus service for the four-month period during which the Queen of Capilano was in re-fit and couldn't transport as many vehicles from Bowen Island.

Now TransLink has approved the contract that will allow the non-subsidized Bowen Express to continue operating for another year.

The bus service that has now been renewed for another year by TransLink. (Peter King)

"People walk over on the ferry and they catch the bus downtown and they save time and they save money," King said.

"It's a comfortable ride, they have their friends on the bus, and they chat all the way downtown."

A sense of community on the bus

Along with smart phone-charging stations on board, the bus service uses the free Glympse app so users can track the bus in real-time. 

King said this app was one of several suggestions from his customers. Another passenger organized a scheduled water-taxi service between the island and the mainland.

There is also a Facebook page for the express bus, with users leaving comments about the bus' schedule and praising King for his efforts.

One user wrote, "BRAVO Mr. Bus King. I am among the legions who really appreciate what you've done for our commute, at great expense of your time and finances."

The sense of community the bus provides is one of the main reasons why King, the sole driver of the Bowen Express, enjoys what he does, despite the long hours.

"I've been driving 35 years and this is the best thing going," King said. "It's wonderful to see the satisfied customers, smiling faces, the conversations on board, and the suggestions that come forward from people."

King said he believes this could make a big difference in the small island community, which is becoming an increasingly attractive place for people to live.

"One of the first things you look at when you want to locate somewhere is access ... and we've got real estate on the island that's affordable," King said.

To hear more click on the audio labelled: TransLink extends Bowen Island bus contract