Blog: A luggage rack arrives on a mainland ferry bus, and there is rejoicing

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One of the discomforts in riding public transit between Victoria and Vancouver via B.C. Ferries is the trouble caused by luggage. Many passengers board the buses with giant suitcases, backpacks, snowboards, skateboards, skis, and pet carriers (with pets inside). Aisles are blocked, seats are commandeered. Passengers get bumped by rolling luggage or smacked by someone wearing a backpack who dares to shift position. Things are all the more frantic because the buses are often packed, all the seats filled, all the aisle space occupied. It’s not always like this, but it happens enough to be a touch annoying.

But over the summer, there were signs of relief. Luggage racks started to appear on some of the Route 620 bendy buses which serve Tsawwassen ferry terminal.

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I didn’t spot one until October because they are still in test phase, installed on only a few buses. The one I saw takes up the space of roughly four seats. It is near the front of the bus, so that people will notice it upon boarding and, in theory, use it. People who ride this route are pretty much guaranteed to have luggage, since they’re going from one city to another.

A down side is the loss of seats. But, from some rough eyeballing, it looks like that’s more than made up for in freed space in the aisles. The rack is floor to ceiling and has three levels, so the space can accommodate more cubic feet of luggage than cubic feet of humans. You can’t stack passengers from floor to ceiling. Or, at least, there’d be some objecting if you did.

After the luxury of the luggage rack in Metro Vancouver, you’ll find that on the Victoria side there’s no such thing. Double-deckers usually serve the downtown to Swartz Bay ferry terminal run via Routes 70 (express) and 72 (wanderer). There’s makeshift luggage space, but not much of it, at the front of the bus. One spot is a small flat surface atop a wheel well which can take three or four suitcases. People also pile their luggage onto the floor in an area that’s meant for strollers and wheelchairs, or they block the aisles and the back door.

The double-decker drivers often tell people that large luggage is not permitted upstairs, and any bags must be on your lap. But that guidance is regularly ignored. I’ve been seatmates with people lugging big luggage. It’s no fun. But I pretend that everything’s fine.  

Update: After riding a couple of packed Tsawwassen buses, with plenty of people lugging big luggage, I've noticed that some passengers are very possessive about their stuff. They don't want to leave their suitcase on the rack and then go sit somewhere where they can't see it. Many people are using the rack, especially if they have giant luggage. But the aisles are still cluttered, though a little less so, because people want to keep their luggage within reach.

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