Saturday, October 3, 2009

Scoop! The True Nature of Fredericton Bus Station's "Shuttle Service"

As this is not a news blog and I am not a reporter, I never expected that I'd ever be able to scoop the local papers. But the improbable has happened, and quite by accident. All I did was make a phone call. Amazingly, I've even scooped Charles LeBlanc.

It's big news in Fredericton that the bus terminal has been forced to move from its handy downtown location to some awkward spot in an industrial park. Indeed, there has been widespread anger and protesting. It's no secret that this has happened because Irving owns the land that the bus terminal was on, just as Irving owns a frightening percentage of New Brunswick soil, and they booted Acadian Bus off the spot so that they can build a parking garage. But this post is not about the ugliness of replacing a bus station with a parking garage at a time when everyone is supposed to be so keenly aware of the need to slow climate change. It's not about the weakness of every level of government in this province and how they let the Irvings do whatever they want and never lift a finger to stop them. Believe me, I could do a long and heated rant about that if I wanted to. But that's not what this post is about.

It's about the alleged shuttle service. Both the CBC and The Daily Gleaner reported that for the first two weeks of the move, there would be a shuttle service to take passengers to the new location. Sounds good, but nobody reporting the story gave any details about this shuttle service and when it would run.

So I phoned the bus terminal and asked, "When does the shuttle bus run?"

There was silence. I elaborated on the fact that there was supposed to be (as I'd understood it) a shuttle bus to take people from the old location to the new.

"There's no shuttle bus," said the man on the phone.

"Oh, because they said on the news that there was--"

"What there is," he explained, "is two guys with a van, and they're there for people who show up downtown and didn't know we'd moved."

In other words, there isn't a shuttle service. If you're aware that the station moved--which you will be if you heard about the "shuttle service" in the first place--that van's not for you. Oh, maybe they'll be nice and give you a ride anyway. After all, New Brunswickers are nice people, and besides, it's got to be boring sitting there in a van all day. They'll want something to do. But it's not for you. No, it's for the probably-nonexistent person who lives under a rock and never gets news or talks to anybody and consequently heard nothing about the move.

You heard it here first. Great reportage, CBC and Gleaner!

If you enjoyed this bit of mockery aimed at our fine institutions of journalism, you may also appreciate my short post on a CBC host's musical difficulties.

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