Maple Ridge bus routes in jeopardy

The River Road section of Route C-48 could be removed as early as next year.  - Colleen Flanagan/THE NEWS
The River Road section of Route C-48 could be removed as early as next year.
— image credit: Colleen Flanagan/THE NEWS

It didn't take long for recycling depot executive-director Kim Day to get busy after hearing of possible cuts to bus service in Maple Ridge.

She was on the phone early Thursday after hearing from one of her workers that those cuts could include route C-48, which runs along River Road and takes employees to the Maple Ridge Recycling Depot in Albion Industrial Area.

"I haven't heard back yet," she said.

"I'm sure it's a big concern for other businesses along this street as well."

Twitter posts started popping up early Thursday about possible cuts to bus service taking effect next year as TransLink looks to pare its expenses during its most recent funding crunch.

Coast Mountain Bus spokesperson Derek Zabel confirmed that the C-48 service along River Road could go, with the changes taking effect early next year.

However, an open house in Maple Ridge next month will sound out the public's thoughts.

"This is just the plan that we've drawn up. People will have the opportunity to share their opinions with us when we have the open house."

Zabel said Coast Mountain, a TransLink affiliate, is considering eliminating the River Road portion, south of the Lougheed Highway, of the C-48 community shuttle route.

Instead, it's thinking of extending the C-48 route to the fast-growing Albion area, specifically on to McClure Drive near Samuel Robertson Technical secondary. The new C-48 route would then connect to the Port Haney West Coast Express station.

Zabel said the C-48 route used to connect to the Albion ferry before it was shut down in 2009, but the numbers have consistently remained low. "Historically, it hasn't been a very busy route," he added.

"There's not a lot out there. They're going through some pretty rural areas."

At peak times, the shuttle has between five to 14 passengers, he said. It runs now only every two hours, five times a day, starting at 10 a.m.

Coast Mountain is also considering removing the Thornhill, or southerly portion of route C-49, which runs along Dewdney Trunk Road to 284th Street. At peak times, the C-49 only carries between eight and 12 passengers.

Zabel said the two routes are among the "lowest performing in the entire [Coast Mountain Bus] system."

Coast Mountain is also considering one other change, turning the C-41 route, which runs every half hour in Pitt Meadows, into a loop route that runs every hour, so people can get back to where they came from.

A Coast Mountain Bus driver whose routes are in eastern part of the district said on one of those routes, the shuttle is usually full when it completes its run into downtown Maple Ridge.

But as a driver, there's little that can be done to influence Coast Mountain Bus scheduling decisions.

"We can't change it. It has to come from the public," she said, adding she'll try to contact Whonnock residents to see if they want to talk to Mayor Ernie Daykin.

"We need so much service in Maple Ridge. We're not getting it as it is. We can't afford to lose any more."

Day said she wants to learn exactly what the reductions will be before she can figure out how it will affect the 64 employees who work at the centre. Not all take the bus to get to work.

About 30 people with developmental disabilities are among the recycling depot's workforce, after Community Living B.C. recently renewed a supported work program with Ridge Meadows recycling.

"I'll get the mayor and everybody else involved because we need that bus service."

About half of the $98 million in annual efficiencies spelled out in TransLink's new base plan come from further cost cutting – mostly in bus operations and maintenance – with the rest coming from revenue gains.

TransLink finalizes its plan in November after the independent TransLink Commissioner scrutinizes it.

Further cuts could come next year if area mayors rescind a $30-million property tax hike assumed in the plan and no replacement source is approved by the province.

– with files from @Jeff Nagel


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