Solutions suggested for bus routes in Maple Ridge's boonies

Kierstan Duncan and Beryl Eales discuss changes to bus routes in east Maple Ridge at an open house on Thursday. - Phil Melnychuk/The News
Kierstan Duncan and Beryl Eales discuss changes to bus routes in east Maple Ridge at an open house on Thursday.
— image credit: Phil Melnychuk/The News

No one likes cuts to services, especially when it comes to being able to get around.

So when TransLink proposes to trim two bus routes in east Maple Ridge, people take notice, as about 20 residents did when they showed up to a TransLink open house in the Arts Centre Theatre, Thursday.

It wasn’t all negative reaction over proposed changes to two community shuttle runs C-48 and C-49 however.

They was also constructive solutions.

Why not adjust schedules so the C-48 arrivals coincides with class start times in local schools, asked Thornhill resident Beryl Eales. Doing so could increase ridership and provide dozens of kids a way home after school.

Former Samuel Robertson Technical student Kierstan Duncan liked the idea and said a properly scheduled bus could have taken her to class on time.

Coast Mountain Bus driver Laurie Pedersen had another suggestion.

Why not just extend the C-48 route farther east from Thornhill out to Whonnock, on an hourly loop circuit? On the return back to central Maple Ridge, the bus could  travel down 240th Street to the Lougheed Highway, she pointed out.

The C-49 serves east Maple Ridge from the Blue Mountain to Whonnock area, while the C-48 runs along 100th Avenue through Thornhill.

TransLink, though, is considering extending the C-48 route to the fast-growing Albion area, specifically on to McClure Drive near Samuel Robertson Technical secondary, while cutting service farther east along 100th Avenue. The new C-48 route would then connect to the Port Haney West Coast Express station.

It’s also proposing to cut the southerly portion of the C-49 route in Whonnock so the bus route is centred on Dewdney Trunk Road.

Blue Mountain Crescent resident Chris Wall pointed out the bus is often the only link for seniors to get into town. Seniors who risk the trip into town to get supplies have to carefully time their excursion so they don’t end up waiting hours for the return bus, while grabbing a cab into town can mean a $57 fare.

One way of increasing bus ridership would be to offer more park-and-ride services to bus riders, says Silver Valley resident Chris Muddy. For instance, opening up the parkade beneath the District of Maple Ridge municipal hall could encourage people to catch buses at the Haney Place Mall loop. Muddy is also still waiting for bus service to reach the new suburbs in Silver Valley.

“There are over 6,000 people up there,” Muddy said.

“We’ve been waiting for bus service for more than 20 years.”

Thornhill resident Stuart Pledge said he felt “kind of insulted” at the proposal of trimming the two routes.

“It’s taken years to get decent bus service up there. What they’re proposing, cuts these two communities out of the transit system.”

Pledge said the service violates TransLink’s own service objectives.

“Instead of cutting service, it needs to be improved,” said Duncan.

Rather than taking the view there isn’t enough ridership in the remote rural areas, “I would argue this is where the service is most needed.”

Service cuts shouldn’t happen when Maple Ridge is still paying for TransLink services, she added. Currently, Maple Ridge taxpayers pay about $5.5 million yearly to the agency.

Coast Mountain Bus, a subsidiary of TransLink, is also considering removing the Thornhill route, or southerly portion of C-49, which runs along Dewdney Trunk Road to 284th Street.

Spokesperson Marisa Espinosa said TransLink will consider the responses and hold another meeting in the new year to review findings and present scenarios. But if the proposals are met with strong opposition, “then we’ll have to take that into consideration.”

Whatever the changes, TransLink has said it will continue to serve River Road in the Albion Industrial Area so people in the supported work program can continue to get to their jobs at the Maple Ridge recycling centre.

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