Cities want to get a jump on Rapid Bus link

Looking to pool money to pay for study, so project is shovel ready for federal dollars

Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows trying for Rapid Bus link to new Evergreen line in Coquitlam.

Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows trying for Rapid Bus link to new Evergreen line in Coquitlam.

Pitt Meadows and Maple Ridge want to be ready the moment federal dollars become available to make their pitch for a RapidBus link to the new Evergreen SkyTrain line in Coquitlam.

Both councils are considering a proposal by Port Coquitlam Mayor Greg Moore to each pay $15,000 for an up-to-date study that will look at linking Haney Place Mall to the Evergreen line, when that opens early next year.

The plan is to complete the study within weeks so the mayors on the north side of the Fraser River can make their pitch to TransLink for their part of the expected new federal infrastructure funding.

Pitt Meadows council looked at the request during its Tuesday meeting.

“Our ability to have these plans in place should augur well to get these improvements close to the front of the line,” said Mayor John Becker.

“We don’t want to be lollygagging, because then we’ll just fall back into the pack.”

A RapidBus service was part of the mayor’s regional transportation plan that was rejected by voters last year when they defeated a proposal to raise the sales tax by half a per cent.

Now, some elements of that plan could proceed if the federal government increases funding, which could be part of Tuesday’s budget.

The new Liberal government intends to dole out $60 billion over 10 years, split between public transit, green and affordable housing initiatives.

“We don’t require a major cash injection from the province,” to do the project, said Becker.

He said Moore raised the idea recently that the quicker a study is done, the quicker the project would be ready.

Becker said the Rapid line, likely an articulated bus, could make one stop in Pitt Meadows by diverting south on to Harris Road to the Maple Meadows West Coast Express station, then returning back on to Lougheed Highway the same way. That way, it could also connect with the community shuttle buses that funnel into the West Coast Express station.

There’s no other place for a park-and-ride facility along the highway, he pointed out.

Maple Ridge could add a few more stops, provided the service doesn’t turn into a milk run.

If the Rapid Bus ran on 15- or 20-minute interval, people wouldn’t have to worry about checking a schedule to ensure they could catch the bus, he added.

The Evergreen line running from Coquitlam Centre to Lougheed Town Centre in Burnaby, isn’t expected to begin service until early next year.

Two years ago, the mayors of Pitt Meadows, Port Coquitlam and Maple Ridge met with TransLink and also asked for a Rapid Bus connection to Evergreen.

At that time, TransLink also began a study of a RapidBus line or B-line service from downtown Maple Ridge to Coquitlam Centre.

The study was to determine if Lougheed or Dewdney Trunk Road is more suitable, and if the service would use its own dedicated traffic lanes.

Maple Ridge Coun. Gordy Robson said it could be faster to connect to the Braid SkyTrain station in New Westminster, as the No. 791 bus already does, because it could take too long to drive through Coquitlam to reach Coquitlam Centre.

“I think we won’t need much infrastructure.”