(Wikimedia)                                B-line service on the Lougheed to Coquitlam is two years away.

(Wikimedia) B-line service on the Lougheed to Coquitlam is two years away.

Lougheed B-Line in planning stage

Translink officials meet Pitt Meadows council

TransLink’s goal is to have B line buses running from Maple Ridge to Coquitlam within two years.

Transit planners visited Pitt Meadows council Tuesday to discuss the planning now underway for the rapid bus service.

Geoff Cross, with TransLink, told council his organization’s commitment is to have the new service in place by September 2019.

B-line is a faster transit service that has minimum 15-minute frequency, generally for 18 hours per day, every day, Cross explained.

It also offers limited stops for faster travel time, direct routing and connections to key regional destinations. The Lougheed B-Line will be designed to be a rapid service from Maple Ridge to Coquitlam Central Station.

“It really is that sort of middle step, thinking ahead to rapid transit sometime potentially in the future,” he said.

“We’re high frequency, you don’t have to have a schedule, limited stops, so it’s really competing with a car or private vehicle,” he said.

It will have “very direct connections and lots of enhancements, so that it’s competitive in that regard, and more amenities than you would think about in a normal transit service.”

He said most people in the area are familiar with 97B line, which operated in advance of by the Evergeen Extension of the SkyTrain system. TransLink is now adding the 96 B line as the precursor to rail transit in Surrey-Newton-Guildford, he said.

The Lougheed B-Line is one of five under development, as part of a $2 billion plan to improve public transit in Metro Vancouver.

Coun. Bruce Bell asked how many stops there will be in Pitt Meadows, and whether the buses may deviate from the Lougheed route and pick up passengers along other streets.

Cross said the first question to be answered by planners is where the stops will be, and they should be strategic.

“We need to balance that there need be limited stops on it, to be able to make sure that it is competitive from a time perspective,” he answered. “You need to be very direct. You need to be reliable in the service, it needs to be fast and convenient.”

He said there needs to be good access to the B-line “trunk” from local “feeder” transit.

Cross said the timeline is short, and the planning process will require multi-agency coordination. TransLink has to determine transit needs, where growth is, and where the current network is dated and needs to be updated to serve areas of growth such as Pitt Meadows Airport and business park and employment areas.

He said some of the amenities or improved service the B-line may offer include dedicated bus lanes in some areas, queue jumper lanes, “higher order” shelters with good way-finding information, off-board payment systems for faster bus boarding and a custom-branded fleet for high recognition. Some of these elements could be added over time, after the system is up and running.

Mayor John Becker noted the area transit plan for Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows is badly outdated.

“I tease my colleagues at TransLink when I look at the area plan for Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows as it currently exists, that one of the priorities is to make sure our residents have good access to the Albion ferry,” said Becker. “Clearly it’s time that we had another look.”

The ferry was decommissioned with the construction of the Golden Ears Bridge.

The last area plan was completed in 2004.

Cross said TransLink recognizes that the level of service has been low in the area, with expansion stagnant for several years.

The first phase of the mayor’s investment plan is well underway, having started a year ago. It includes a 10-per-cent increase to bus service.