TransLink has unveiled a major reconfiguration of bus routes and is asking for public input on what it has proposed.
The extensive changes are being driven in large part by the opening of the 11-kilometre Evergreen SkyTrain extension from Burnaby to Port Moody and Coquitlam next fall.
That requires a major rejig of bus routes to connect to the six new Evergreen stations, but it also means buses that currently run on the 97 B Line to the Tri Cities will be freed up and redeployed elsewhere.
TransLink has been steadily “optimizing” its routes each year to better fit the buses it has to evolving rider demand – sometimes triggering complaints about reduced local service – but with 85 changes proposed, this is the biggest overhaul in years.
“The reason there are so many changes all at once is to get ready for the Evergreen extension,” said spokesperson Jennifer Morland. “That’s really going to change the landscape for transportation and transit as a whole.”
Some of the significant changes that would be rolled out in 2016 include:
• The 394 bus along King George Boulevard between Surrey Central and White Rock will get increased rush hour service with limited stops. It won’t be B-Line level service, which TransLink would have delivered there if the transit sales tax referendum passed. But it’s expected to be a significant improvement.
• Tsawwassen routes are rejigged to reflect the expected opening in 2016 of the huge new Tsawwassen Mills mall. The 620 route will also become a limited stop express service because 90 per cent of its passengers are travelling between the ferry and Bridgeport Station on the Canada Line.
• The 509 route from Langley will run over the Port Mann Bridge, relieving pressure on the overcrowded 555 route from Langley’s Carvolth Exchange to Lougheed Station.
• The 595 in Langley will now run along 208 Street instead of 200th to serve growing rider demand. The 501 will still run on 200th.
• Elimination of the TrainBus service that mirrors the West Coast Express at additional times when the commuter train doesn’t run. Instead, improvements are promised to the 701 bus connecting the Evergreen Line station at Coquitlam Centre to Pitt Meadows, Maple Ridge and Mission.
• Conversion of the 135 bus along Hastings in Vancouver and Burnaby to a B-Line express bus, and an improvement in service toward the B-Line standard along 41st Avenue.
South Surrey-White Rock could see some of the most extensive changes, which would restore all-day 30-minute bus frequency on key routes that had been cut to one-hour frequency.
Two different options have been put out for public comment there – one stressing improved service to local neighbourhoods while the other would instead put more service on commuter routes that take passengers in and out of the South Surrey area.
Morland said that’s the main area where TransLink is still weighing significant tradeoffs before choosing a preferred option.
When the Evergreen extension opens (TransLink is no longer calling it the Evergreen Line), SkyTrain passengers will be able to ride from Coquitlam or Port Moody without transfer to VCC-Clark on the Millennium Line.
The SkyTrain section currently called the Millennium Line from Columbia in New Westminster to Production Way-University will become a branch of the Expo Line. Passengers boarding southeast bound SkyTrains in Vancouver or Burnaby will choose between Expo Line trains bound for King George if they’re heading for Surrey or else ‘Expo Line to Production Way-University’ to reach stations such as Sapperton or Braid.
Passengers taking SkyTrain between Surrey and the Tri Cities will have to transfer twice, at Lougheed and Columbia stations.
Morland said none of the changes are final and comments are being accepted until Nov. 6 at www.translink.ca/tnc. That site includes maps and details of the route changes in each area.