West Coast Express commuter rail gets another car added soon.

Making a B-line from Maple Ridge to new SkyTrain extension, in two years

Phase 1 of 10-year TransLink plan includes a new bus to Silver Valley suburb

Metro Vancouver mayors  OK’d last week Phase 1 of the 10-Year Vision for Metro Vancouver Transit and Transportation, and now it looks like Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows actually will see more buses, soon.

Improvements were spelled out in a press release and there’s even a map that shows the long-awaited B-line bus service, joining downtown Maple Ridge to the Evergreen SkyTrain extension in Coquitlam, plus bus service to Silver Valley.

“We have fought to get this 100 per cent locked solid, written down – this is what we’re getting,” said Maple Ridge Mayor Nicole Read Friday.

“This is in the works, where we were to where we are, we’ve made a big difference.”

The map for Phase 1 shows the B-line running down Lougheed Highway and across the Pitt River Bridge, but a small green connector route seems to divert the service briefly into Pitt Meadows.

But Read she said that TransLink has confirmed that wouldn’t happen and the B-Line route would remain on Lougheed and not divert to Pitt Meadows.

“I needed to be clear that we were not diverting the B-Line off Lougheed.

“We need to make sure that B-line is fast, that it goes down Lougheed and connects people with the Evergreen in a really efficient way,” Read said.

But she wants to ensure that Pitt Meadows residents can hook into the B-Line service and “we’ll fight to make sure that there’s an efficient way,” to connect Pitt Meadows residents to the B-line.

That would require TransLink setting up some kind of connection or shuttle service to allow Pitt Meadows residents to access the B-Line via a stop somewhere on the Lougeed Highway.

Pitt Meadows Mayor John Becker however has said previously that he’d like to see the B-line divert to Maple Meadows West Coast Express station near 200th Street, which could become a transit hub.

Maple Ridge, Pitt Meadows, Port Coquitlam and Coquitlam have already started a study on setting up a B-Line service through the four cities connecting to Evergreen SkyTrain.

Read said the details and timelines of when the projects role out remain to be determined.

But TransLink spokesmap Chris Bryan said the B-Line service will be running by 2019, with the cities to determine the exact route.

New bus service within Maple Ridge will be added between the 2017 and 2019 time period, Bryan said. That includes bringing in a brand new bus route to Silver Valley. Service will be every 30 minutes during peak periods on weekdays and every 45 minutes the rest of the week from early morning until 9 p.m. A final route remains to be determined.

Routes C-45 and C-46 also will be expanded to hourly, between 9 a.m. and 9 p.m., from a current level of every two hours, connecting Albion to the West Coast Express Port Haney station.

The other major improvement for Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows commuters is the addition of five new rail cars to the existing five West Coast Express rush-hour trains that run into Vancouver, weekdays only.

“I’ve been on that a few times, so that will be great,” said Coun. Bob Masse. He was also happy that Silver Valley, the new suburb at the north end of 232nd Street, will get bus service.

“So I think that’s great.”

Coun. Gordy Robson though said he was disappointed that TransLink isn’t starting an express bus service immediately connecting downtown Maple Ridge to the Evergreen SkyTrain extension at Coquitlam Central station. That service, an extension of the Millennium Line, begins on Dec. 2.

Mike Buda, executive-director of the Mayors Council on Regional Transportation, explains the service upgrades in Phase 1 of the 10-year vision, at council’s Monday, Nov. 28 workshop meeting.

Phase 1 was made possible after the federal government kicked in $370 million and the province added $244 million.

The TransLink property tax levy will also increase slightly, about $3 more per year for each house, over and above the usual increases, while fares will go up a nickel or dime. Developers will also pay a new fee.

Metro mayors will still have to find more revenue in the months ahead to finance the second phase of the 10-year vision under which major rapid transit extensions in Vancouver and Surrey would finally get built.

Taxpayers in 2015, rejected a half-per cent increase in the provincial sales tax to pay for TransLink improvements with Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows having the highest voting percentage against.

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