R3 RapidBus arrives in January in Maple Ridge. (Contributed)

Maple Ridge councillors wonder, just how fast is RapidBus?

It will be quicker than current bus service, TransLink promises

Some members of Maple Ridge council are concerned that the new RapidBus line won’t be that rapid.

They want assurance that the new R3 RapidBus, carrying Maple Ridge commuters to Coquitlam Central SkyTrain, won’t get bogged down in traffic gridlock when it starts running on Jan. 6.

“Unless that bus goes faster than the traffic, it’s just going to sit along with the rest of the traffic. It’s not a rapid bus, it’s just a bus,” Coun. Gordy Robson said during TransLink’s presentation of the area transport plan at council’s Oct. 8 meeting.

Maple Ridge Mayor Mike Morden said at council that the area needed clarification and added on Wednesday that council is still awaiting details on TransLink’s strategy for reducing the travel time for the R3 RapidBuses.

But Sarah Ross, director of system planning with TransLink, said bus lanes in Coquitlam and Port Coquitlam, along with changes on Lougheed Highway in Pitt Meadows all will make the service quicker than what’s running now.

“We feel quite confident that this will improve transit time on the RapidBus, compared to what we have today,” Ross told council.

R3 RapidBus arrives in January in Maple Ridge. (Contributed)

R3 RapidBus arrives in January in Maple Ridge. (Contributed)

She added that the R3 will have more transit priority than existing buses, adding that there’s also room to add more transit priority.

Robson acknowledged that the RapidBus will be faster than existing buses because they don’t detour into Pitt Meadows.

However, buses have to be quicker than autos if people are going to abandon their cars, he added. He said that signal devices to allow traffic lights to favour buses is one way to speed up buses. He also suggested that there’s room along the Lougheed in Maple Ridge in some areas to allow a bus lane.

But Ross said there is no traffic-light-signal priority system in place in this area, though TransLink is looking at that.

One challenge is that every city uses different signalling devices, although cities can also harmonize their traffic signals to make it easier for buses to move, Ross said.

TransLink says on its website that the speed of RapidBus will rival that of SkyTrain.

TransLink also claims that of the five RapidBuses launching in January 2020, the Lougheed RapidBus has the best time savings because its route takes it primarily over a highway.

The new R3 RapidBus service in Maple Ridge will offer rush-hour service every 10 minutes from Haney Place into Coquitlam Central SkyTrain line.

That is supposed to take just under 40 minutes, a time saving of 20 per cent.

The RapidBus is also supposed to be quicker than the 701 and 791 because it will travel directly along Lougheed all the way to Coquitlam Central, instead of detouring and will have only six stops along the entire route, compared to 35 stops for the 701.

There also will be queue-jumping lanes at Ottawa Street and Maple Meadows Way, that will allow buses to bypass traffic lineups.

As well, there will be another six kilometres of new HOV lanes added to the route, in addition to the existing four kilometres of HOV lanes, that will speed buses ahead of traffic.

There’s also a new bus-only entrance to Coquitlam Central Station, making it easier for buses to move in and out.



pmelnychuk@mapleridgenews.com

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R3 RapidBus arrives in January in Maple Ridge. (Contributed)

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