Maple Ridge has come out the winner Friday in a revised plan to boost the number of buses and trains and cut transit wait times in Metro Vancouver.
If the Mayors Council and TransLink OK the plan in November, Maple Ridge will see a direct B-line bus route from Maple Ridge to Coquitlam Central SkyTrain station, as well as bus service to Silver Valley, all within one to four years. Better bus service in Albion is also planned.
“This gets buses on the road now,” Maple Ridge Mayor Nicole Read said Friday.
The B-line service will run every 15 minutes and hook in directly to the new Evergreen SkyTrain line opening soon in Coquitlam.
But a route hasn’t been set yet and it’s not known if a B-line bus will divert to Maple Meadows West Coast Express station before continuing on the Lougheed Highway to Coquitlam.
“The idea is to get them down Lougheed Highway as fast as possible,” said Read.
She added that Maple Ridge is getting an additional 75,000 bus service hours under the plan.
The proposed increased in bus service is 64-per-cent more than what exists now, the highest increase in bus service throughout Metro Vancouer.
All of the proposals comprise Phase 1 of the 10-year Vision for Metro Vancouver Transit and Transportation.
Five new railway cars, to be added to the five existing West Coast Express commuter train will also be added within the next few years.
To pay for it all, the Mayors Council is proposing to raise fares by up to 10 cents a trip. Also, there will be an increase on the TransLink levy that people pay on their property taxes by an average of $3 a year.
Road pricing and development fees are also proposed for three years from now and will require provincial approval.
The province in the past has rejected road tolls.
Read said the extra money from the federal government for Phase 1, which now totals $370 million was a “game-changer.” The province is also contributing $246 million.
“The question is whether it’s enough of a game-changer to make the public willing to pay more in TransLink taxes.”
The plan now goes to the public for feedback before returning to the Mayor’s Council and TransLink for final OK in November.
Read said she got agreement to allow mayors to comment on the public engagement process to ensure that areas like Maple Ridge are represented.
It was also a battle to get the long-promised B-line service to Coquitlam in the Phase 1, the first four years, not Phase 2, which comprises years six to 10 of the plan.
“We fought very yard last year to get the B-line into the one-to-four year portion of the plan.
“I think everybody is eager to get buses on the road.”
Maple Ridge delivered the highest no vote, 77 per cent, in the spring 2015 referendum that rejected raising the provincial sales tax by half a per cent to pay for TransLInk. Pitt Meadows followed closely with a 72-per-cent no vote.
If the plan is approved, new buses should start rolling by January.
Other projects in Phase 1 of the plan are:
• 50 new SkyTrain cars and a new SeaBus to North Vancouver are also in Phase 1 of the plan.
• The major road network will be improved as will cycling and pedestrian paths.
• Every West Coast Express station will have a bike parkade.
• planning and design for Broadway subway and Surrey light rail transit.