Maple Ridge mayor wants SkyTrain in long-term plans.

Maple Ridge mayor wants SkyTrain in long-term plans.

Put SkyTrain to Maple Ridge in long-term plan: mayor

Still cheaper to add West Coast Express track, says Pitt Meadows mayor

The long-awaited B-line bus is supposed to be running from downtown Maple Ridge to Coquitlam within two years.

But Maple Ridge Mayor Nicole Read has bigger plans.

Read wants SkyTrain to connect Maple Ridge to Coquitlam and for that project to be added to TransLink’s long-range plans.

“It’s planning for the future,” Read said.

She added that in the next 30 years, Maple Ridge’s population will grow by another 50,000 under Metro Vancouver’s regional growth strategy.

“It may be a bit of longer term planning and 15 years into the distance, but it needs to get on to the plan. Because when we’re having conversations about mobility pricing and we can’t get our citizens on to transit, that doesn’t work.”

Read said if the West Coast Express commuter rail service from Mission is ever terminated, SkyTrain would be even more required.

In January, following several passenger rail delays caused by freight, Pitt Meadows-Maple Ridge MP Dan Ruimy questioned the future of West Coast Express.

“I don’t think, long-term-wise, we are best served by sharing the line. I would like to see SkyTrain, if not light rail,” Ruimy said then.

West Coast Express’ on-time performance was 95.6 percent in 2016.

“If that conversation ever gets any legs and there is any kind of reality to that, then there better be a SkyTrain before that happens, end of story,” Read said.

“We can’t keep participating in conversations without people in our city paying more to use roads. West Coast Express is already one of the most costly services to use, compared to other transit services. At the end of the day, we have to have an affordable way for people to move around the region.”

Phase 1 of the Mayor’s Council 10-year Vision for Metro Vancouver is in the process of being implemented. That includes a B-line bus service from downtown Maple Ridge to Coquitlam, which is supposed to be in place by 2019.

Phase 1 also includes bus service to Silver Valley and five new passenger cars for the West Coast Express service.

Phase 2 of that 10-year plan, and which is supposed to start next year, includes building light rail transit into Surrey, extending the Broadway SkyTrain line to Arbutus Street in Vancouver, and replacing the Pattulo Bridge.

Phase 3, in 2019, involves adding more buses throughout the region.

Pitt Meadows Mayor John Becker said SkyTrain to Maple Ridge would have to wait for a longer-term plan, beyond the current 10-year one.

The Mayors Council would have to agree to add that project, and other demands from other cities, into a new plan, he added.

“I have no idea when we would sit down as the Mayors Council and start talking about the next 10-year plan.”

Becker maintains it’s still cheaper to add a single track to the CP Rail line to allow the West Coast Express to move without waiting for freight trains.

“From a cost point of view, it would be a lot cheaper.”

Becker noted it would be a one-way service, with west-bound trains in the morning and eastbound in the afternoon.

“It would not provide the back and forth that SkyTrain does.”

Initially, the Evergreen Line extension was supposed to open in 2009, but instead it opened in late 2016.

The Pitt River Bridge was designed to accommodate either a light rail or a SkyTrain system.

Maple Ridge Coun. Gordy Robson said the B-line route will create the future SkyTrain corridor through Pitt Meadows and Maple Ridge.

Following a B-line service could be a RapidBus service on a dedicated line, followed by SkyTrain.

“Putting it in the air is the last step.”

But the Mayor’s Council has to agree to put that into the plan, Robson added.