Commuters board the new RapidBus at the Haney Bus Loop on Wednesday. (Michael Hall – THE NEWS)

RapidBus to bring density to Maple Ridge; ‘more needs to be done’

‘Half of city’s planned density to occur in core.’

Maple Ridge celebrated the arrival of RapidBus on Wednesday with a ribbon-cutting ceremony at the Haney Bus Loop, but at least one commuter thinks more needs to be done, as does a city councillor.

Maple Ridge Mayor Mike Morden told those in attendance that the city plans to densify along the new RapidBus route.

“Within one kilometre of where we stand here today, 50 per cent of our community’s density, which will be 130,000 total, so half of that will be in the core. So here now we have that quick service down into the SkyTrain system in order to be able to support all that density.”

READ ALSO: RapidBus launches in Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows.

TransLink launched the new RapidBus service Monday. It is expected to get commuters from downtown Maple Ridge to Coquitlam Central SkyTrain Station in just over half an hour.

Early ridership numbers and commuting times are not yet known.

Buses are scheduled 10 minutes apart or better during peak travel times and every 15 minutes or better during non-peak hours.

Key road and intersection improvements for the RapidBus route include five kilometres of new bus HOV lanes from the Pitt River Bridge to Maple Meadows Way and limited strategic stops, according to TransLink.

The new 60-foot articulated buses have softer seats and more space than others, as well as real-time digital signage, and audio next-bus information at stops.

David Lane, a commuter, applauds the “long overdue” RapidBus, but thinks it is misleading to suggest there is a “new” HOV lane.

“The government has only converted the eastbound third lane on Lougheed to HOV,” he wrote in a letter.

“While this is improving transit, it is also increasing homeward-bound commuter travel times with a lane reduction. Considering that a fourth lane just opened last year from Allen Way to Harris Road that was so desperately needed, more still needs to be done on the Lougheed corridor as a whole.”

Maple Ridge Coun. Ahmed Yousef has some concerns about the RapidBus line, as well.

“My biggest concern is that it is not going to be that rapid once it hits Maple Ridge because, of course, they’ve got the dedicated lanes all through the other municipalities, from Coquitlam and Port Coquitlam and Pitt Meadows, whereas in Maple Ridge, with the layout of Lougheed Highway in our city, it hasn’t been done yet,” he said.

“They’ve been working on Lougheed Highway, they haven’t expanded it, they haven’t put in a bus lane, so I’m kind of wondering why that hasn’t happened when it has happened in other cities.”

Another issue, Yousef added, is once the bus hits rush hour, either going out of Maple Ridge or coming into the city, the highway is the same number of lanes.

“We still have two lanes going in each direction, so where is the difference between this and private vehicles?”

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