Costs for a study to look at a RapidBus system from Maple Ridge to the Evergreen SkyTrain in Coquitlam will be split, either four or three ways. Regardless, mayors don’t want the lack of a study to sideline the chance of hooking local commuters into the new system, which starts in 2016.
“If the three of us do it, we can come up with the details, the arguments and can go with our own case to TransLink, with the facts and figures in hand,” Maple Ridge Mayor Ernie Daykin said. “I feel we have a much better chance of success.”
That would entail Maple Ridge, Pitt Meadows and Port Coquitlam agreeing to share the costs of the study.
Mayors from the three municipalities discussed in December lobbying TransLink to build the line along Lougheed Highway. A RapidBus, whether in its own lanes or mixing with traffic, could speed commuters from downtown Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows, with just a few stops along the way, to the new SkyTrain station at Coquitlam Central Station.
PoCo Mayor Greg Moore believes TransLink would share in the cost.
Terms of reference for the study haven’t been set, so cost isn’t yet known.
Daykin said he and Moore talked about a RapidBus link a year ago.
“What will make it viable is all three of us working.”
Pitt Meadows Mayor Deb Walters would support a study.
“It’s certainly something we want to do for our residents. It’s a matter of putting something in our budget and it’s not in our budget.”
But council has to approve that, the cost of a study, she said. And she’d expect most on council to do so.
“Traffic is our No. 1 issue. It is top of mind.”
She didn’t know when the issue will come to council, but said chief administrators from each municipality are discussing it.
Daykin said part of the request for starting the service will be coming up with some kind of funding formula to pay for it. That could entail tapping developers who profit from higher land values that occur when rapid transit arrives.
“It’s part of what our pitch will be.”
TransLink’s 30-year Regional Transportation Strategy identifies RapidBus on Lougheed Highway connecting the three communities.
Part of the challenge will be finding enough room for a RapidBus lane, which can have either its own lane or have traffic signal priority and share space with cars.
A westbound bus and high-occupancy vehicle lane was added to the north side of Lougheed Highway in 2010, between 200th Street and the Pitt River Bridge.
Moore said previously that the Lougheed does have “significant right of ways” from Maple Ridge to Coquitlam and RapidBus can work within existing road right-of-ways and over major utilities without having to move them, reducing cost.