The mayors’ plan does not include more track time.

TransLink talking another WCE train to carry Maple Ridge commuters

Funding for one not yet determined though, questions remain

Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows commuters could see another train added to the West Coast Express schedule to help out with the rush-hour rail commutes, according to comments from TransLink’s boss Kevin Desmond.

But don’t be changing your travel schedule just yet.

The new CEO hired last year out of Seattle was just commenting about what could happen in the next few years following the release of the 2015 Transit Service Performance Review. The review found that the number of bus riders across TransLink’s system has jumped by two per cent within a year.

It also found that more people are jumping on rapid transit, as SkyTrain passenger volumes jumped 28 per cent, while the number people taking the West Coast Express train from Mission to Vancouver remained steady.

Neither Maple Ridge Mayor Nicole Read nor Pitt Meadows Mayor John Becker have heard of adding another train to the five rush-hour trains that run between Mission and Vancouver.

“So far as I know, the mayors’ plan includes more cars – not another train,” Becker said Friday.

He wasn’t sure how serious Desmond was about the idea of another West Coast Express train.

However, Becker said it’s possible that staff could bring the proposal to add another train before the Mayors’ Council on Regional Transportation to include it into the plan.

Becker also noted that the new agreement reached last year between CP Rail and TransLink for use of CP’s tracks didn’t include any increased time for West Coast Express trains.

The agreement is completely confidential and no information about length of term or costs will be released.

Read also said she’s never heard of the extra train, but thought it was a great idea.

According to TransLink’s 2015 Transit Service Performance Review, however, West Coast Express use has dropped in the last five years.

In 2011, the average number of daily boardings of West Coast Express was 11,400.

In 2015, one-thousand fewer people used the train, as the average number of daily boardings was 10,400 for the 68-kilometre trip.

Annual capacity on the train also dropped in that time period, from 219 million passengers per kilometre in 2011 to 208 million passengers per kilometre in 2015.

Meanwhile, costs per car kilometre increased from $12.38 in 2011 to 13.80 in 2015.

Becker said that TransLink and the provincial government still have to work out a funding formula to pay for operating costs in TransLink, despite another $370 million dished out by the federal government earlier this year for capital projects, such as SkyTrain expansion.

Funding options such as road pricing have repeatedly been rejected by the province.

“It’s all very well to have these wonderful transit assets, but we have to be concerned about how we’re going to pay for the increased operating costs,” Becker said.

He remained optimistic that a finance formula for operating costs will be found.

TransLink’s intent is to add another train around the 8 a.m. period, as that’s when there’s most demand.

The Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows area was the only sub-region to actually have a bus ridership decline (of minus one per cent) from 2014-15, bucking the regional trend of system-wide growth of three per cent.

However, from 2011-2015, the No. 791 bus from Haney Place to Braid Station gained 110,000 riders a year.

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