TransLink’s 10-year vision trotted out to taxpayers

‘B-Line needed to Evergreen’ SkyTrain station.

A B-Line bus should take riders to the SkyTrain station in Coquitlam.

TransLink’s new plan for better bus service was rolled out at an open house in the Arts Centre Theatre Tuesday as part of a bid to get public input.

The reception was one of a series of open houses held throughout Metro Vancouver as part of the public consultation process before the Mayor’s Council votes on the plan next month.

Maple Ridge is supposed to see an additional 75,000 bus service hours under Phase 1 of the 10-Year Vision for transportation. That represents a 64-per-cent increase above current levels.

Another major addition that’s supposed to be added within four years is a rapid-bus link connecting downtown Maple Ridge to the new Evergreen SkyTrain line in Coquitlam.

“I haven’t heard anything negative about the plan, which is very heartening,” said Coun. Craig Speirs.

“This will allow us to move things forward.”

He credited Maple Ridge Mayor Nicole Read for getting improvements for this area in the plan. Read opposed the failed 2015 referendum on raising the provincial sales tax by half a per cent to fund TransLink expansion because of the lack of clarity in the original 10-year plan.

Maple Ridge also had the highest percentage of voters rejecting that proposed tax increase.

The current 10-Year Vision includes small increases to the TransLink levy charged on homeowner’s property taxes as one way to help pay for more service.

An average home assessed at $678,000 would pay $190 a year to TransLink next year (an increase of $3 over and above the automatic annual increase for TransLink of about $2) and that would increase a further $3 a year thereafter.

For a $1-million property, that translates to $285 in TransLink property tax in 2017 with $4 annual increases. Fare increases of 10 cents a trip and possibly development charges and road tolls will also help pay for the improvements.

“We need a B-Line. It would be stupid to open a new SkyTrain line so close and not have a direct line to it,” Speirs said.

The Evergreen line is supposed to be open by the end of this year, after years of delays.

Speirs wants a B-Line service to run directly down Lougheed Highway through Pitt Meadows and not divert into the city to pick up passengers at Maple Meadows park-and-ride West Coast Express station.

“We just can’t be going across the railway tracks. It’s just too much. We need a main line fed by shuttle buses.”

Harris Road and Lougheed Highway could be a good place for B-Line stop in Pitt Meadows, he said.

Pitt Meadows Mayor John Becker said that the Maple Meadows West Coast Express station could become a transit hub for Pitt Meadows that could all be fed by community shuttle buses from the business park, Pitt Meadows Regional Airport and Bonson’s Landing.

The B-Line could also stop at the Maple Meadows station, though he realized Maple Ridge would object.

However, if the B-Line runs straight along Lougheed Highway, TransLink has to build bus shelters and stops, he added. The community shuttles then could connect to the B-Line on Lougheed Highway.

“We’re a long way from wrangling over route stops but again it’s nice to see the show is on the road.”

He said previously that bus lines must still be part of the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure plans for improving Lougheed Highway.

Becker wants to focus on rewriting the area transit plan for Pitt Meadows and Maple Ridge. He’s been told that’s supposed to begin next year.

The federal government has pledged to cover half of capital costs, reducing the regional share to 17 per cent.

“It’s really clear that this is one of the most important issues to people in Metro Vancouver,” Read said on CBC Radio Wednesday. Metro Vancouver mayors want the province more involved on the funding proposals.

But the federal funding was a “game-changer” to get things moving, Read said.

 

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