Saturday, September 14, 2013

City News

Bus Buddies

Transit partners show their appreciation to riders

Released by RCMP UFVRD Cpl. Len vanNieuwenhuizen

 

BC Transit President and CEO Manuel Achadinha thanks riders and the public for the vast amount of feedback they had for the service expansion project. Below, Chilliwack mayor Sharon Gaetz hands out goodies to a bus rider last Wednesday.

 

ity Hall dignitaries and officials from BC Transit wanted to thank bus riders and held a rider appreciation day on Wednesday and brought cookies and lime green swag bags filled with safety lights to spoil riders with.

 

However, it was off-peak hours, so only a few riders received the gifts at the downtown exchange on Spadina Ave.

 

Earlier this month, Chilliwack had the single largest service expansion in the its history come online with the addition of two major routes on the Vedder and Evans Rd corridors, more night hours and holiday openings. The system expansion represents about a 30 per cent increase over the existing bus service.

 

"Thank you for coming out to celebrate the largest transit expansion in Chilliwack's history," said Councillor Jason Lum, who chairs the Transportation Advisory Committee introduced dignitaries.

 

Even though the changes look complete, Lum says there's still more to do.

 

"We've got regional transportation and regional connectivity to work on, and we'll get that done in the next couple of years," he said.

 

Chilliwack Mayor Sharon Gaetz was also there to thank passengers.

 

"We're here today, to honour them," she said. "If they don't get out and ride the bus then there's no sense in even having them."

 

Gaetz noted that the new routes, holiday service and evening hours came about as a result of extensive public consultation.

 

"People spoke to us and they told us what they wanted."

 

"Its incredible to watch how the stats are rising and watching Chilliwack celebrate growth in ridership," continued Gaetz. "It makes me really excited every morning to say goodbye to my husband, he jumps on the bus to go down to the hospital, and I've got to tell you, he's thrilled there's going to be evening service and depends on it to go to Chiefs games."

 

BC Transit President and CEO Manuel Achadinha echoed Gaetz's comments saying the city has demonstrated its commitment to transit through various partnerships that have developed along the way with local and provincial governments.

 

"Transit isn't possible if it's not with the ongoing commitment and support of our local government partners in the province. Without the funding of both these partners, transit just doesn't happen," he said.

 

Achadinha said Chilliwack is lucky in that less than 20 per cent of Canadians have adequate transit.

 

 

Chilliwack bus drivers stretch their legs at the downtown exchange on Spadina Ave. Wednesday.

 

"In British Columbia, we're very fortunate, we have a large number of transit systems and that's a reflection of the partnerships we have between local government and the province," he said.

 

"The last couple of years, as the mayor said, there's been an awful lot of dialogue and input in terms of what makes transit work for this community and the goal of this community is to develop a transit system that connects people and businesses for a more sustainable future."

 

Achadinha explained that most people don't understand the business side of public transit and the need to turn a profit in order to attract investors.

 

He said one of the amenities that prospective residents look for prior to moving to a community is if there is adequate public transit.

 

Afterward, Achadinha told the Voice that its a bit too early to tell if ridership has actually increased now with the revamped system.

 

"As we see in the month of September, it really dictates what's going to happen for the rest of the year," he said adding, "One of the big issues here is that as you produce new routes, it usually 2-3 years, particularly new routes to get traction."

 

But as was clearly indicated in the public consultation process, Chilliwack is ready now.

 

Achadinha said local transit funding is split between municipal and provincial governments.

 

"The goal here is try to recover as much through the box as we possibly can and by providing an efficient and effective system and really what you're doing, and I think this is what happened in Chilliwack, is that you're getting the community asking for more transit which makes it a lot easier for elected officials to make that investment or that decision on transit when they know the community is fully supportive of that."

 

For more bus information, visit www.chilliwack.com

 

See more photos below.

 

 

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