Sunday August 8, 2010
Bigham Wants Big Bus Changes
Few funds needed under her revised bus schedules
ransit activist Jenn Bigham is turning into the prodigal daughter, that according to her recent survey, bus riders have been looking for. Just re-gig it she says.
Among Bigham's suggestions that she will be taking to the Transportation Advisory Council Tuesday, 10am at City Hall, are Cultus lake buses. The following is the text segment of her exceptional multi-media presentation.
Hello my name is Jennifer Bigham and Iím the Chilliwack-tivist.
This video will explore the current Chilliwack public transit system, as of August 2010, and examine why it isnít providing adequate service for the commuters. Then, the video will present a new comprehensive transit plan that will offer satisfactory service for now as well as provide a structured framework for expandability into the future.
Introduction to Old System Review
Letís start off with a brief overview of the current system and discuss the reasons why itís failing to provide the basic level of service that would incline commuters to choose, to use the system.
The current transit system no longer has any structure. When established in 1989 the Chilliwack transit system did have a proper framework, but it was servicing a much smaller area. Now-a-days that system has been mutated to try to compensate for the modern needs of a much larger city resulting in an inefficient mess riddled with routing shortcomings and scheduling flaws.
The routing shortcomings will be more closely examined in the new transit plan, letís look at the reasons why the scheduling of the current system isnít getting the job done to make sure these same mistakes arenít emulated in the future.
Redundant Service -for the purposes of this presentation the term service redundancy can be defined as more than one bus passing through the same section of road, going in the same direction within a 5 minute period. Letís examine the interaction between the #5, #6, #7 and #10 routes for a 1 hour period on a standard weekday morning.
Service Redundancy Overview
Starting at the downtown bus exchange the #6 leaves at 36 minutes past the hour, then 4 minutes later the #5 departs at 40 minutes past the hour following the #6 all the way from the downtown exchange to the malls on Luckakuck Way. Unfortunately this isnít the only regularly occurring schedule redundancy in the current system, every hour these 4 routes are in service together the system is running at a whopping 46% service redundancy.
The change to the #7 route in September 2009 was attempting to alleviate some of this service redundancy by breaking up the #7 route into a downtown and a Sardis component.
Alas, the idea was poorly executed and the connection between components is severed at the Chilliwack Mall resulting in an hour wait for commuters Ė the best intentions and the worst results.
This scheduling flop is just another example of why we need to STOP mutating the old system that was designed for an outdated Chilliwack and START over with a new system from square one.
Letís finish the review of the current system with a summary of the factors contributing to the regrettable fact that only 8% of Chilliwack public transit commuters are satisfied with their bus system.
Old System Failures Review
The current bus routes have a limited reach into the community because they only cover a fraction of what they should in a city the size of Chilliwack; in addition the central business district of town is completely overlooked by the current transit structure.
It would be unreasonable to try to coordinate the bus service with every single institution in town, however cooperating with the major institutions should be expected. The lack of coordination with the operating hours of places such as Cottonwood Mall, Chilliwack Mall, Stream, UFV, Greyhound, and the new Wal-Mart is severely retarding the potential revenue of these massively popular commuter destinations.
Half of Service is Redundant
When considering the interactions of our 4 most popular bus routes, 46% of the time there is some sort of service redundancy in popular areas, at the expense of other areas which are hindered by up to 2 hour waits; an inefficient use of resources to say the least.
The service hours are sparse at best considering the limited evening service, finite Sunday service and no Holiday service. People donít trust the system enough to use it as their primary source of transportation; the incomplete bus service simply isnít reliable enough.
It takes too long!
It takes between 50-90 minutes to get across town using the bus system, as compared to 15 minutes by car, or 25 minutes by bike, or 50 minutes on foot; it should be faster to take the bus than to walk!
Mass Transit Isolation
Chilliwack is currently isolated from the rest of the Fraser Valley as we are without a public transit option connecting us to our neighbors in Abbotsford and beyond. We need to put our city on the map; weíre overdue.
Even with all of these hurdles the transit commuters still endure and take the bus when they have to, but no one is choosing the take the bus if they have any other options. The transit modeshare has been sitting at a stagnant 1% for the last 20 years, and presently doesnít show any indication of changing. Hopefully weíre finally ready to address the problem, and weíll be committed to getting a respectable percentage of the population riding the bus.
New System Introduction
Letís now consider a comprehensive action plan for establishing a functioning public transit system in Chilliwack that will satisfy the previously outlined failures of the old system. The first step is committing to the idea that the central business district is centered at the malls on Luckakuck Way by establishing the Primary Exchange at the Cottonwood Mall. Then we need to supplement this service core by adding two auxiliary exchanges: a Downtown Exchange on Main St, and a Sardis Exchange at Keith Wilson and Vedder. Each of these three exchanges will be supported by 30 minute satellite routes servicing their immediate areas; as well as a B-line bus connecting the exchanges acting as a backbone to the overall service framework.
Downtown Exchange Overview
Letís start off by considering the Downtown Exchange; its satellite routes are already mostly in place and wonít change that much. The current #1, #2, #3 and #4 routes will remain nearly intact as they are already acting as satellite routes to that proximal exchange; they can and will be expanded to fit the 30 minute route model. Each of these 4 new expanded satellite routes should be serviced by two dedicated buses making their respective bus frequencies at 30 minutes.
Primary Exchange Overview
Letís now consider the Primary Exchange at Cottonwood Mall, all the satellite routes to this exchange need to be made from the drawing board, but the cost will be minimized as they will use the bus stops from the old system as much as possible.
As an example of the routing on a new satellite route, introducing the #14 Lickman Route:
-Leaves Primary Exchange and goes west on Luckakuck
Way toward Lickman Road.
-Takes the Lickman Road overpass and goes East on Yale Road West.
-Takes the 3rd Exit in the Evans Roundabout toward Evans Parkway.
-Services Wal-Mart and turns back toward the Evans
-Takes the 3rd Exit in the Evans Roundabout toward Vedder Rd.
-Turns right onto Vedder and returns to the Primary Exchange
The 30-minute round trip
This one satellite route alone would provide access to well over 150 separate businesses (not including the malls); and would finally provide service to our central business district. The other two satellite routes servicing the primary exchange would be fashioned similarly each designed to run as 30-minute loops. The #15 Stevenson Route would cover the region West of Vedder Road, below Lickman Road down to Stevenson Road, out West as far as Evans Road. The #16 Chilliwack River Route would cover the region East of Vedder, below Lickman Road, down to Higginson Road, out as far East as Chilliwack River Road Ė including servicing the forth coming Rail for the Valley Station located near the Young Road Exit #120. In addition to these satellite routes the Primary Exchange would also host the Chilliwack-Abbotsford connector bus, which would run from the Seven Oaks Mall in Abbotsford, to the Cottonwood Mall in Chilliwack and vice versa. These satellite routes would be serviced by two dedicated buses, one focusing on the #14 route, and the other splitting the #15 and #16, making the bus frequencies 30-minutes.
Sardis Exchange Overview
Similarly to the other two exchanges the Sardis exchange will be located on the corner of Vedder Road and Keith Wilson Road and will also be supplemented by its own new satellite routes. The #17 South Sumas Route would offer service west of Vedder Road, up as far as Stevenson Road and down to as far as the Vedder River, and out West as far as Unsworth Road. The #10 Promontory would now start and terminate at the Sardis exchange and would allow service to be greatly expanded up and around the mountain. The #18 Cultus Lake route would finally offer year round service to our neighbors at Cultas Lake. These satellite exchanges would be serviced by 2 buses, making their bus frequency 30-minutes.
Finally the route that brings it all together, the #19 B-line route would run along Yale Road, and Vedder Road connecting the 3 exchanges and tying the whole concept together. During peak hours two buses would service this route making the frequency 30 minutes, and finally allowing people to traverse the city in an efficient matter.
New System Closing
All tolled at the peak of running frequency the system would be using 9 buses, to which the Mayor has assured us are on the way. We also might want to consider using smaller buses for the less busy satellite routes to maximize fuel efficiency. Obviously all the changes in this system wouldnít be rolled out at once, breaking it down into a multi-stage proposal is recommended.
Letís make a final review of the previous failures the new system would rectify.
The new bus system reaches farther into the community than ever before.
Given the simplistic structure of the 30 minute loops, and 30 minute B-Line model, building a schedule that coordinates with the major institutions in town would be a simple task.
Given the new format, there are absolutely no routing redundancies and we would be finally using our resources to their maximum potential.
By using the same schedule daily, including weekday evenings and holidays we can finally offer complete service that commuters can trust.
The bus will be hailed as the fastest way to get across town and will become the preference to driving once established.
Mass Transit Advocates
Chilliwack will finally be on the map and will be an option for families looking to settle out of the big city while still being able to work in the big city.
Finally budget, last time I presented at City Council on July 5th the Mayor responded: ďThat money unfortunately comes from DCCís, which are very much legislated how and when we can use them. At this point we canít ever apply and DCCís stand for Development Cost Charges, which you probably know; and are exacted from new homes in our community to pay for growth. At this point we canít take money from DCCís to put into transportation. We are not permitted under legislation to do so.Ē
Upon further reading in the Local Government Act, specifically under section 933, sub section that this upgrade to the transit system would be considered an ďeligible developmentĒ as it directly satisfies the requirement of being ďa development that is designed to result in a low environmental impact.Ē Therefore DCCs could be considered in covering the cost of at the very least the infrastructure upgrades. This budgetary option defiantly could use a second look.
In conclusion, we have explored the current public transit system in Chilliwack, as of August 2010, and explained why it isnít providing adequate service for the commuters. Then we went on to preview a new comprehensive transit plan that will offer satisfactory service for now as well as provide a structured framework for expandability into the future. Finally we closed on a note about a possible budgetary source. Hopefully we can all work together to make the public transit system a priority for all of Chilliwack. Thank you for your time.
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