Thursday January 26, 2012

Local News

Transit The Way They Plans It

Solid draft proposal still lacks Sunday & holiday service

Staff/Voice/Shaw TV images


ichelle Orfield from BC Transit was in council to present council with a draft implementation strategy for the 5 to 25-year plan for transit within the city which will include some rounds of public consultations.


The analysis was begun in earnest in the spring 2011 followed by an update last fall to council with feedback from public consultations.


The plan includes what is called Network Vision and had a regional workshop from which to pull more data from.


Orfield said that they had new information come to light around 2008 FVRD travel data around the Fraser Valley.


The least popular trip - to the most popular trip:

  • Chilliwack to Mission was the least popular trip.

  • Chilliwack to Agassiz and Harrison and Hope approximately 6,800 trips a day.

  • Chilliwack to Metro Vancouver which is largely Surrey Centre and Langley City Centre just under 18,000 daily trips.

  • Chilliwack to Abbotsford, Abbotsford to Mission and Mission to Vancouver all had 27,000 trips daily.

Orfield said that 68 per cent of Chilliwackians take transit to work within the city and said this will be a focus area for BC Transit within the parameters of the plan. She also said that 14% of the trips begin in Chilliwack and end in Abbotsford, 4% end in Langley and 3% to Kent-Harrison and Surrey.

The figures for the Draft were generated from MOTI, Translink and BC Transit including HandiDart service, from Hope to Chilliwack and the Upper Fraser Valley using information from approximately half a million passengers in Chilliwack.


"The top priority for this plan is for the City of Chilliwack is getting to Abbotsford, establishing a transit link," she said adding that "in 25-years, we anticipate that that frequency on the routes will be 15 minutes in the peak, so that's 6 A.M. to 9 A.M. and the 2 P.M. to 5 P.M. or 3 P.M. to 6 P.M. area and then 30 minutes off-peak. midday, evenings and early mornings."


Second down the list is to increase service between Agassiz-Harrison and Chilliwack and in 25-years that will get to a 30-minute peak, 60-minute off-peak frequency.


Hope will see a peak-only  connection in the form of a commuter service along Highway 1 at some point in the future but no timeline was offered and midday service along Highway 9 connecting Hope-Agassiz-Chilliwack.


Orfield said BC Transit is operating at a 26.5% cost recovery but is optimistic that figure will go up as the routes and schedules are adjusted.


This year, or the next, Orfield said that BC Transit will implement trips with frequencies of 20 minutes for Vedder trips, 30 minute cyclical trips around the downtown area, 60 minute Evans Rd. trips and a 60 minute Sardis trips.


"The nice thing about the puple (Sardis) route," explained Orfield "is that people will have many opportunities to connect with the red (Vedder) route."


Existing Chilliwack service covers hourly service on 11 hour a day schedule from 7 A.M. to 6 P.M. Buses won't run that late. Service will be Monday to Wednesday 6 A.M. to 7 P.M., Thursday to Saturday 6 A.M. to 10 P.M. and on Sunday from 10 A.M. to 6 P.M.


Currently, there is no Sunday bus service in Chilliwack, however in the new plan Sunday buses will run from 10 A.M to 6 P.M. albeit eventually, but we transit users shouldn't expect Sunday service until 2013 at least.


The Yarrow-Greendale milk run will continue to see Saturday bus service and the Cultus Lake route will also remain unchanged from it's current schedule. Expanded service will include Seabird Island on the Agassiz-Harrison route.


It's no Vancouver Kootenay Loop of the 1960's but it's all we've got for now.


Orfield says that plans are in the works to review the downtown transit facility.


BC Transit will introduce a Chilliwack-Abbotsford Express service once the aforementioned is in place. Holiday Service should be in place sometime in 2013. Sunday service will be improved.


No one wants to wait for an hour at a bus stop, especially in inclement weather, BC Transit acknowledges this, and will work to establishing a 30 minute frequency on all routes in peak periods.


Seniors will benefit from the new schedule when BC Transit identifies hot zones and areas with more residents who would use the service so more options in terms of shopping routes for them will be added eventually.


Orfield lauded plans for the "Evans Line" which will be implemented with a frequency of 20 minutes. So instead of just running to the mall, it will be created as an alternative route to Vedder Rd.


Once that happens, "you can get anywhere in Chilliwack with one transfer...and should be a pretty slick service."


Coun. Lum asked Orfield how many trips were generated between UFV campuses in Abbotsford and Chilliwack and if there were plans to bring in electronic fare boxes.


On the question of campus-generated trips, to which Orfield replied saying that she would refer back with staff adding that there are plans to roll out fare boxes on Chilliwack in the not-too-distant future.


BC Transit plans public consultations on the draft plan sometime in late February or early March which will allow riders the chance to give feedback on the new proposal.



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