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Ridership in Chilliwack and area on the rise again

The numbers tell the transit tale. Chilliwack saw 545,811 people get on a bus in 2013/14, up from 517,050 in 2012/13, according to figures from the BC Transit Annual Report.  - JENNA HAUCK/ PROGRESS
The numbers tell the transit tale. Chilliwack saw 545,811 people get on a bus in 2013/14, up from 517,050 in 2012/13, according to figures from the BC Transit Annual Report.
— image credit: JENNA HAUCK/ PROGRESS

Municipal transit partners are "delighted" ridership is up again in both the Chilliwack and Agassiz-Harrison areas.

Ridership in Chilliwack saw an increase of 5.6% over last year, while Agassiz-Harrison saw an even greater spike of 10.5%, according to a release from Fraser Valley Regional District, City of Chilliwack and BC Transit.

BC Transit recorded 43,633 passenger trips in 2013/14 for Agassiz-Harrison compared to 39,484 trips in 2012/13.

Chilliwack saw 545,811 trips in 2013/14, up from 517,050 trips in 2012/13, according to figures from the BC Transit Annual Report.

In Chilliwack, the largest transit expansion ever attempted last fall in the Chilliwack Transit System resulted in a significant spike in ridership.

Growth on route #1 along the Vedder/Yale corridor was pegged at 15% over the past nine months, and it's seen as the "driving force" behind the system-wide increases.

"We've been seeing steady increases in ridership," said Coun. Chuck Stam, who is also chair of the city's Transportation Advisory Council "Some of those were markedly apparent after the service improvements we saw with the expansion."

When partners make significant investments in transit improvements like this, it's always "reassuring to see those numbers increase," correspondingly.

"This is even better than we expected," noted Stam.

It was hoped they'd see increases in ridership over time, but the public really delivered in Chilliwack by getting on the bus more often than ever this year.

Stam also credited the cooperation of BC Transit, a 50 per cent partner, which has "bellied up and invested" in all the changes.

Some routes were dropped while the #1 route saw growth from offering speedier service every 20-minutes along the Yale-Vedder corridor.

Sharon Gaetz, Mayor of the City of Chilliwack and Chair of the Fraser Valley Regional District acknowledged the "positive growth" in ridership.

"We listened to the needs of our residents and made planning trips easier through Google maps and the online transit trip planner.”

Both MLAs also praised the news of increased ridership.

“Expansion of the BC Transit network in Chilliwack and the eastern Fraser Valley has paid off in growing numbers of people taking the bus to school, work and recreation opportunities,” said Chilliwack MLA John Martin.

All the improvements are adding up.

"What we're doing is making transit more relevant," said Stam, "and people are responding because it suits their lifestyles and travel habits."

They're not quite there yet in terms of getting people out of their vehicles completely.

"It requires a much higher level of urban density in order to achieve the sustainable model," he said.

Next up is the expected introduction of the Fraser Valley express in 2015, with transit to Langley and connections to Metro Vancouver.

"That will be the next opportunity where we expect to see increases in ridership," Stam added. "Commuters will get a viable alternative to driving their cars."

Anyone wanting to plan a bus trip on the local transit system, can go on-line with Google Map or Bing. For more details on transit call 604.892.5559 or www.bctransit.com/regions/agh

jfeinberg@theprogress.com

twitter.com/chwkjourno

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