Faster and better bus routes could be coming down the line for Chilliwack transit users.
A Transit Future Plan update was presented by BC Transit planner Michelle Orfield at last week’s council meeting at Chilliwack city hall.
“It’s starting to happen,” said Mayor Sharon Gaetz. “Everyone on council is supportive and we can hardly wait to get the new Abbotsford line going.”
Funding could be earmarked in next year’s budget for a new Abbotsford-to-Chilliwack express, Gaetz said.
The transit plan also includes local changes with the creation of a shopping shuttle, a new green-coloured Evans route, with buses every 60 minutes, as well as a blue route around Chilliwack proper every half-hour.
Local transit users have been pushing for a bus going past Stream to Walmart at Eagle Landing, ever since the mega-store moved out of the Chilliwack Mall.
“I think people will be thrilled to hear what’s coming,” said Gaetz.
Stopping at several shopping areas, the long-awaited Evans route is part of some major route restructuring and improved service frequency in phase one of the Transit Future Plan, which is expected to see implementation in the “near future.”
Even faster than either the Evans Route or the Chilliwack Route will be the red-coloured Vedder route, a north-south express, zipping up and down the Yale-Vedder corridor every 20 minutes.
“They’re saying 20 minutes but we’re aiming for an even shorter turnaround time,” Gaetz added.
Most local buses currently run every 60 minutes, but they’re striving toward the gold standard of 15-minute bus service within Chilliwack in the long-term.
“So much can change in 25 years,” said Mayor Gaetz. “But it’s good to see we’re on the same page.
“I think people are going to be very pleased.”
The new Vedder route will provide ridership with “a really fantastic level of service,” said Michelle Orfield, BC transit planner, during her presentation to Chilliwack council on Jan. 23.
The changes are part of a 25-year BC transit vision for local networks, regional and inter-regional transit. The introduction of Sunday bus service is being looked at, along with expanded weekday service.
Some of the transit improvements have been in the works for years, but are contingent upon new sources of funding.
“The challenges around transportation is that there are always lots of partners involved and we can’t just order another bus,” said Gaetz. “But we’re looking forward to the next phase.”
BC transit and ridership fares provide the other pieces of the transit funding pie.
The transit future plan work began in spring 2011, with initial consultations held in summer and fall. Presenting the update to councils by BC Transit reps is continuing, followed by phase two of public consultations.