Largest transit expansion on deck for Chilliwack

Public consultations are May 22 at Coast Chilliwack Hotel Fraser Room from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m., on May 23 at UFV on CEP 2 p.m. to 4 p.m.

Proposed changes to the Chilliwack Transit System could mean the largest expansion in the history of the transit system is on its way.

BC Transit planner Michelle Orfeld was at Chilliwack City Hall to brief council on the highlights of Chilliwack’s 3-Year Service Plan Tuesday.

One of the ideas is extending the popular Route 1 to the north and south, going as far as Menzies to better serve local school district needs, and down south to Tyson to serve the south side’s growing community, development and UFV.

“Those were some of the major concerns so we’re happy to add a bus and extend the route,” said Orfeld.

Ridership numbers are way up in Chilliwack ever since last summer’s transit redesign when the last set of changes were unveiled.

In fact, April 2013 saw the highest ever one-month ridership total with 34,300 people getting on a Chilliwack bus. Of that total, 21,400 were riding on Route 1, which zooms up and down the Vedder-Yale corridor every 20 minutes.

In all two new buses are part of the proposed changes, one for Route 1 and another to add on to neighbourhood service, with a proposed total of 7,500 extra hours of service.

“It’s the largest expansion by far ever in Chilliwack,” said Orfeld, adding that the changes came from the wants and desires expressed by the public.

The Chilliwack share of the expansion costs has already been budgeted by city officials.

BC Transit officials worked with the city’s transit advisory committee to address specific issues after riders offered comments and feedback during consultation sessions after the route changes were made last summer.

Now they’re looking to extend evening and weekend and holiday service hours, making the schedule uniform from Monday to Saturday, and introducing holiday bus service at a Sunday level.

The last item being considered for the first year of the plan is to remedy some of the lost service sacrificed in the streamlining by re-establishing service to northeast and southwest parts of the city.

Year two will see the long-awaited Abbotsford/Chilliwack Express, as well as proposed earlier start and later end of service times.

For the Agassiz-Harrison bus, “one of the most successful” routes, they’re looking at fixing the over-capacity issues with an added bus, or replacing smaller ones with buses with added capacity.

“We’re looking for feedback.”

Public consultations are set for May 22 at the Coast Chilliwack Hotel Fraser Room from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m., on May 23 at UFV on CEP 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. and May 23, in District of Kent chambers 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.