Still hopeful FV Express bus will roll next September

Abbotsford council turned down the long-awaited Fraser Valley Express bus proposal, and some in Chilliwack expressed disappointment

Disappointment is lingering like a thick fog in Chilliwack after Abbotsford council turned down the long-awaited Fraser Valley Express bus proposal.

The new BC Transit bus route proposal requires agreement in principle from partnering municipalities including Chilliwack and Abbotsford to create the transit service area in each municipality. Chilliwack has already backed the plan, as has the Fraser Valley Regional District.

“From my perspective it’s about having patience. Three councillors felt they didn’t have enough information to vote for it,” said Mayor Sharon Gaetz, adding she hopes staff can provide the missing details.

Given that an election looms, city councils must be painfully aware of fiscal realities.

“But from where I stand, it’s absolutely imperative we get this going as soon as we can,” said Gaetz.

Transit users from University of the Fraser Valley have been actively lobbying for and eagerly awaiting a bus link between cities.

“Chilliwack took that seriously, and I know Abbotsford did, too,” said Gaetz.

There was hope the express bus could begin service in September 2014.

The matter is being brought back for reconsideration again next month at Abbotsford mayor Bruce Banman’s request.

Chilliwack council approved the creation of the service area for the new express bus route from Chilliwack, to Abbotsford and then to Langley.

“I think Abbotsford is assessing what is still in their coffers,” Gaetz said.

City of Chilliwack is putting away funds for the anticipated transit costs.

The total annual budget for the FV Express is $1,677,800. Chilliwack’s 20% share is $333,764, while Abbotsford’s 35% portion is $588,236, and BC Transit’s is $755,800. The municipal portions are based on assessed values of residential homes.

Coun. Jason Lum mentioned he was disappointed to see the transit proposal turned down in Abbotsford, but he suspects it will be just a minor setback.

“I think there’s lots of transit momentum being built. We need to continue in that direction.

“I feel for the people that got their hopes up. We hope it doesn’t put the start date of September 2014 in peril.”

His guess is that they’ll bring it back and take another good look after getting the necessary financial information.

“Perhaps once they get the information they are requesting, they will be able to move forward more comfortably with the route.”

jfeinberg@theprogress.com

Twitter.com/chwkjourno