Better bus service arrives in Chilliwack

Chilliwack council has approved a plan that will dramatically revamp transit service in the city.

Waiting for change is like waiting for a bus.

Sometimes it feels like it takes forever.

For Chilliwack transit users, the wait is nearly over.

On Tuesday council approved a plan that will dramatically revamp transit service in the city.

The plan doesn’t just modify bus routes. It totally changes the way transit service is delivered, improving frequency, shortening travel times, rationalizing routes, and positioning the system to carry Chilliwack into the decades ahead.

The changes are only the first step in a broader plan that could eventually give Chilliwack a regional transit system that connects the city with Abbotsford and Hope.

For now, the most noticeable change will be frequency.

Currently, buses run every hour in Chilliwack; miss one and the penalty is severe. The new system will bring buses twice as often on most routes. Along the Vedder/Yale corridor, they will run every 20 minutes.

All this is being done with the addition of just one more bus, thanks to a major overhaul of all the routes.

Convenience is key to improving transit use. Those who have no alternative will use the bus regardless. For others, a car is an easy choice if missing a bus by three minutes means an hour wait.

Securing riders who “choose” to take the bus is a critical step in creating a modern, sustainable transit system that we can all benefit from. More transit users mean fewer cars on the road, which improves our air quality, eases congestion and lowers our overall infrastructure costs.

Granted, that convenience comes with a cost. Fares in 2013 will jump 25 per cent, moving to $2 for an adult fare from $1.50.

But transit planners are confident riders will appreciate the more convenient service and by then be willing to pay for it.

After all, they’ve waited long enough.