Chilliwack transit users have witnessed unprecedented growth in the past year.
And it’s clear by last week’s FVRD decision that even better days are ahead.
The regional board approved plans for a transit line that will link Chilliwack with Langley, through Abbotsford. The bus will finally join transit systems within the three cities, and provide an important link to the TransLink system of Metro Vancouver.
The decision still needs the support of city councils in both Chilliwack and Abbotsford. However, given the support city representatives showed in approving the FVRD decision, that support seems likely.
And well it should be.
Up until now moving between Chilliwack, Abbotsford and beyond required a vehicle. Yes, there was the Greyhound bus, and this year students at the University of the Fraser Valley have banded together to offer a shuttle service between campuses in Chilliwack and Abbotsford.
But not since the days of BC Electric has there been a regular and reliable link between the cities.
If approved, the bus line will not only provide Chilliwack commuters with access to Abbotsford, it will also link with express lines in Langley that tie into the the SkyTrain system that taxpayers here helped build.
But the river runs both ways. It means people who work in Chilliwack but live somewhere else, will have a more economical way to get to work.
And that’s good news for the local economy. True, no one wants to see Chilliwack become a bedroom community to the rest of the Lower Mainland. We want to see jobs here, and businesses that contribute to the tax base and local economy. But those businesses need employees who have reliable and affordable access to their jobs.
There has long been a call for a commuter train to fill this need, and those how have advocated for a rail line may be disappointed. But an express bus is an important first step. Ridership numbers will provide important data on the viability of that option – and the eventual total integration of Lower Mainland rapid transit.