Print Edition: March 12, 2014
Plans to reshape public transit in Abbotsford and Mission are now available for public viewing, and are currently targeted to come into effect in August.
B.C. Transit’s proposed changes would see a major reworking of bus routes. Some have been streamlined and will serve fewer low-ridership areas, a number have been split apart and recombined into more direct connections, and many will emerge under new names to reflect the difference.
For UFV students, there will be a move to more frequent service. The Abbotsford campus, served now by the #3 (UFV-Clearbrook) and #12 (UFV-Bourquin), would instead be reachable by the #1 (S. Fraser Way) and #31 (Abbotsford-Mission Connector), with the #1 running every 15 minutes until 7 p.m. on weekdays.
Weekend service is planned to be set at every half-hour on both Saturday (same as it currently is) and Sunday (an increase from every hour). To better serve students commuting from Mission, the #31 will have express runs during peak hours (6 to 9 a.m. and 3 to 5 p.m.) that go directly to the Abbotsford campus instead of diverting to the Bourquin Exchange.
In addition, while under the current system all routes converge and leave from Bourquin, the new system shifts most of them over to the Downtown exchange, which has a smaller waiting area, but also sees lighter traffic.
Many of the new routes contain pieces of current ones (the #1 is partly the same path to UFV, partly the current Bluejay line along South Fraser Way), but some have been left out along the way. No bus to UFV will travel along the sections of Ware and Marshall currently covered by the #12.
Senior transit planner Rebecca Newlove says these changes have been considered, and expects passengers will be able to adapt.
“[We] hope that the trips students take [mean] that even if they have to take a transfer, they’d still be able to get to their destination in a good time because the frequency’s been improved,” she says.
With no increase in spending, B.C. Transit’s plan is based around “improved efficiency, increased ridership, and service equity.” The knowledge that a bus will always be within 15 minutes of travelling down South Fraser Way or arriving at UFV will make using public transit less of a challenge.
However, the correlating adjustments of reduced service in lower traffic areas will mean more walking or transfers for some passengers. B.C. Transit notes that they are aware of the effects this will likely have in their proposal document.
“The changes proposed will negatively affect some existing passengers but on the whole are projected to be positive,” it reads. “A preliminary and very conservative estimate of impacts that takes into account possible ridership losses as well as gains from the changes proposed shows that the proposals in the first year would likely result in an additional 48,450 passenger trips (up two per cent over 2013/14 budget) and $46,500 in revenue (up 1.6 per cent). Further ridership and revenue gains would accrue in following years [as] the restructured system stabilizes and matures.”
Elsewhere, the #34 route reaching Mission’s Heritage Park campus remains unchanged, and service to UFV’s Aerospace Centre, while a part of #17 (Industrial) instead of the Aldergrove Connector, stays at one morning trip, two in the afternoon.
The recently-approved Chilliwack-Langley connector, slated to begin operation in 2015, is not part of this transit proposal, which deals only with current routes. But Newlove says it is part of the same overall plan, and could potentially link to Abbotsford’s service via the McCallum interchange.
“We’re very much aware of that future project and how these proposals will connect with it,” she says.