TransLink has announced a trio of new routes that will anchor the planned next phase of its rapid transit expansion in the Lower Mainland.
The proposed Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) routes will use higher-capacity buses that use traffic signal priority and off-board fare collection to further speed up travel.
“Bus Rapid Transit is the best possible bus service, rapid transit with traffic separated bus lanes, high frequencies and rail-like stations for boarding,” TransLink CEO Kevin Quinn said, calling the plan a transit “game-changer.”
Each of the three routes announced Thursday will link communities to existing or planned SkyTrain lines. They include:
- King George Boulevard from Surrey Centre to White Rock
- Langley Centre to Haney Place (Maple Ridge)
- Metrotown (Burnaby) to North Shore (West Vancouver)
The King George Boulevard route will connect the Surrey Central SkyTrain station to Guildford, Surrey Memorial Hospital, Bear Creek Park, Newton Centre, South Surrey Park & Ride and Semiahmoo Centre.
The Langley-Haney Place route will connect Langley Centre and the Haney Place Exchange in Maple Ridge via 200th Street, the Golden Ears Bridge and Lougheed Highway.
The Metrotown-North Shore route will connect a variety of key locations including Park Royal, Capilano Mall, Lower Lonsdale, Lower Lynn, Burnaby Heights, Brentwood, BCIT and Metrotown.
Quinn said with the new routes announced, TransLink will immediately begin planning work to flesh out the proposals.
Specific alignment, designs, costs and timelines associated with the routes have yet to be determined.
TransLink is bullish on the BRT model, in part because of its low capital cost compared with SkyTrain or light rail, and the fact routes can be built in as little as two to four years. The regional transportation and transit agency hopes to roll out nine such routes in the next decade as a part of its Access for Everyone plan — which currently remains unfunded.
“The three new corridors being announced today have been selected to maximize people’s access to rapid transit based on ridership potential, future housing and population growth projections as well as strong support from mayors to bring these properties to their communities,” TransLink Mayors’ Council chair Brad West said.
According to TransLink, bus ridership on its system has rebounded faster than any city in North America, and in some areas has eclipsed pre-pandemic levels by startling numbers.
TransLink statistics show bus ridership in Surrey and Langley is at 120 per cent of pre-pandemic levels, while some routes like the #310 from Surrey to Ladner have seen ridership more than double.
West said the proposed BRT lines will also help the region meet its requirements under new transit-oriented development legislation unveiled this month by the provincial government.
Along with BRT, the 10-year Access for Everyone plan envisions doubling bus service in the region, the extension of the under-construction Broadway subway line to the University of British Columbia, the construction of a gondola to Simon Fraser University, 450 kilometres of new traffic-separated bike lanes and studying possible SkyTrain extensions to Newton in Surrey and Port Coquitlam.
The TransLink Mayors’ Council has yet to secure funding commitments from the provincial or federal governments for their share of 10-year Access for Everyone plan’s estimated $21-billion price tag.
In fact, as recently as last month, TransLink warned that a structural deficit from fare shortfalls, falling gas tax revenue and inflation could result in a $4.7-billion funding gap in the next decade, which — if unresolved — could result in service cuts of up to 60 per cent.