Tuesday, April 22, 2008

South Fraser Gets New Rubbers

TransLink Chair Dale Parker today joined by Mayor Dianne Watts of Surrey, Mayor Kurt Alberts, Township of Langley, and Mayor Peter Fassbender, City of Langley for an official announcement of the new bus services for Surrey, Delta, White Rock, the City of Langley and the Township of Langley. Under a windy tent in Surrey with plenty of hot coffee and donuts, Parker said,

Residents living in this area have told us they want alternatives to driving personal vehicles, but they need service that is more reliable and more frequent, and with a greater chance of getting a seat. The improvements now in place help to give them that.

New, clean-diesel coaches running low-sulphur diesel and using diesel particulate filters are replacing older diesel buses. The new buses are quieter and pollute less.

TransLink’s news release says that public input led to more frequent transit routes offering service every 15 minutes or less, 15 hours a day, every day. The proportion of south of Fraser residents living within walking distance (450 metres) of an FTN (frequent transit network) bus route is gradually increasing. Around Metro Vancouver, 47 % of residents will be within walking distance this year, and by 2010, that figure will go up to 50 %.

SFOT always views more transit options as a good and positive thing for our communities. Anything that will increase community transportation in the south of the Fraser region will help us while we await other solutions. As Mayor Kurt Alberts reminded the media today, perhaps as much as 90% of the trips in the south Fraser remain east of the Port Mann Bridge, or within the region.

New, cleaner buses are always a plus to improve our air quality in the south Fraser and we support that 100%. We are always happy to hear that the three mayors agreed that they will continue to chase TransLink for more services in the South Fraser to further reduce our transit deficit.

Regarding light rail and SkyTrain questions from the media, Mayor Dianne Watts said that her staff was receiving comparative information (SkyTrain & LRT) from the Ministry of Transportation, and they will be reviewing that. She indicated they have not made up their minds. Mayor Fassbender who has spoken often about buses in the past, said that the area mayors are less interested in the mode, and more focused on frequency and greater options.

We don’t want to be mean-spirited or appear to be slamming TransLink here. We have been supportive of them in the past. But obviously because this was an announcement on new bus service, no one was addressing the fact that around the world, and particularly in North America, people overwhelmingly favour light rail over other modes of transportation. It is clearly light rail that is getting people out of their cars in North America and we still don’t see why it wouldn’t work here. Dale Parker said, “The South Fraser need better transit, but without a corridor of density we have a challenge.” So once again we are back to the density issue, and you have to if you are TransLink building expensive SkyTrain. But they seem to be able to build much cheaper light rail everywhere else as we speak. Why is that? Not to mention the safety aspects that could lower ICBC costs and rates.

The media did press on about light rail vs. SkyTrain. I was thinking that possibly the politicians felt this light rail discussion might put a damper on the new bus service that was being announced.

TransLink’s plans for the South Fraser in the future call for Rapid Bus Services, but I found it interesting that many cities are scrapped bus rapid transit (BRT) for light rail solutions. I hope we can all work together and try a healthy experiment in light rail. I think the density is there, and more will come. It is not a field of dreams. I still hold on to the belief that our leaders have our best interests at heart and will see the case for light rail to ease our congestion nightmare, and the stress it places on our friends and neighbors. We hope to get more rail and less rubber soon.

SFOT Information Database

From TransLink - South of Fraser Service Improvements

# 311, #319 & #502 will have more trips during the morning rush hours; the #320, #321 & #501 will see more service throughout the day; and there will be extended hours on the #335 and #341. These will benefit customers traveling within the South Fraser area, such as between Surrey and Langley or from one area of Surrey to another.

More new highway coaches serving South Delta, Richmond and White Rock.

Frequent Transit Network Expands

The Frequent Transit Network (FTN) is made up of routes in which buses run no more than 15 minutes apart, 15 hours a day, seven days a week (15/15/7).

  • Three more routes (#100, #410 & #135) are officially being added to that list, largely due to lengthening the period in which buses run every 15 minutes or less.
  • The FTN is expanding so that by the end of this year, 46% of the Metro Vancouver residents will be living within walking distance (450 metres) of an FTN route. By 2010, that figure will be 50%.
  • The FTN continues to expand south of the Fraser, and many routes now offer frequency of 15 minutes or less, although not yet at the 15/15/7 level.

1 comment:

Grumpy said...

One can see TransLink's bus-only mindset, they don't have the collective intelligence to plan for LRT!

Anyone can add buses to a bus route; anyone can build rapid transit for $100 million+/km.; only smart planners can build LRT for $20 million/km.

Buses are seen a 'looser cruisers' and no matter how one 'tarts' them up, a bus, is a bus, is a bus.

Study after study has shown that LRT would attract more new ridership than buses, when planned for a transit route. Not just a few more riders, but 30% to 50% more riders!

All TransLink is doing is providing more buses, for the same riders, but they are deluding themselves, as well as transit customers, that the new enhanced (more expensive) bus service will do anything to solve endemic congestion and pollution.

BRT hasn't worked, just where has it?

As I said before, it takes intelligence to plan, design, and build with LRT and TransLink and the Transportation ministry are wanting in this field.