Friday, June 6, 2008

Abbotsford Inter-Regional Transportation Select Committee - Part 2

I was at the second meeting of the Abbotsford Inter-Regional Transportation Select Committee last night. This committee will report back to Abbotsford Council by October 2008 on regional transportation issues.

The committee represents a broad range of views: everyone from the Abbotsford Chamber, City, BC Transit, and transportation planners to “activists” like myself. Getting such a diverse group of people to come to a consensus is quite a challenge, but at the end of this meeting a motion was made, and passed, that states we want to see a regional transit system that connects Abbotsford, Langley, and Surrey.

While this may seem trivial, it is an important first step. It will allow the group to focus on how and where we want this system to work.

According to 2004 Translink/BC Ministry of Transportation surveys, more and more people are making trips outside of the Abbotsford region. 4% go to Mission, 4% go to Chilliwack, and a full 11% go into Metro Vancouver. Of the trips into Metro Vancouver, 60% go into Langley and Surrey. That’s 22,000 trips a day. To put that into context, Mission (with the West Coast Express) has only 13,900 trips a day into all of Metro Vancouver. There are also 37,000 trips a day from Surrey and Langley into the Fraser Valley Regional District. Compare that to only 16,100 trips from Langley into Burnaby and Vancouver.

Another point that kept on coming up: transit spending will need to increase (ie: more local taxes) if we truly want to attract people to transit in the Fraser Valley. It was noted that Whistler, with a population equivalent of 26,023, and Abbotsford, with a population of 123,864, have the same amount of buses. Also, there was a strong desire to see the Abbotsford Airport and all the universities in the South Fraser/Fraser Valley connected to this regional system. Abbotsford Airport seemed very excited about restoring the Interurban service.

The committee also received a letter that came as a result of the May 5th Langley Township Council meeting to get a South of the Fraser Transit/Transportation Task Force started. The Abbotsford Committee recommended to Abbotsford City Council that Councillor Harris and Councillor Loewen be selected for the Langley Task Force.

The next meeting will be in one month.

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