Friday, January 4, 2013

Thoughts on the Carvolth Exchange and Port Mann Express Bus

It has been about a month since the Carvolth Exchange opened and the new bus service over the Port Mann Bridge between the exchange and Braid SkyTrain Station started. I’ve had the opportunity to take the new express bus service as have some of my friends. The general agreement is that from the moment you get on the bus to the moment you get to Downtown Vancouver is about an hour which is a major improvement over the past, and that the service is cost and time competitive with the new jumbo-sized Highway 1.

There are a few issues that I see with the Carvolth Exchange. The general design for rapid transit in the region has been to avoid park and ride lots. TransLink actually has a policy of not building park and ride lots at SkyTrain stations. A parking lot is dead space whether it is for transit or a strip mall. Park and ride surface parking lots can really limit transit-oriented development potential and create a poor public realm. Just talk to Calgary about their issues with connecting transit and land-use. It is also interesting to note that the parking lot at Scott Road SkyTrain may be turning into a transit-oriented development in the future. Of course as Willoughby develops, I can imagine that the Carvolth Exchange park and ride lot will be developed into something more productive.

There are other issues with the express bus service. First, the bus service is not frequent enough outside of peak periods and more importantly does not connect into Surrey which is the destination of the majority of inter-municipal Langley trips. Also, the bus service does not go into Walnut Grove or Willoughby which is a key requirement for giving people true transportation choice. If you are lucky enough to have bus service in Walnut Grove or Willoughby, you may have to wait up to 30 minutes for your bus to Carvolth Exchange and then wait another 30 minutes for the express bus to Braid SkyTrain Station. The reality is that you need to drive to Carvolth Exchange for the express bus to be a viable service and to me that is not good transit planning. While giving people the option to drive to a rapid transit station is certainly good, the main goal of transit should be to give people a viable option to avoid driving altogether. Of course the real reason why the express bus service does not go into Surrey, Walnut Grove or Willoughby is because TransLink doesn’t have the cash. I can only hope that if the funding situation is ever resolved with TransLink, TransLink will transform the Port Mann express bus into a proper rapid transit-type service.


Brad Richert said...

Hey Nathan,
What are your thoughts on the new Highstreet Development in regards to this?

We seem to be focused with heading out West, which is fair due to that is where the jobs are, but what about development heading East? While I wouldn't consider much of Abbotsford's development as "sustainable", I believe Highstreet will be a game changer for the city as far as economic development goes.

Personally, I will sooner go east to Abbotsford's Highstreet for shopping than South Surrey's Morgan Crossing or Burnaby's Metrotown, both of which seem to be the main competition.

It would be great, at least at this time, to utilize the park and ride and use public transportation for our premiere shopping center in the Fraser Valley.

I do agree with you, however, that the park and ride space could use a bit more innovation. When I go out to Vancouver, I often drive to Metrotown, park underneath, and take Skytrain in. Having commercial/retail above what is essentially a park and ride is a much better use of the land than the current.

Nathan Pachal said...

The High Street Development does not have any residential, turns it back to the street, and ground level is parking, but it is more compact than anything else. It also is a drive to destination right now. I wonder what effect on business in the walkable core of Abby?

Blair said...

So Nathan what would you suggest in lieu of a park and ride when Translink is unwilling (and frankly unable) to provide extensive transit in the area. Carvolth is the outer station on a new system and as such needs a park and ride. Sure in Vancouver a park and ride wouldn't be useful but in Langley where most of the Town is not serviced by reasonable Transit a park and ride is the only way to get to the fast bus in the first place.

Nathan Pachal said...

Yes, though I don't think a bus every 30 minutes to Vancouver will capture a large market.