Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Viable Transit Options in Langley: Taking the new Port Mann RapidBus

Over the last several days, I have been experimenting with different public transit routes from my home in Langley City to my work near the Olympic Village in Vancouver. Since the new 555 RapidBus service was introduced across the Port Mann Bridge in December, I thought it would be time to reevaluate transit routes. There are three viable routes I can take between my place and my work during peak periods (There are other routes, but the time to get between home and work would take longer than 2 hours.)

The first route option is to take the 502 along Fraser Highway to King George SkyTrain Station, catch the Expo Line to Main Street, and walk to my work. Door to door travel time is about 1h30 in the morning and 1h50 in the afternoon. While this option requires the least amount of transfers and is generally the fastest route most times of the day, congestion along Fraser Highway between King George and 152nd Street during afternoon peak period slows things right down. It is bad that there isn’t a bus lane along that section of Fraser Highway when you considered the amount of people that transit carries along the corridor. I know Fraser Highway will be widened in that area, but transit will still not be prioritized. Transportation planners need to stop thinking about how to best move vehicles and start thinking about how to best move people.

The second route option is to walk to Langley Centre and take the 595 to the West Coast Express, catch the West Coast Express into Waterfront Station, than take the Canada Line to Olympic Village Station. Door to door travel time is up to 2 hours. While this route is the most comfortable and includes washrooms on the train, it can take the most amount of time.

The third option is to walk to Langley Centre and take the 595 to Carvolth Exchange, catch the 555 RapidBus to Braid Station, take the Millennium Line to VCC-Clark, than transfer to the 84 and get off near my work. Door to door travel time is 1h20 if I make all the connection and can increase to 1h40 if I miss a connection. Interesting enough, though I have to make 3 transfers, this route is actually the fastest option during peak periods. During the rest of the day, taking 502 is the best option. Taking the 555 now for a few days, I’m very happy to report that the bus is always full. I can see how this is a new valuable service for people who live in Walnut Grove. While it takes about the same time for people who work right in downtown Vancouver as the West Coast Express, the new 555 RapidBus runs more often and can shave about 20 minutes off connecting into the SkyTrain network for access to other parts of the region.

If you have a car and can drive to Carvolth Exchange, you actually have many viable options to get to other parts of the region on transit. The main issue is that there is no viable transit options into areas like Walnut Grove; all trips must still start in a car. The other main issue is that transit service is still sub-standard for connections into Surrey; where the majority of trips from Langley end up.

I’ll continue to take the 502 and SkyTrain as it requires the least amount of transfers and, besides afternoon peak periods, can take the least amount of time. I’m still looking forward to the new 503 RapidBus service along Fraser Highway that TransLink plans to introduce later this year.

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