Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Riding BC Transit's 66X through the Fraser Valley - Part 2: An introduction to Abbotsforward

Yesterday, I posted about the first part of the journey that Paul Hillsdon and I took along the Fraser Valley Express/66X on the weekend. After our brief stop in Downtown Chilliwack, Paul and I boarded the 66X back to Abbotsford. We disembarked at the McCallum Road Park and Ride, just south of Highway 1. The journey took around 35 minutes.

Patrick Oystryk, a planner with the City of Abbotsford, met us at the Park and Ride. One of our first orders of business was to catch a local BC Transit bus to Historic Downtown Abbotsford to have lunch.

Patrick and Paul at the 66X bus stop at McCallum Road. Select image to enlarge.

We were going to take the 3 Clearbrook – UFV. This route is marketed as a “frequent” transit route. I say “frequent” because service is every 30 minutes most of the day with every 15 minutes service during weekday peak periods. In Metro Vancouver, we would call this a regular bus route.

True frequent transit is 15 minutes or better service all day, every day. The perfect example is the 502 which I take along Fraser Highway. During peak periods, there is a bus every 5 minutes with off-peak service every 15 minutes.

Interestingly, the number 3 doesn’t stop at the same bus stop as the 66X. One of the other odd things I noticed about Abbotsford’s transit system was that its bus stops are mid-block. They are not at intersections like in Metro Vancouver which helps people transfer between routes, and get to their preferred side of the street safely.

At the McCallum Road interchange, people walking and cycling are forced to share a small sidewalk. Select image to enlarge.

I asked Patrick about Abbotsford’s mid-block bus stop configuration. He told me that this was to done to reduce the delays that buses may cause to people driving their personal automobiles. This is very different to how transportation planning is done in cities like Surrey. As you may imagine, this bus stop configuration causes people to cross roads without using crosswalks.

Unfortunately, we just missed the bus by a few minutes. Missing the 3 foreshowed other challenges we would experience with Abbotsford's transit system throughout the day.

Because we missed the bus, Patrick, Paul, and I decided to walk from the Park and Ride to Downtown Abbotsford.

This was actually a great walk, even if we had to squeeze between utility poles that were installed in the middle of the sidewalk along McCallum, because Patrick was able to tell us about the Abbotsforward Official Community Plan update process.

Most communities that update their Official Community Plan do public outreach as part of the update process. Most of the time, this involves a municipality advertising that people should attend one of their events.

Because Abbotsford wants this plan to truly represent the vision of all people who live in the community, instead of expecting people to come to city events, the City has come to them. Patrick told us that he has been all over the community, reaching out to residents, and getting their feedback about what they would like future Abbotsford to look like. Because the City of Abbotsford has decided to reach out to the community, Patrick told use that the feedback has been amazing.

One of the other cool things about the Abbotsforward plan is that it is based on how the community should look like, and what services should be available, based on certain population targets. Most Official Community Plan are based on year targets.

For example, it makes more sense to plan for an expanded community center when the population increases by 20,000, then to expand a community centre just because it happens to be 2020. It also makes more sense to plan a transportation network based on population as well.

I’m looking forward to seeing the Abbotsforward plan adopted by Abbotsford City Council because I believe it will move Abbotsford forward, along the path of sustainability.

Paul, Nathan, and Patrick: a selfie in Downtown Abbotsford. Select image to enlarge.

After about 20 minutes, Patrick, Paul, and I arrived in Downtown Abbotsford for lunch. Tomorrow, I will be posting about our adventure getting from Downtown to the High Street Mall on the other side of town via BC Transit.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Abbotsforward is great, my only concern is that after all the hard work is done, city hall will ignore it and continue granting exemptions anytime someone asks, simply because they won't say no to any development. Cabelas for example, which had to be rezoned because it didn't fit the zoning of the existing ocp, and was approved even though it clearly won't fit with the 7 big ideas proposed for the new ocp by Abbotsforward. I feel there is a lot of strong talk, but hope that the action follows.