View Full Version : Fraser Valley Transportation Discussion
November 24th, 2009, 07:23 PM
Fraser Valley residents left out of the bus loop
TransLink CEO Tom Prendergast says the Metro Vancouver transit authority is not properly serving Fraser Valley residents.
Black Press photo
Published: September 22, 2009 1:00 PM
Updated: September 22, 2009 1:37 PM
0 Comments Langley and other areas south of the Fraser River are not receiving proper transit service, TransLink CEO Tom Prendergast told the Greater Langley Chamber of Commerce last Tuesday (Sept. 15).
“There is really no transit service south of the Fraser,” he said. “It is almost impossible to take transit from Vancouver to here.”
TransLink has been trying to improve services, both south of the Fraser and in the core metropolitan area, but in doing so “has been living beyond its means for several years,” Prendergast said.
“The day of reckoning is fast approaching.”
He said that one reason he took the job with TransLink was the fact that it combined responsibility for transit and major roads. In a long career in both the public and private sector, including a stint as president of Long Island Railroad, the largest commuter rail system in the U.S., he has often been responsible for one or the other — but not both.
Prendergast wants to explore road pricing in the Lower Mainland as a possible means to raise enough revenue for TransLink to continue expanding its services. He said putting a value on services, such as the toll on the Golden Ears Bridge, is the fairest way to pay for those services.
With growth continuing in the Lower Mainland, Prendergast said it is imperative that there be better road and transit options, but TransLink will not consider expansion on a large scale until it can find a secure source of funding. It is holding off on signing onto building the Evergreen rapid transit line in Coquitlam because it does not have the capital funds for the project, even though the federal and provincial governments have pledged to provide some of the capital funds.
In response to questions, he said that he wants to see turnstiles at SkyTrain stations, in conjunction with Smart Cards for payment.
He is in support of a pilot light rail project using the Interurban line, and would back grant applications for a group that wished to take that project on.
He said it is important that Abbotsford eventually become part of the TransLink system, but he acknowledged that it is unlikely to do so when neighbouring Langley has not received much in the way of transit service.
Abbotsford will one day be the largest city in the Lower Mainland, he said, noting that Surrey will surpass Vancouver in 30 years and eventually Abbotsford will surpass Surrey.
November 24th, 2009, 07:29 PM
Tight timelines for local mega-projects
Published: November 18, 2009 3:00 PM
Updated: November 18, 2009 3:45 PM
0 Comments The City of Abbotsford is facing a race against time to build three multi-million-dollar projects in less than 18 months, or risk paying more than its share.
The city has received provincial and federal funding for new Highway 1 interchanges at Clearbrook Road and McCallum Road.
Cash has also been pledged for a taxiway at the Abbotsford airport, situated parallel to the runway to allow planes to clear the way more quickly, shortening the time for aircraft landing and taking off.
The funding for all three has been split three ways, with Victoria, Ottawa and city each paying $8.3 million for the two interchanges, and $10 million apiece for the airport work.
The federal government’s portion has been granted as part of its Economic Action Plan, which requires the projects be completed by March 31, 2011. Past that deadline, the city will lose any of the federal money it has not spent by that date and be responsible to pay the remainder.
Despite the tight timeline, city manager Frank Pizzuto described the three projects as “doable.
“And if we have some legitimate reasons, and it’s beyond our control, we will see if we can revisit it with the feds,” he said.
To make sure the projects are completed on time, the city has created a department to oversee all three.
Grant Acheson, previously the city’s director of development services, will head up that group.
There is a further potential complication, Acheson told council on Monday, with the airport taxiway requiring land that currently sits in the Agricultural Land Reserve.
Acheson hopes it will be a “formality” to have that land removed, pointing out that a previous request to remove land from the ALR – for a ring road at the airport – passed through the Agricultural Land Commission without opposition.
The city’s portion of the two interchanges is being funded by development cost charges, which are paid to the city by developers. The airport project will be paid from the airport’s capital reserve, which is funded through airport operations and not from general taxation
November 24th, 2009, 07:39 PM
New airport mini-terminal
New hanger being built at the end of Townline Rd south of King Rd. It's right beside Cascade Areospace. Taken Tuesday Nov 17.
John Van Putten
Published: November 20, 2009 4:00 PM
Updated: November 20, 2009 4:30 PM
A new $1.3-million structure that will serve as a mini terminal for private corporate jets is taking shape at Abbotsford International Airport.
The Kelowna-based Carson Air is building the structure, known as an FBO (fixed based operator), at the east side of the airport, close to two ConAir hangars.
A similar facility is already being operated by Carson Air at Kelowna Airport.
Jay Teichroeb, City of Abbotsford’s general manager of economic development, said a new bylaw which offers tax breaks to businesses setting up at the airport was a “contributing factor” to Carson Air’s decision to build in Abbotsford.
“It provides us with another line of business at the airport, and expands the range of services,” said Teichroeb, adding the facility should be open before the 2010 Olympics in February.
The 15,000-square-foot FBO will provide an array of services for passengers and airline operators who land in Abbotsford in smaller private jets.
It will provide customs clearance for international traffic, aircraft grooming and lavatory services, flight planning services, fueling opportunities and aircraft parking. There will also be a lounge, as well as services that allow passengers to make hotel arrangements, book a taxi or rent a car.
November 24th, 2009, 08:01 PM
TransLink's Prendergast offers parting advice
Departing TransLink CEO Tom Prendergast is returning to run New York's transit system.
Published: November 20, 2009 12:00 PM
Updated: November 20, 2009 12:47 PM
Keep the pressure on to get the kind of transit system the region needs.
That's the advice from outgoing TransLink CEO Tom Prendergast, who spoke to civic and business leaders Thursday at the Metro Cities Conference in Vancouver.
"If you want to maintain livability, if you want to control your destiny, you've got to get on an expansion path," said Prendergast, who returns next month to New York to head the Big Apple's transit system.
He said area mayors and TransLink's board are united but they need to persuade the provincial government of the need for more funding.
"If the province isn't at the table, it's almost an insoluble problem," Prendergast said.
He urged business leaders to help convince the province that B.C.'s success has been and will continue to be tied to the Lower Mainland's fortunes, which will suffer if the region gets mired in congestion and inefficient development.
Prendergast resigned after Metro mayors approved a stop-gap $130-million funding increase for TransLink. A more ambitious expansion at a cost of $450 million a year was taken off the table because the province has so far rejected new funding sources.
B.C.'s Comptroller General has suggested some cuts could be found by slashing underused bus routes.
Prendergast said some pruning will be needed, but wholesale cuts are unwise, particularly in underserved areas where TransLink has promised improved service and needs to grow ridership.
He said suburbs where transit use is low shouldn't yet be held to the same standard for cost-recovery rates as the City of Vancouver, where residents have had decades of good service to adapt to using transit.
"When you wean a baby, there's inefficiencies there. But you have to go through that to get to the point where he knows how to eat. It's the same with transit."
Asked how optimistic a South of Fraser resident can be now that better transit service will come, he said: "I think they can be optimistic as long as the mayors stay united, the TransLink board stays united and we continue the dialogue with the province."
Steps that need to be taken to foster more transit use include building more park and ride lots, he said.
"That's something TransLink has generally not done but needs to do," he said, adding motorists who get ticketed for using a mall parking lot won't use transit.
Most people need both a car and the ability to use transit – not one or the other, he said, and advances may come gradually, by encouraging motorists to park one or two days a week at first in favour of telecommuting, transit or ride-sharing.
Kwantlen Student Association rep Nathan Griffiths said improved transit is needed to serve campuses in Cloverdale and Langley and asked about the potential to extend passenger light rail to the Fraser Valley.
"There's really no impediment," Prendergast responded. "It's overcoming the cultural embracement of SkyTrain that has existed to date."
He said TransLink is seeking to cut through the pro-SkyTrain "cultural bias" as it embarks on a careful examination of rapid transit technologies for line extensions west along Broadway and south of the Fraser.
At-grade light rail typically can't carry as many people or run as fast as grade-separated SkyTrain, but it's much cheaper and advocates say many more lines could be quickly built for the same budget, particularly in sparsely populated areas.
Prendergast predicted the first light rail line that comes to the Lower Mainland will lead to much greater appreciation of its potential.
The growth of the region outside Vancouver makes expansion of transit critical, he said.
"It's not a matter of when Surrey passes Vancouver in population. It's when. And the same can probably be said for Abbotsford [further into the future]."
November 24th, 2009, 08:52 PM
Abbotsford border crossing renamed
Published: November 19, 2009 3:00 PM
Abbotsford MP Ed Fast has succeeded in his bid to have the Sumas-Huntingdon border crossing renamed.
Fast had previously introduced a motion to the House of Commons, which asked that the border crossing include the word "Abbotsford" since it sits inside the city's boundaries.
The new name, the Abbotsford-Huntingdon Port of Entry, was granted approval by ministers on Wednesday.
“I am pleased that my colleagues in the House understood the importance of the border crossing to the future economic prosperity of our city,” said Fast.
“Adding 'Abbotsford' to the name resolves any confusion over where our port of entry is located."
The City of Abbotsford, the Abbotsford Chamber of Commerce and Tourism Abbotsford had all previously supported the name change, said Fast.
"Abbotsford continues to benefit from its strategic location on the U.S. border, and eliminating any confusion surrounding the location of our port of entry can only enhance our economic prospects,” the MP added.
The alteration will not occur immediately, said Fast, who pointed out it will take the Canada Border Services Agency "some time" to complete the process.
January 11th, 2010, 10:15 PM
Passenger rights may herald service
Kent Spencer, The Province
Published: Friday, January 08, 2010
Prospects for rail in the Fraser Valley are vastly enhanced by a Canadian Pacific contract that enshrines passengers' rights, said Rick Green, Langley Township's mayor.
There are "free" passenger rights on a 14-kilometre section of CP's line from Trinity Western University to Cloverdale, he said Wednesday.
And he said the contract clause has major implications for more than 500,000 residents in Langley and Surrey.
There's a real, burning need for efficient transit service. It can be done sooner rather than later," Green said.
Passenger rights in major North American cities have usually been sold off to large corporations, he said. But in the Langley-Surrey corridor, the rights were enshrined when publicly owned B.C. Hydro sold the track to CP in 1988.
Last summer B.C. Hydro renewed the rights, which would have lapsed, after Green discovered the clause.
"CP was chagrined. The rights are free," Green said.
A demonstration line should begin soon, he said.
"We've got to show how people will flock to a rail corridor as opposed to a bus corridor. The details would have to be worked out with CP," he added.
It could begin with several modern, fuel-efficient diesel cars and operate several times a day from Chilliwack to Surrey along the old interurban tracks.
CP spokesman Mike LoVecchio said he "has no idea" what the agreement means for future passenger service.
"It's true that Hydro retains the right to operate a passenger service, but Mayor Green's interpretation is his own," he said.
CP rents commuter-rail space for the West Coast Express and has similar agreements in Montreal, Toronto and Chicago.
Green said Fraser Valley municipalities are acting together for the first time.
He chairs the new Fraser Valley Light Rail Task Force, which has council representatives from Abbotsford, Surrey, Delta and Langley Township.
The task force augments community groups such as the Rail for the Valley, South Fraser on Trax, the Valley Transportation Advisory Committee and the Heritage Rail Society.
John Buker, founder of Rail for the Valley, said municipal support is growing.
"Gas prices and global warming are issues that will take hold," he said. "It's important to do this right for the sake of the valley's future."
The issue is being further highlighted by the Chilliwack Museum, which has a yearlong exhibit on the old B.C. Electric Railway interurban line, which celebrates its 100th anniversary on Oct. 1.
South Fraser on Trax will play host to experts from Portland, Ore., at a public meeting at 7 p.m. on Jan. 12 at the Langley township council hall.
And a $400,000 provincial study on valley rail, which focuses on whether a business case exists, is expected to be complete in the spring.
© Abbotsford Times 2010
January 30th, 2010, 09:04 PM
UFV student petition urging transit bus
Christina Toth, The Times
Published: Thursday, January 28, 2010
The Students for Sustainability at the University of the Fraser Valley say it's time to have regular, reliable transit links between Abbotsford and Chilliwack. They have more than 4,000 signatures on a petition and are hoping that a few more will convince local transit authorities to make the connection.
While UFV students are able to use their U-PASS cards for nearly all their public transit needs, the glaring exception is the route between Abbotsford and Chilliwack. This forces those who want to save money, reduce risk and protect air quality by using transit to acquire a vehicle just for the Abbotsford-Chilliwack commute, the SFS says.
In addition, with the recent cuts to Greyhound service from Abbotsford to Chilliwack, particularly in the early morning, UFV students are unable to use transit to actually arrive in time for 8:30 a.m. classes. Once the students arrive in Abbotsford or Chilliwack on the Greyhound service, they have to transfer to local public transit, but by the time they get to the campuses, they're late, said Daniel van der Kroon, a SFS member.
You arrive at least 15 minutes late. It's impractical from both directions," he said. Midday timetables between the cities are up to three hours, making it frustrating to get to appointments on time, said van der Kroon. The students hope to convince the Central Fraser Valley Transit service, overseen jointly by the cities of Abbotsford and Mission, to add a public transit link between Chilliwack and Abbotsford.
SFS urges local and provincial government leaders to take note of the significant demand from local residents for an affordable, frequent public transit service to connect Abbotsford and Chilliwack. A regular public transit link between the two communities would also benefit workers, people traveling to medical and court appointments, seniors, youth and others. Early research shows that 14,000 trips are made between
Abbotsford and Chilliwack daily, said van der Kroon.
He points out that 6,000 signatures were collected by Aldergrove resident Edith Griese, and that strong demand resulted in service between Aldergrove and Abbotsford. "It's time for Abbotsford and Chilliwack politicians to step up and advocate for transportation solutions on behalf of their constituents," said van der Kroon.
"If nothing else, the number of names on this petition, together with the strong outcry of voices in support of a passenger rail solution for the South Fraser region which would connect Chilliwack to Abbotsford and the other South Fraser communities, underscores the need for local decision makers to stop dilly-dallying and get with the program," said van der Kroon.
SFS has actively canvassed the Abbotsford community, speaking with many people for whom the lack of a practical commute option between Abbotsford and Chilliwack is a significant barrier. The frustration among UFV students is widespread, and not new.
"I have been a UFV student for six years and have constantly heard from students who can't take classes in Chilliwack due to the lack of transit. My sister had to drop out of two classes in Chilliwack this past semester due to not being able to find carpools," said Justine Russo.
SFS will continue campaigning and collecting signatures. Their efforts are supported by the UFV Student Union Society. "The SUS has helped gather the 4,000 signatures on the petition, not just because we recognize the need for the connector, but because we see that it should be a rather simple matter to have that route established," said SUS president Jack Brown. "The need to provide this service to the communities should create an atmosphere of teamwork between the two transit jurisdictions that would be involved."
To see the online petition go to www.thepetitionsite.com/1/chilliwackabbotsfordconnection.
For more information contact van der Kroon at 604-615-0270 or at email@example.com, or Jhim Burwell, UFV Student Union Society, at 604-864-4613 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
February 1st, 2010, 08:24 AM
How far out in to the Valley are the plans for skytrain to be expanded to?
February 2nd, 2010, 05:08 AM
Not even in the Valley, and frankly there is no need to extend SkyTrain for valley. Kevin Falcon, former Minister of Transportation, really wanted the SkyTrain to extend at least to Langley, but I'm really thinking those plans are derailed already. Something along the lines of a short commuter-like metro connecting Abbotsford, Chilliwack, and Langley, Newton, and King George via Interurban is more than sufficient.
February 2nd, 2010, 08:15 PM
I believe the next extension that was announced, was suppose to reach around 160th street, and then rapid buses between that station and downtown Langley.
But there definately has to be the development of light rail between Chilliwack and Surrey, most of the lower mainlands growth is going to go into the Abbotsford, area, its just a fact they won't be able to ignore.
February 2nd, 2010, 08:27 PM
Better bus links to West Coast Express
Christina Toth, The Times
Published: Tuesday, February 02, 2010
Mission commuters transferring to the West Coast Express will have more early morning public transit options, thanks to an additional 1,500 hours of services that started this week on Monday.
Commuters transferring to the West Coast Express have earlier options to catch the third West Coast Express train, departing at 6:27 a.m.
Three new trips leave downtown: No. 32 West Heights (5:58 a.m.), No. 33 Cedar Valley (5:55 a.m.), and No. 34 East Side (5:55 a.m.).
All other West Coast Express connection times have also improved to meet the TrainBus schedule.
Commuters starting shifts at 8 a.m. can now take the 7:25 a.m. No. 35 Hatzic from downtown, arriving at 7:46 a.m. One additional trip has also been added to No. 39 Shopper Shuttle at 6:05 p.m. every weekday.
Additionally for all routes, a separate Saturday schedule has been created to better reflect customer travel patterns and transit demand. Originally, the same schedule ran Monday through Saturday.
"Linking public transit services are key elements of community growth and economic development, along with providing environmentally responsible transportation alternatives," said Mission Mayor James Atebe, who is also chairman of the Central Fraser Valley transit committee, which is overseen by Mission and Abbotsford.
"If we want the public to use these systems, we must continue to work on expanding them over time, and ensure that these services make sense and meet the real needs of our citizens," he said. BC Transit, the province, the District of Mission and the City of Abbotsford made the announcement last week.
However, the additional service hours are less than the 4,500 hours Mission requested for this year.
In November, Atebe said the regional public transit was not meeting increasing demand from seniors, university students and commuters.
The joint transit committee asked the province for 8,000 more service hours on local routes last year, but received only half, said Atebe, most of which went to accommodate the U-Pass student program that was launched in September.
Mission asked for 4,500 hours this year, but received 1,500 hours. Still, local MLAs said in a press release that the increased service hours will help local commuters.
"More service hours mean it will be easier for people in Mission to leave their cars at home and take the bus," said Abbotsford-Mission MLA Randy Hawes.
For more on the expanded service, see www.bctransit.com, call 604-854-3232 in Abbotsford and Mission, or pick up a public transit Rider's Guide.
© Abbotsford Times 2010
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