TransLink’s Board of Directors has approved an unsolicited private sector proposal to operate a new direct, express bus service between Surrey and the University of British Columbia’s Point Grey campus.
In a meeting last week, the privately-operated and financed service received the green light, with the conditions that it does not use any TransLink infrastructure such as bus stops, require any financial support from TransLink, and uses branding and naming that does not confuse the service for having anything to do with the public transit authority.
As a result, the service’s proposed name of ‘Surrey B-Shuttle’ is not expected to be used upon launch.
The service will run from the intersection of 152 Street and Highway 10 in Surrey to the intersection of Walter Gage Road and Westbrook Mall in UBC, with a handful of stops serving other Surrey locations at 152 Street/72 Avenue, 144 Street/72 Avenue, 138 Street/72 Avenue, 128 Street,72 Avenue, 122 Street/72 Avenue, Scott Road/84 Avenue, and 112 Street/Avenue. This bus does not have any stops in other municipal jurisdictions, besides UBC.
It will take approximately 75 minutes to complete the trip using a route that runs on the Alex Fraser Bridge, Highway 91 and Highway 99 through Richmond, Oak Street Bridge, and Southwest Marine Drive in Vancouver.
In contrast, travel time on TransLink’s service – bus routes plus either Canada Line at Bridgeport Station or the Expo Line at Surrey Central Station – currently takes between 90 minutes to 120 minutes. The driving time by car along the same route as the private bus is just under 60 minutes.
There will be 12 round trips each weekday, with the service running hourly. The first westbound trip will depart Surrey at 5:45 am, and the last trip will be at 4:20 pm. For eastbound travel, the first trip will depart UBC at 7:05 am and the last trip at 5:45 pm.
Each single-trip, one-way fare will cost $10.00, using an online pre-booking system. Walk-on passengers would be permitted onto the bus if there is seating availability.
“With routing designed to serve a small and specific long-distance travel market, the proposed Surrey B-Shuttle would provide a complementary alternative to existing TransLink service,” reads a report.
“Surrey B-Shuttle would expand the range of sustainable transportation options available within the region and support TransLink’s ongoing commitment to improving regional mobility.”
The private operator now has permission to run the service from now until December 31, 2019, when the service’s performance and impact on TransLink’s public services will be evaluated.
During the same meeting, TransLink’s Board of Directors quickly rejected a proposal by the same private proponent to run a private express bus shuttle on Broadway between Commercial-Broadway Station and UBC due to concerns that it would directly compete with the 99 B-Line and increase traffic congestion. It would follow the exact same route as the 99 B-Line and stop in the same areas.
TransLink has jurisdiction with approving and regulating independent transit services in the region. In recent years, this has included the approval of municipal government-funded and operated free seasonal shuttles in Port Moody and White Rock.