Written for Daily Hive by Jane Thornthwaite, MLA for North Vancouver-Seymour.
Over the last few months, a debate has sparked on the North Shore about what we envision for our future with rapid transit.
For too long, many in North Vancouver and West Vancouver have felt short-changed by TransLink, and this feeling hasn’t abated with the recent 10-year Mayors’ Council plan.
Indeed, some of the complaints I receive most often from constituents in North Vancouver is the lack of, and the consistency of, transit service. This has led many to ‘give up’ on taking transit, leading to increased road usage and congestion.
Anyone who drives on the Upper Levels after 2:30 pm on weekdays is well aware of the traffic nightmare that we all live in. It can often take over 30 minutes, and most often, over 60 minutes, just to get from one part of the North Shore to another.
Although the Lower Lynn Improvement project that our previous government approved will help separate highway and local traffic, the problem still remains of how to get people to and from the North Shore.
So how do we solve the North Shore’s traffic woes while also involving non-North Shore residents?
Well, one solution, among others, would be to get people out of their cars. However, it doesn’t seem that there is a viable alternative for many commuters coming anytime soon.
The current Mayors’ Council plan has a B-Line rapid bus service stretching from Park Royal to Phibbs Exchange, but this won’t actually be of benefit to most commuters, particularly if there is no designated lane devoted to buses.
Buses get stuck in the same traffic cars do, and TransLink has to accommodate traffic stalls by substituting bus routes at the last minute. But commuters still wait and suffer lengthy delays even if they are on the bus, which does not encourage bus use.
My proposal of extending SkyTrain to the North Shore envisions connecting the North Shore to rail rapid transit via the Ironworkers Memorial Bridge, to the Millennium Line. This would give rapid access options for commuters.
Of course, such a SkyTrain extension to the North Shore is likely many years away, which means effective interim measures are necessary.
Commuters would be well-served by a B-Line to Capilano University, starting at Joyce-Collingwood Station, with connections at Gilmore Station and the Kootenay Loop.
Right now, bus route No. 28, which starts at Joyce-Collingwood Station and ends at Capilano University, follows a similar trajectory. However, it has 38 stops along its 11-km-long route, while the UBC/Commercial-Broadway 99 B-Line, for example, has 13 stops over its 12-km-long route.
At peak times, the schedule allows for an hour-long trip time from end-to-end, and that’s if there are no accidents. On SkyTrain, the travel time between King George Station and Joyce-Collingwood Station is roughly 24 minutes, so it’s not inconceivable that someone from Surrey could commute to the North Shore in roughly an hour, entirely by transit, if a new B-Line service was configured to get from Joyce-Collingwood Station to North Vancouver in 30 minutes.
TransLink data suggests that the current bus to Capilano University has 6,150 daily weekday boardings, on average. Add in the 11,950 daily weekday boardings on the No. 130, which starts at Metrotown Station and connects to Phibbs Exchange via Kootenay Loop, and you’d have a pretty good case; the No. 130 has a similarly high number of stops.
These numbers aren’t a far cry from the existing 96 B-Line Surrey ridership (13,100 per weekday) or the now-cancelled 97 B-Line Coquitlman ridership (10,550). One must also consider the roughly 11,000 students, faculty, and staff at Capilano University, in addition to the Maplewood Development plan which will see an additional 1,500 units constructed, 14 hectares of expanded light industrial land, and 100,000 sq. ft. of commercial space.
Having a “rapid transit” system that connects the North Shore to Burnaby and the Expo and Millennium lines will greatly improve the options for people travelling to and from the North Shore to their houses or work on either side of the bridge.