After more than a decade of planning, a new bus loop will finally be built at the University of British of Columbia’s (UBC) Point Grey campus.
Some site preparation has begun for the construction of UBC’s Gage South Student Residence complex, which will be built over the new and expanded diesel bus loop on the current site of the existing diesel loop.
There will be five drop-off bays for disembarking passengers on the east side of the the new Aquatic Centre, opening later this fall, and eight pick-up bays for embarking passengers on the south of the pool and north of War Memorial Gymnasium.
Both the arrivals and departures areas will be weather protected with a steel, wood, and glass canopy system integrated with lighting. The bus loop’s road surface will also be illuminated, but with a system of overhead cables and festoon lighting.
Artistic rendering of UBC Gage South, the bus passenger drop-off platform, and bus layover.
New diesel bus loop and layover plan at UBC Gage South, the location of the existing diesel bus loop.
“The new exchange is designed to meet current and future bus transit needs of the UBC community,” John Metras, Managing Director of Infrastructure Development for UBC, told Daily Hive. “It is bigger and more efficient than the current exchange and that allows for increased capacity if needed.”
On the site of the existing diesel loop, a major bus layover facility with 15 bus bays will be constructed on the ground level of the interconnected four-building student residence. Building heights, including a two-storey podium, will range from seven to 14 storeys, and to mitigate the impact on the housing above the layover facility will receive additional acoustical treatment.
A number of townhouses and retail units will be located on the ground floor facing Wesbrook Mall and Student Union Boulevard, which are both being redesigned ahead of the completion of the new bus exchange and student residence.
In addition to four-bedroom units, two-bedroom units, single-bedroom units, and studio units, micro units of just 140 square feet of living space, with a kitchen, bathroom, sleeping, and study area, are planned as a new housing concept for the campus.
Artistic renderings of UBC Gage South. The bus layover facility is located on the ground level of these buildings.
UBC has already built a new bus loop for trolleys on University Boulevard between Wesbrook Mall and the new Alumni Centre. If an underground extension of SkyTrain’s Millennium Line were ever to reach UBC, it is likely that an underground station would be built somewhere near the University Boulevard area between Wesbrook Mall and East Mall, but an exact location has not been determined.
Current plans for the SkyTrain extension only call for a new western terminus as far as Arbutus, with rapid bus completing the remaining journey to UBC.
“It’s too early to say where a future subway station may be,” said Metras. “UBC supports the expansion of transit to the campus and will work with TransLink to identify potential locations if an expansion is approved.”
The current diesel bus loop built in 2003 was originally intended to be a temporary facility while construction occurred on a new underground bus loop where the new UBC Nest Student Union Building and Alumni Centre are located. Construction was to begin in 2004, but the plans were canceled in 2009 after years of contemplation over engineering and cost issues.
Another plan surfaced afterwards that proposed to construct a bus loop on the ground level between the new Aquatic Centre and War Memorial Gym and place a 15 bus bay layover facility beneath McInnes Field. Access into the layover facility would have been through a long ramp.
But this version of the underground bus facility was also canceled in 2014 after planners realized that a larger footprint would be required for the bus layover, raising the cost of the $21-million project by $6 million.
The new and finalized plan for the bus loop and exchange will cost $21.75 million and the student residence buildings over the layover facility will cost $77 million.
It is anticipated that the bus loop and exchange could be ready for operations by late-fall 2018 while students will not be able to occupy the Gage South residences until the start of the 2019/2020 school year. Major construction on the projects begin in January 2017, after the Aquatic Centre is complete.
Approximately 20,000 people use the existing bus loop on a daily basis when the semester is in session.
Architectural renderings and diagrams of UBC Gage South and new bus exchange and layover project.