West Vancouver businesses against new bus-only lanes for North Shore B-Line

Dec 8 2018, 6:04 pm

A small group of business owners in the Ambleside area of West Vancouver are making their voice heard today that they do not want road lanes converted into bus-only lanes for the new North Shore B-Line service.

Nigel Malkin, an Ambleside business owner, is leading a rally Saturday morning to oppose TransLink’s proposed plans, which would turn one road lane in each direction into a bus-only lane on Marine Drive.

Other improvements include new left turn bays at key intersections, new bus stops with special B-Line bus shelters, and a reduction of 15 of the 766 on-street parking spots over a 20 city block stretch.

TransLink North Shore B-Line

Typical cross section: Marine Drive East of 23rd in West Vancouver. (TransLink)

TransLink North Shore B-Line

Typical cross section: Ambleside. (TransLink)

TransLink North Shore B-Line

Typical cross section: Park Royal. (TransLink)

“We will win this thing one way or another. If after the meeting Monday that the district has with TransLink does not get closure to these bus lanes we will continue the fight,” wrote Malkin, adding that he thinks the new rapid bus service should be free, as it will not attract riders.

Malkin believes the changes will increase congestion on Marine Drive and harm businesses in the Ambleside area.

“This was one week, lets see the pressure in a month, two months, six months? The B-Line is not going to be implemented for eight months and by then TransLink and the District are going to have to hire a division of people to deal with us,” continued Malkin.

“This is not just about these lane closures alone but TransLink and the District’s long term desire to make the use of cars more and more difficult and force us into buses.”

However, the public transit authority is disputing Malkin’s assertions, as the proposed improvements will benefit vehicles as well, not just the buses.

“Priority measures planned for one stretch of Marine Drive in West Vancouver will help improve reliability and speed of service that will make transit more attractive to West Vancouver residents travelling into Vancouver, and to other parts of the North Shore,” said Chris Bryan, a spokesperson for TransLink.

The new left turn bays, for example, will reduce road congestion by separating vehicles left turning and through traffic, and when coupled with the new bus-only lanes TransLink’s traffic modelling shows “people who travel by car will experience a net reduction in travel times along Marine Drive.”

“Today, cars and buses are often stuck behind and weaving around people turning left, parking on the right and buses trying to merge back into traffic,” said Bryan. “The proposed changes will ensure a smoother, consistent traffic flow on the inside lane.”

When it comes to on-street parking spots, the changes will result in just a 2% reduction in on-street parking spots to accommodate the new left turn bays and new bus stops. But these small reductions will be offset in the future by the full completion of the new Grosvenor redevelopment, which will add 11 new on-street parking spaces and 94 public off-street parking spaces.

TransLink North Shore B-Line

Updated November 2018 proposed route for the North Shore B-Line. (TransLink)

The changes to Marine Drive — one of the most congested arterial routes in West Vancouver — are necessary to create a viable and reliable North Shore B-Line rapid bus service between Dundarave and Phibbs Exchange. This service, along with three other new B-Line routes in the region, is expected to launch by the end of 2019.

The same improvements being made for the new B-Line will also benefit all 10 of the bus routes that use Marine Drive in West Vancouver, according to TransLink.

For instance, transit riders on the No. 250 bus will save an estimated five minutes on their morning commute to downtown, and a bus trip from West Vancouver to Lions Gate Hospital on the No. 255 will be eight minutes faster. On average each weekday, 21,000 people ride public transit bus services along Marine Drive in West Vancouver.

In a statement issued Friday, District of West Vancouver mayor Mary-Ann Booth says the municipal government is still reviewing the proposed B-Line design with TransLink.

“We are listening to the community, studying the details and considering how to best meet the community’s needs,” she said.

“West Vancouver Council has not made a decision on this matter. Council is committed to addressing congestion issues in the community and has no desire to unduly inconvenience our residents or merchants.”

As part of a new comprehensive rapid bus standard of service, TransLink has been working with various municipal governments across the region to implement bus-only lanes, bus queue jumpers, and traffic signal priority for the new B-Line routes.

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