As some Metro Vancouver communities yearn for better transit, a group of West Vancouverites is urging their council to say «thanks, but no thanks» to a proposed B-line bus route.
Opponents of a TransLink proposal to run a B-line bus route through West Vancouver fear it will turn Marine Drive into a “horse-and-buggy track.”
“I’m not saying no to transit,” said Nigel Malkin, who runs the Stop the Road Closures website.
“I’m saying no to them taking away two lanes of traffic and parking spaces to make way for a B-line to a bathroom.”
The business owner said he thinks the Marine-Main B-line, announced by TransLink last year, should run from the Phibbs Exchange near the Ironworkers’ Bridge in North Vancouver to Park Royal, instead of continuing to Dundarave in West Vancouver as planned.
Malkin believes the last part of the 14-km route through his city, which could see two lanes of traffic designated for buses only, will be little more than a place for buses to turn around and drivers to take a bathroom break.
“They want empty roads for the buses to barrel down and a western terminus for the line, but there’s no ridership in Dundarave,” he said.
Malkin also questioned TransLink’s ridership projections, saying the transit authority could “feed any numbers they wanted into the computer” to show a need for more transit.
But TransLink spokesman Chris Bryan rejected that idea in a detailed response, saying ridership projections were developed using TransLink’s Regional Transportation Model.
“This is a multimodal transportation model that develops demand forecasts based on land use and available transportation options. EMME software is worldwide industry standard.”
TransLink predicts ridership on the Marine-Main B-line to rise from 2.1-2.3 million annual trips in 2019 to 2.9-4 million annual trips in 2035, or 9,000 to 12,800 daily trips.
The West Vancouver portion of the line is already a busy transit corridor, said Bryan. More than 8,000 people get on and off buses in Dundarave and Ambleside on an average week day, not including people who have boarded at Horseshoe Bay and are simply passing through.
West Vancouver has the fastest growth in bus ridership on the North Shore, with daily boardings increasing 10 per cent between 2017 and 2018.
“Nearly one-quarter of transit trips starting or ending in West Vancouver are to/from North Vancouver. Additionally, 78 per cent of people who work for the District of West Vancouver commute from other municipalities,” Bryan added.
District of West Vancouver Mayor Mary-Ann Booth said traffic and congestion were among the top concerns identified by residents during the municipal election.
“I think the community definitely embraces buses and supports improved transit. It’s just a question of the right transit for West Vancouver,” she said.
Council has the final say on TransLink’s plans and has been conducting a community consultation process over the last two months, including several public meetings. The online consultation wraps up at the end of this month, after which staff will present council with a report.
“My hope is that once we’ve heard from staff, we could go to TransLink … (and) there would be some opportunity for discussion,” she said.
In January, the school board voiced concerns about the location of the proposed B-line staging area near Irwin Park Elementary. Booth said council has decided the school is “off the table” as a terminus, which was communicated to TransLink. Bryan confirmed recent consultation does not include Irwin Park as a possible terminus for the line.
But for Malkin, small changes won’t make a big difference to a proposal he believes is all wrong. With help from dozens of volunteers and donated money, he’s been running a noisy campaign to stop the B-line at Park Royal.
“The route that actually needs buses is into Vancouver,” he said.
“No one is going to take this (route) to go to Lonsdale Quay and get on the SeaBus. This whole east-west traffic problem is nothing.”
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