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Prohibitive costs for Abbotsford-Chilliwack bus

An Abbotsford-Chilliwack commuter bus is currently too costly to run.

According to a review by BC Transit, which was presented at Monday afternoon’s council meeting, the service would cost the city $11 per rider to operate.

That’s based on a $4.51 average fare, which represents a cost recovery of about 40 per cent.

BC Transit staff say 30 per cent is the minimum cost recovery, which would equate to a fare of $3.45.

The report noted the $11-per-rider figure is well above the current Central Fraser Valley system’s cost per ride, which is $3.96.  Between three to five dollars is considered cost-effective.

The suggested route would connect the Bourquin Exchange in Abbotsford and the Downtown Exchange in Chilliwack, and would take 40 minutes one way, travelling on Highway 1.

The report identified three service options varying in terms of service frequency, service hours, vehicle needs and costs.

Option one would see 22 round trips per day, on a 45-minute basis between 6 a.m. and 10:30 p.m. It would require eight buses and cost local government $371,438.

Option two had 14 round trips per day, running every 45 minutes during peak hours and every 90 minutes outside of those times. It would require five buses and cost $247,140.

The third option suggested seven round trips spread throughout the day.

It would require three buses and cost $144,431.

The report recommended further consultation with Chilliwack to discuss financial support.

“If Chilliwack is not willing to come on board, it will be very difficult to cover the costs,” said Coun. Moe Gill.

In addition, consultation with the University of the Fraser Valley (UFV) was suggested to determine service levels and potential funding assistance through the UPASS.

In the past, students have lobbied for more connectivity between the Abbotsford and Chilliwack campuses.

Coun. Simon Gibson added that while he is excited about the initiatives, further expansion at the local UFV campus may make the bus route unnecessary in the future.

The report also suggested further analysis of ridership.

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