Abbotsford wants to bolster its transit fleet with eight new buses over the next three years.
The city has signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with BC Transit to restructure its bus system with an eye on improving reliability and service. The plan will still need to be approved by the provincial government, although BC Transit says local priorities “have only rarely exceeded provincial funding allocations.”
If it does get the sign-off, Abbotsford would receive four new buses in the spring of 2020. The current Riverside Road facility doesn’t have room for any more buses, but that will change once construction on a new transit depot is completed.
Another two new buses would come online in September 2020, with the seventh and eighth additions to the city’s fleet following in 2021.
The buses would aim to provide increased focus “on the Abbotsford Downtown Exchange,” according to a memo in a staff report.
Sunday services would also be added to those routes that don’t currently run seven days a week, buses would run on stat holidays, and additional service would be provided in Mission.
As the new buses come online, planners will also look at making changes to routes to beef up service along key corridors.
The new buses will run on compressed natural gas, and staff say the city intends to convert currently operating units to CNG. The new depot includes a CNG fueling system.
Abbotsford and Mission currently pay a little more than half of the operating expenses for the Central Fraser Valley transit system, and that would continue.
The new buses and increased service would increase the amount spent by the two municipalities on transit by around $1.4 million annually. With the increase, the amount the city is spending on transit looks set to rise by about 10 per cent over the life of the MOU.
The total impact to the city coffers isn’t yet known; staff say the precise numbers will be determined during budget discussions this fall.
The city’s transportation master plan also lays out new capital spending on new exchanges, including the relocation of the Bourquin Exchange.