The Fraser Valley Express runs between Chilliwack and Langley’s Carvolth bus exchange.

The Fraser Valley Express runs between Chilliwack and Langley’s Carvolth bus exchange.

COVID-19 derails bus connection between Fraser Valley cities and SkyTrain

BC Transit had planned to extend Fraser Valley Express to Burnaby’s Lougheed Station in 2021

It will be a while longer before Fraser Valley residents can take a bus directly to connect with SkyTrain.

Last summer, plans were made to extend the route of the Fraser Valley Express to Lougheed SkyTrain station in Burnaby. The Fraser Valley Express currently runs from Chilliwack, through Abbotsford, to a Langley bus exchange.

The plan, led by BC Transit, had been to extend the route at the start of 2021. Doing so would make it much simpler – and cheaper – for transit users to get into Vancouver. A direct connection had been the most-frequent request from users.

Then a pandemic spread throughout the world.

BC Transit has since delayed all its planned expansions for the current fiscal year – including the Fraser Valley Express expansion and more buses for Abbotsford – until the following year.

In a report tabled last week for Fraser Valley Regional District politicians, staff wrote: “An updated time frame for implementation has not yet been determined and shall be discussed with partners as more information becomes available.”

Meanwhile, financial troubles at TransLink are forcing riders in the evening to wait a little longer to get where they are going.

The revenue that TransLink uses to operate SkyTrain and buses in Metro Vancouver is highly dependent on fares and fuel and parking taxes. (BC Transit receives a subsidy from the province that isn’t directly linked to those. Municipalities also pay a share, but fares comprise a relatively small chunk of the operating costs of such system.)

With TransLink’s revenues down sharply, FVRD staff wrote in a report this week: “These pressures have resulted in service cuts with additional cuts announced for mid-May. At this point, TransLink connection issues to the FVX have been limited to longer wait times at off-peak times in the evenings due to low ridership, but connections still exist for passengers. FVRD staff will continue to monitor.”

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