Transit hours increased: Five buses, 11,700 hours of service, starting in July

Abbotsford is beefing up its transit system by an extra 3,000 hours.

Abbotsford is adding thousands of hours to local transit service.

Abbotsford is adding thousands of hours to local transit service.

Abbotsford is beefing up its transit system by an extra 3,000 hours.The increase is in addition to the previously approved upgrade of 8,700 hours of service.Originally, Abbotsford’s portion of the Central Fraser Valley Transit System was to expand in March 2011. The expansion would include four new buses and provide earlier service to Abbotsford Regional Hospital, improved service to the University of the Fraser Valley, earlier access to Route #31 (the valley connector to Mission and the West Coast Express) and provide Sunday level service on all statutory holidays.That expansion has been delayed, now that BC Transit has provided another 3,000 hours, and one additional bus, bringing the total increase in service to 11,700 hours and five buses.City manager Frank Pizzuto said the original 8,700 hour increase (costing $338,000) was already in the 2011 budget, but the opportunity for an additional 3,000 hours (at a cost of an additional $116,000) came as a surprise.In order to take advantage of the increased time, the expansion has been pushed back to July. Running the new service hours for half the year cuts the total 2011 cost in half.“By delaying the expansion, we can fit the cost in the budget,” said Pizzuto.The expansion will cost the city $227,000 in 2011 and $454,000 in 2012.The city has been working with BC Transit to optimize service and improve routes to promote transit use.“Transit is not at the level we want it to be. This is a good first step,” said Pizzuto.The increased hours of operation, especially in high traffic areas, was on the top of the wish list for the Mission Abbotsford Transit Commission.“This will make a huge difference in our community for transit service,” said Coun. Lynne Harris, vice-chair of the commission.