Most people reacted with relief when a public bus connecting Abbotsford to its biggest neighbours, Langley and Chilliwack, was finally green-lighted last week.
The project has been a top priority for the city for years. It requires so many different and often diverging pieces of a puzzle to come together – three separate municipalities, an overarching regional district, BC Transit, the provincial government, and public opinion – that it was easy to doubt it would ever happen.
Now that the Fraser Valley Regional District has granted approval, it is up to Abbotsford and Chilliwack to find the funds. To do so, the cities must determine what to charge riders, and how much to extract from the public purse.
And when the long-awaited Fraser Valley Express bus arrives, will it change how people travel?
Less than three per cent of Abbotsford’s residents commute by public transit every day. That’s about the same as the percentage that walk to work.
Public consultations by BC Transit revealed that Fraser Valley residents really want an easier way to get to Vancouver.
The end point of the new subregional bus will be the Carvolth Exchange in Langley. From there, it’s a direct non-stop bus to the Braid SkyTrain station.
Cost is a big factor in whether the service actually displaces some cars from the Trans-Canada highway. The new bus is on a BC Transit system, while Langley and Vancouver are on TransLink. That means two separate fares for those wanting to ride all the way. The whole trip would need to be cheaper and faster than Greyhound’s current $12.50 for the minimum 70-minute journey.
Nevertheless, at least local travel should be easier. A 30-minute bus ride from Abbotsford to either Langley or Chilliwack – the budgeted travel time for the new express bus – doesn’t sound so bad when compared to pouring yet another $100 into the tank.