Port Mann Bridge rapid bus to begin on December 3

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The province of British Columbia has yet to announce an opening date, but December 3 is reportedly the date when TransLink will begin operating the Port Mann Bridge rapid bus.

Don MacLeod, president of Canadian Auto Workers local 111, told News 1130 that his members will begin service with six Orion V buses. They will run every 10 minutes during peak-hours and only every 30 minutes during off-peak.

The route, numbered 555, will take passengers from the newly built Carvolth Exchange in Langley (which will also be home to at 800 stall park and ride facility) to the Millennium and Expo Line at Braid Station in New Westminster. Buses will operate out of the Port Coquitlam Transit Centre.

The Orion V buses differ from the conventional buses operated on most routes. They have high back fabric seats, air conditioning, more seating, luggage racks, and reading lights.

TransLink Orion V

Photo Credit: Atomic Taco/Flickr

In TransLink’s 2012 Supplemental Plan, it called for frequency to be every 10 minutes during peak hours and 15 minutes during off-peak hours. However, the plan was contingent on Metro Vancouver mayors approving a $23 per year property tax hike for the region’s residents that would have generated $29 million for TransLink. The mayors chose not to and the rapid bus service was postponed.

The Highway 1 rapid bus project back on last month when TransLink announced its 2013 Base Plan. The authority announced it had found $98 million in new efficiencies to fund the project—albeit with less trips than originally planned. (An audit by the provincial government has found an additional $41 million in savings.)

Also, when the Port Mann /Highway 1 Improvement Project announcement was made, renderings of the rapid bus service falsely suggested 60-foot articulated buses would be used. The Orion Vs seats 47 passengers and have a maximum capacity of 60. The articulated New Flyer buses have between 48-54 seats, but have a maximum capacity of 120 (double the Orions).

As a result, there has been criticisms that service frequency will not meet the demands of passengers.  TransLink spokesperson Drew Snider told News 1130 that he believes it will meet the demand.

“We’re making as much use of the resources that we have. Factoring everything else into it, having those six [flex buses] out there, we believe is sufficient and it’s also what we can do at this time,” he tells us.

Snider believes the buses will get 1,000 people where they need to go and the 800 stalls at the park and ride will suffice, assuming some of those drivers carpool.

“We’re always going to monitor the situation to see what happens with demand,” he adds.

If there isn’t sufficient demand, TransLink will most likely consider and could possibly run articulated as soon as the New Flyer XDE60s arrive in early 2013. These 25 buses are destined for the Richmond Transit Centre.

Photo Credit: BC Gov Photos/Flickr

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Allen Tung Trying to make it in an industry that has been pegged as dying by the very people who work in it. Interested in urban transportation issues and hockey.
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