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Input sought for new fast buses though they're running far from South Delta

TransLink is mostly looking for feedback about would be the most-desired amenities and features for a BRT service.
The R6 will provide express, limited-stop service between Scott Road SkyTrain Station and Newton Exchange alongside Route 319, which currently serves the corridor. TransLink image

TransLink is asking the public to give its two cents’ worth about better and faster buses, but it might take awhile before such service to reach South Delta.

The transportation agency has asked for public input, via a survey, on its first Bus Rapid Transit lines, three of which have been announced; for King George Boulevard, (from Surrey to White Rock) Langley Centre to Haney Place Mall; and Metrotown to the North Shore.

Bus Rapid Transit uses dedicated bus lanes with traffic-light priority so buses can zoom along regardless of traffic.

The engagement will ensure customer feedback is considered as part of ongoing BRT planning, said a release June 26.

Coun. Rod Binder said TransLink has shown that it waits for density to arrive before improving transit service.

He said the new R6 rapid bus on Scott Road shows that TransLink is living up to its commitment to prioritize service improvements as density grows.

And as density grows South Delta could be moving up the priority list.

“Certainly, that hasn’t been the factor because there really isn’t that much density in the South Delta area, in spite of Tsawwassen Mills and TFN,” he said.

Binder doesn’t want to make any guarantees but said that TransLink has shown that it’s putting resources into densified areas.

He understands that people want infrastructure and amenities before adding population but unfortunately, the sequencing of these things happens to be, we build tax base, which then builds revenue, which then pays for infrastructure.

“The sequencing of these events just happens to be the formula that’s relatively fixed,” he said. “And it’s not the field of dreams and you build it and they will come.”

Binder said that perhaps at one point, there could be a high-capacity bus line, from South Delta Recreation Centre in Tsawwassen to the Ladner bus loop on Harvest Drive.

“The timing of that though is the giant question mark,” he said.

The BRT lines are part of the Access for Everyone Plan, which includes an express bus service from the Tsawwassen ferry terminal to the Canada Line in Richmond.

Binder pointed out that a new tunnel is needed before that service, otherwise express buses will just get bogged down in the existing George Massey Tunnel.

“The tunnel … is always going to be a limiting factor, so until that’s resolved I just can’t see transit making any changes,” he said.

While South Delta residents are nowhere near any of the of the planned Bus Rapid Transit lines, South Delta commuters could still use BRT in conjunction with other transit services, “so their feedback is important to us,” said TransLink spokesperson Dan Mountain.

TransLink is mostly looking for feedback about would be the most-desired amenities and features for a BRT service.

Other parts of the plan include new or better bus routes in Tsawwassen, Centennial Beach and Southlands, “as well as improvements to the major bikeway network to better connect South Delta to the rest of the region’s cycling infrastructure,” Mountain said.

He added that TransLink expands service based on current and future ridership demand, “which is based on many factors, but is primarily based on current density and growth targets set by municipalities.”

But expansion plans can over time as the region’s needs change. “Changes to 10-year plans are common as more specific Investment Plans with shorter timelines are developed,” he said.