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RapidBus to bring even more density to Delta-Surrey border

The new service will have articulated buses that will have more capacity and more bus priority lanes along the corridor
Drivers had to put up with construction activity along the Delta-Surrey border for the future RapidBus.

The Scott Road corridor along the Delta-Surrey border could see even more high-density developments than anticipated with the arrival of RapidBus.

On Monday, TransLink announced that the new R6 Scott Road RapidBus will begin serving customers Jan. 2, 2024.

The new route will speed up bus trips on Scott Road by up to eight minutes in each direction, providing up to 20 per cent more customer capacity on the busiest bus corridor in Surrey and Delta, according to a TransLink news release.

With more than 30,000 bus passengers each weekday, the Scott Road corridor is currently the busiest bus corridor south of the Fraser River and is experiencing Metro Vancouver’s strongest ridership growth.

On the Delta planning department agenda, as part of series of action items from the city’s Housing Action Plan, will be an Official Community Plan (OCP) update for increased densities in town centres and major corridors.

A recent report to council notes that the action involves adjusting height and/or density allowances in those areas to accommodate more units in areas that are well suited for increased density.

Among the potential candidate areas is the Scott Road corridor, where new floor space ratio adjustments will be considered to support the investment in the R6 RapidBus and provide transit-oriented development opportunities. The other areas include the Nordel Social Heart, Ladner Trunk Road, Tsawwassen Town Centre and 56 Street.

The report notes that, in many cases, land use designations are currently constrained, resulting in challenges with development viability under the current economic climate and commensurate "spot" applications for OCP amendments. The increase in density to go along with transit would also include review of potential bonus density tools to achieve greater delivery of rental and below-market housing types in those areas.

Last month, the provincial government announced proposed new legislation aimed at having more homes near transit hubs.

The legislation would require municipalities to designate Transit Oriented Development Areas (TOD Areas) near transit hubs. They are defined as land within 800 metres of a rapid transit station and within 400 metres of a bus exchange where passengers transfer from one route to another.

Meanwhile, the City of Surrey has initiated a visioning study to better understand the corridor and how to plan for growth over the next 30 years. With the introduction of RapidBus and development plans on the west side of Scott Road in Delta, change is going to happen, according to the city.

The study is to help identify key objectives, starting for the Scott Road and 72nd Avenue area including the surrounding neighbourhoods, and explore where significant redevelopment may occur.

On the Delta side of the road, in 2021, the Mayor’s Housing Task Force for Scott Road came up with a series of recommendations for the entire corridor, including creating several districts with various land use policies.

Surrey acknowledges that on the Delta side, higher density, transit-oriented, mixed-use development is already envisioned and, in some places, new development is already under construction.