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Aldergrove trolley service moves closer to reality

If Aldergrove residents ever felt that they were the poor cousin to other urban areas of Langley Township, especially where public transportation is concerned, they can prepare to banish those feelings.

The town is about to embark on a unique way of transporting workers, shoppers and tourists: a trolley bus.

For years, residents have asked TransLink to improve on the scant service the town of approximately 8,000 people receives. Their chorus of complaints, echoed by council, have proved futile.

Now, however, the Aldergrove Trolley Association is one step closer to putting a trolley on the road, serving people who work at Gloucester Estates and the Greater Vancouver Zoo, and providing transportation for those who live as far south as 0 Avenue, including the 450 residents of Pioneer Park.

The service is the direct result of the reality TV show Million Dollar Neighbourhood which challenged residents to make changes to improve their neighbourhoods.

"It's obvious that the Million Dollar Neighbourhood has brought the community together in the most dynamic way," Councillor Charlie Fox commented.

The trolley system has been modeled on that used in Langford on Vancouver Island, said Dave Miller, who represents the ATA.

"The Langford Trolley system is extremely successful and tremendously popular in that community," he said, adding that gas taxes provide most of the funding.

Langford Mayor Stew Young has been "wonderfully supportive" and even paid for a trolley from his town to have a trial run in Aldergrove, Miller said. On that day, the community response was "outstanding."

Miller said that while the intention is to provide a free service, passengers will be asked for a donation. Operating costs and other funding will come from advertising, grants and contributions from local businesses.

This is how it is done in Langford, Miller noted, adding that gas taxes provide most of that town's funding.

There will be two routes which currently have little or no TransLink services:

* Route 1 would start at Extra Foods on 272 Street, proceed along 32 Avenue to 264 Street, over the freeway and into Gloucester Estates on 56 Avenue. The route would run four times from 6 a.m. to 9 a.m.,with a round trip expected to last 45 minutes.

* Route 2 would start at Extra Foods, proceed south on 272 Street to Pioneer Park, through the park onto Zero Avenue to 248 Street, north on 248 Street to Otter Co-Op and eastward on Fraser Highway to 276 Street, stopping at Save On Foods, downtown Aldergrove and Safeway.

From Safeway the trolley would go along 276 Street to 32 Avenue and back to Extra Foods. Service would run five times daily from 9:30 a.m. until 2:30 p.m. with a round trip of 60 minutes.

Also planned are two trips running exclusively to the zoo and Highway 1.

Miller said that the association requires approval from TransLink and to date discussions have been "excellent."

Telling council that the ATA would like the trolley on the road by the summer, Miller said that Langford's foray into trolley bus transport was so successful that within months another trolley was in service.

Council agreed to consider Miller's request for $2,500 which will pay to set up a business plan, and the association as the non-profit corporation running the business.

*****

(Editor's note: The following is the presentation to Langley Township Council for an Aldergrove commuter trolley system.)

Good evening your worship and council. Thank you for allowing us to make this presentation.

By way of introduction my name is Dave Miller and I am representing the Aldergrove Trolley Association. Our focus is transit or more to the point lack of transit to Gloucester Estate, Vancouver Zoo and the South Aldergrove area. We are newly formed and were created through the reality television show, the "Million Dollar Neighbourhood."

Through brainstorming we came up with a proposal to create a trolley system using a formula currently being used in Langford on Vancouver Island.

The Langford trolley system is extremely successful and tremendously popular in that community. Gas taxes provide the majority of the funding.

We conducted extensive research of the Langford system, including contacting Mayor Mr. Stew Young, who has been wonderfully supportive of our project to the extent that he came over to Aldergrove to meet with us and local businesses, including E.V. Logistics, Kline Trucking and the Vancouver Zoo, all at his own expense.

Subsequent to this meeting we made arrangements through Mayor Young to bring the Langford trolley to Aldergrove for a day. Once again Mayor Young picked up the costs.

On a beautiful sunny day in late November the Langford Trolley arrived at the Vancouver Zoo at approximately noon. After a brief media event we took the trolley on a tour of Gloucester Estates, downtown Aldergrove and south Aldergrove. The reception we received from the community was outstanding and reinforced our commitment and desire to see a trolley for Aldergrove in 2012.

Our future plans are to create a trolley company that will provide daily service to Gloucester Estates, Vancouver Zoo, downtown Aldergrove, and south Aldergrove to Zero  Avenue.

Our target ridership will be employees working in Gloucester Estates, visitors to the Zoo and local residents who wish to shop and conduct business locally. A major target area is the 450 residents of Pioneer Park, who have shown tremendous support for the project.

We intend to provide the service at no cost to the user other than by donation. Operating costs and funding would be solicited from advertising and local business contributions and grants. This has been part of the formula in Langford and it has proven viable, although it may be noted that gas taxes do provide the majority of their funding.

Our routing will consist of two routes in areas that currently have limited or no service provided  by TransLink. We have made a concerted effort not to infringe on existing TransLink routes, however, where we have, it is hoped that the service we intend to provide can be viewed as a feeder service to Translink. This would be in the Fraser Highway and 272 Street areas.

Route 1 would commence at Extra Foods on 272 St., proceed along 32 Ave. to 264 St., right on 264th, crossing the freeway and turning into Gloucester Estates on 56 Ave. Stops in Gloucester Estates would be arranged in consultation with the businesses. Upon leaving Gloucester Estates it would turn left onto 264 St., left onto 52 Ave. to 272 St., past the military base and back to Extra Foods. There would be a requested stop at the Zoo. This route would run from 6 a.m. to 9 a.m., with a round trip targeted at 45 minutes. This would allow for four trips each morning.

Route 2 would also commence at Extra Foods on 272 St., proceed south down 272 St to Pioneer Park, through the park onto Zero Ave., along Zero Ave. to 248th St., right on 248 St. to Otter Co-op and right on Fraser Highway to 276 St., stopping at Save On Foods, downtown Aldergrove and Safeway. From Safeway it would go along 276 St. to 32 Ave. and back to Extra Foods. Service would be from 9:30 a.m. until 2:30 p.m. With a round trip of 60 minutes. this would allow five round trips.

We also intend to include two exclusive trips to the Zoo. Trip 1 would be at 9-9:30 a.m. and Trip 2 would be at 2:30-3 p.m., via 264 St.

At 3 p.m. until 6 p.m. it would be back to Route 1 for four more round trips.

Service hours could be varied in consultation with local businesses and the community.

We have been in contact with TransLink and understand we will require their approval to create this projected service. Dialogue to date has been excellent.

Our next step is to form and incorporate a “not for profit” company and prepare a business plan.

Currently we have a bank balance of $15,000, held at the Aldergrove Credit Union under the auspices of the Aldergrove Business Association. We also have a pledge to bring that total to $50,000 with a strict understanding that funds are used for a trolley system.

We estimate that to create, register, form a company and provide a business plan will cost us approximately $5,000. We respectfully request that the Township partner with us in this ambitious project on a 50-50 basis, i.e. we both contribute $2,500. to establish ourselves.

I thank you for your time and will try to answer any questions you may have.

Dave Miller, Aldergrove

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