Township puts brakes to Aldergrove trolley

Aldergrove Trolley Company directors (from left Anna Nosek, Lynne Vanlaarhoven and Dave Miller came to Township Council Monday night (April 22) to ask for quick approval of the proposed service. - DAN FERGUSON PHOTO
Aldergrove Trolley Company directors (from left Anna Nosek, Lynne Vanlaarhoven and Dave Miller came to Township Council Monday night (April 22) to ask for quick approval of the proposed service.
— image credit: DAN FERGUSON PHOTO

The Township of Langley is unable to approve the proposed route for a soon-to-launch trolley service in Aldergrove because it doesn't have enough information.

The issue was raised in a Monday (April 22) letter to the Aldergrove Trolley Company from Langley transportation engineering manager Paul Cordeiro, which said plans for a May 1 launch of the trolley service were "premature."

"The information provided with respect to the routes and bus stops is inadequate to undertake an evaluation," Cordeiro said.

He said the Township must have detailed design drawing of bus shelters and signs to make sure they meet area planning guidelines.

Cordeiro said the Township must also have proof of insurance and an agreement making the trolley company responsible for maintaining the bus stops.

As well, the municipality needs to know what type of bus is being used, whether it can navigate the turns it will have to make and if it is wheelchair accessible, among other things.

The trolley company has yet to apply for a business licence to operate its service, Cordeiro said.

The letter was sent to trolley company executive director David Miller on the same day that Miller, trolley company marketing director Anna Nosek, and chief financial officer Lynne VanLaarhoven came to council to lobby for approval.

"We still have a ways to go," VanLaarhoven said.

VanLaarhoven told council the trolley company hopes to win approval for the proposed routes and stops from the Township engineering department by April 30.

That would be followed by a "celebration of approval" launch event on May 1, with actual service starting some time before May 15, she said.

Mayor Jack Froese said given the concerns expressed by staff, "it may be difficult to meet that timeline."

Council voted to instruct the engineering department to "expedite" the approval process by working with the trolley company to speed the process.

The Aldergrove Trolley Company was established when a Reality TV show "Million Dollar Neighbourhood," which challenged residents to make changes to improve their neighbourhood, was taping in Aldergrove.

The stated goal of the community-run non-profit company is to provide transit service to Gloucester Industrial Estates and South Aldergrove, areas of the community that currently have little or no transit service.

The trolley would link to the TransLink buses that connect downtown Aldergrove to Langley and Abbotsford.

In 2012, Township council approved spending $2,500 to help the Aldergrove Trolley Association set up a business plan.

In July of that year, the trolley company announced it had purchased a 32-passenger trolley built in 1988 for a theme park in Virginia.

However, in November, the trolley company announced the vehicle was "unusable for service" and would be stripped down and cut up into bus shelters for the new trolley transit line.

In the Monday night presentation to council, the company said it has entered into an agreement to lease vehicles from the Vancouver Trolley Company, which operates a fleet of "San Francisco-style" trolleys for sightseeing tours.

The Aldergrove company said it has has also won designation as an "independent transportation service" from TransLink and obtained a business licence to operate a dispatch office for charters and tours.

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