Aldergrove to launch community trolley service

Aldergrove test drives community trolley bus service borrowed from Langford for the day Nov. 3

Various images of the Langford trolley bus service on Vancouver Island. One of the trolleys makes a surprise visit to Aldergrove Nov. 3 where it will offer residents rides around the community that day to demonstrate how it is proposed to work in this community

After years of vainly lobbying TransLink for a community shuttle bus service Aldergrove is following the lead of Langford and launching a community trolley bus service.

Locals will get a sneak preview of the proposed service today (Nov. 3) as Langford Mayor Stew Young is bringing over one of the Vancouver Island community’s trolleys for a day of test runs around Aldergrove.

The ride-by-donation trolley service has been such a success in Langford that it became a year-round service in 2008, when it hit the 40,000-rider mark. Langford residents have come to rely on it and the costs to the municipality have been minimal, Mayor Stew Young says.

“People are using it now to go back and forth to work. They’re using it for shopping, so it’s getting quite busy compared to what it was last year,” Young said in 2008.

The trolleys were donated by the development community, which in turn promotes the proximity of the trolley routes to the Langford homes which are on the real estate and rental markets. The trolleys have also benefitted commercial and industrial businesses by bringing customers and employees to their doorsteps.

For more than seven years, businesses in and around Aldergrove, including Gloucester Industrial Estates, have lobbied Translink to improve the community’s public transit service. Businesses here contribute millions of dollars to TransLink funding but most of them see little in the way of transit service.

While filming a recent episode of the 10-part “Million Dollar Neighbourhood” TV series, participating families were challenged to make changes in the way they travel and commute. They struck up a Transportation Initiatives Committee which vowed to implement a local service that would continue long after the production leaves town.

Families parked their cars in favour of walking, riding bicycles and car-pooling and got very creative with finding ways to get around town – and save money doing it. They were on a mission. On Saturday, October 15, they held a massive car sale followed by a 10 kilometre walkathon the following day to help raise seed funding for their project.

In less than seven days, they initiated the Aldergrove Trolley Service. With advice and a visit from Langford Mayor Stew Young, the MDN Transportation Initiatives Committee invited a few members of Aldergrove’s business community to join them in their goal of mirroring the highly successful Langford trolley.

Last week, following a meeting at EV Logistics in Gloucester, Mayor Young suggested that “in order for businesses and residents to support the trolley service, they should perhaps see an actual trolley” and offered to send one over.

On Thursday, November 3, one of Langford’s trolleys will travel by ferry and pay a surprise visit to Aldergrove, spending the day driving around town, no doubt turning the heads of locals.

“This is the happiest news I’ve heard in years!” said Jody Henderson of the Greater Vancouver Zoo. The zoo’s parking lot will be the official welcoming spot of the visiting trolley at 11:30 a.m. on Thursday.

“We have tried for more years than I care to remember to have some form of transit bring guests to our gates and staff to our jobs. Finally, it’s happening.”

Bruce Heslop of the Aldergrove Business Association has been instrumental in lobbying Translink on behalf of his association’s businesses.

“We know the need is there. There are jobs at Gloucester Estates and no way to get to them unless you own a car. The trolley will help people get jobs and help businesses get and retain employees. Our downtown businesses will gain shoppers and our residents in the outlying areas will have an easier way to shop locally. We’re absolutely thrilled.”

Whether you live in Pioneer Park seniors’ trailer park near the U.S. border or work in Gloucester Estates north of Hwy. 1, they have a route and a service planned with you in mind. The group’s goal is to have the seed funding in place and the trolley service up and running by spring.

Township of Langley Mayor Rick Green will be at the scene at noon Thursday to greet the Langford trolley and join in on the celebration along with the MDN Transportation Initiatives Committee chair, Dave Miller, co-chair, Bruce Heslop and communications coordinator, Annette McArthur.

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