TransLink’s plan for the next quarter century is expected to bring a new form of frequent transit service to Langley sometime in the next 10 years.
On Wednesday, April 20, TransLink announced it plans to double regional bus service over the next decade, as well as rolling out massive upgrades to a major cycling network.
But the most visible change for Langley would be the arrival of a new mode of transport dubbed Bus Rapid Transit (BRT).
BRT isn’t just more buses at more frequent intervals. It involves buses that use dedicated bus-only lanes, with traffic lights prioritized to keep them moving.
Previously, there was a BRT lane down the middle of Number 3 Road in Richmond, where buses could zip along in their own lanes without getting stuck in the busy car traffic. That lane was replaced with SkyTrain.
TransLink has targeted 200th Street as the site of one of the new BRT routes. The current map shows that BRT will run from Maple Ridge’s Lougheed Highway across the Golden Ears Bridge and down as far as Langley City, where it would end at the same point the SkyTrain extension, under construction from Surrey now, is intended to stop.
“I want to emphasize, BRT is a real game-changer,” TransLink CEO Kevin Quinn told the TransLink Mayors’ Council at their meeting Friday, April 22.
It is fast, effective, and much cheaper to build than SkyTrain, he said, coming in at about $15 million per kilometer, compared to about $400 million per kilometer for SkyTrain.
He said the plan now is to build 130 km of BRT lanes and infrastructure in just 10 years.
A BRT line in Langley would be a huge difference for people living within walking distance of the line, noted Langley City Councillor Nathan Pachal.
There are buses on 200th Street and other major Langley routes now, but they have to go at the speed of the rest of traffic – which can be slow during rush hours.
“I’ve been in a bus stuck on 200th Street,” Pachal noted.
With dedicated lanes and signal priority, buses could move as fast or faster than cars. In addition, the stops for BRT are designed so that people pay for tickets or present their transit passes when entering the stop, so when the bus arrives they can quickly board and get moving again.
“To have frequent service, fast service, now that’s comparable with a car,” said Pachal.
SkyTrain allows people to move between regions across Metro Vancouver, Pachal said.
“Bus Rapid Transit is meant to serve people sub-regionally.”
Froese added that TransLink is creating bus systems that link up with SkyTrain, and BRT is part of that.
The plan is to get the first phase of the BRT system, including the 200th Street portion from the Golden Ears Bridge to Langley City, done within the first five years of the 10-year plan, said Township Mayor Jack Froese.
Then in the second half of the plan, the goal is to extend the BRT south all the way to Brookswood, and extend it down 24th Avenue through the Campbell Heights area, South Surrey and out towards White Rock.
In his presentation to the region’s mayors, Quinn noted that there are potential difficulties with the plan, especially the fact that it means re-allocating road space.
In Langley City, Pachal noted that as properties along 200th Street redevelop, they are required to leave setbacks for future transit needs.
In the Township, most of 200th Street already has enough room for the BRT.
“The ultimate design will accommodate the buses and the traffic,” said Froese.
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