Plans are in the works to extend bus service between Chilliwack and Abbotsford directly to Metro Vancouver’s SkyTrain system next year.
Staff at the Fraser Valley Regional District (FVRD) have recommended that the Fraser Valley Express bus be extended to the Lougheed transit station in Burnaby. Currently, the service ends its run at Langley Carvolth bus exchange and users must take a second bus to get to SkyTrain.
The move, if approved by the FVRD’s board, would cost just under $500,000 annually. Chilliwack and Abbotsford currently split the bulk of the cost of the Fraser Valley Express. A staff report says the move would be the “most extensive service expansion” since the bus launched in 2015.
The change would simplify transit options between the two Fraser Valley cities and downtown Vancouver.
“This will significantly increase convenience for FVX customers wishing to access TransLink’s Sky Train network, including connections to Surrey, Coquitlam, downtown Vancouver and Vancouver International Airport,” staff wrote.
The FVRD’s corporate services committee is set to discuss the matter at a meeting Thursday morning.
In Chilliwack, the bus picks up and drops off passengers downtown, near the intersection of Vedder and Luckakuck and at the Lickman park-and-ride. The bus stops in Abbotsford at the McCallum park-and-ride and at Highstreet.
Buses already run between Carvolth and Lougheed station and take about 30 minutes to complete the journey. It takes around half an hour for a SkyTrain to reach downtown Vancouver. That means travelling to downtown Vancouver on the Fraser Valley Express would take a little more than one-and-a-half hours from Abbotsford and a little more than two hours from Chilliwack. Unless fares are hiked, the trip would cost a little less than $10, with a single ticket on the Fraser Valley Express currently costing $5 and the SkyTrain journey between Lougheed Station and downtown Vancouver costing $4.20
The Fraser Valley Express currently runs 17 times a day on weekdays, with buses leaving every half hour during the early morning and late afternoon, and more occasional service at other times of the day. The last bus leaves Langley at 9 p.m. There is less-frequent service on weekends and holidays.
The proposal would be “subject to further discussions with BC Transit regarding timing and service levels.”
Staff wrote that the service has seen “double digit” ridership gains each year, with just under 20,000 passengers carried on average each month in 2018.
Mayor Henry Braun said the plan makes strategic sense, but expressed concern about continuing to extend the service without securing money from the province.