The West Coast Express (WCE) expanded to 23 cars today (Sept. 12) as TransLink has adjusted its services to meet the anticipated uptick in fall ridership.
But is that enough to encourage residents that live north of the Fraser River and commute to Metro Vancouver for work to leave their vehicles at home?
On Saturday (Sept. 10), a new Tri-Cities-based non-partisan citizen group raised their voices at Coquitlam Central station in believing more trains are needed to meet that expectation.
"The WCE has limited ridership because lack of service makes it inconvenient," said Harvey Su, founder of the West Coast Express Expansion Association (WCEEA) in a statement sent to the Tri-City News.
"People in Vancouver want to enjoy the breweries in Port Moody and people living as far out as Mission want to enjoy entertainment downtown"
Su, a Coquitlam council candidate, claims the WCE has the capacity to act as a "driving engine" for economic recovery in Metro Vancouver.
As well, the Coquitlam resident and businessman states it can also be a catalyst for residents to earn the chance to afford a place to call home in the region amid the rising cost of housing, gas and other living expenses.
Su said he would prefer to use the WCE for his daily commutes.
However, because the last morning train departs at 8:10 a.m. from Coquitlam before he can drop off his two daughters at school, he said he's "forced" to drive to his office downtown Vancouver.
"A lot of young families have had to move to eastern communities because of housing affordability," he added.
"They need the West Coast Express to be a full commuter rail service operating seven days a week. We need collective effort to push the West Coast Express service expansion forward."
A pilot project?
Through the Tri-Cities, the WCE makes stops at Port Coquitlam, Coquitlam Central and Moody Centre before continuing west to Vancouver's Waterfront station, which, barring any delays, is about a 35-minute commute, according to TransLink's schedule.
For someone that's chose to live in Mission — the first station heading west on the line — transit takes 75 minutes from point 'A' to 'B.'
The WCEEA believes a pilot project that's been proposed to TransLink and B.C.'s transportation minstry to extend the morning and evening services by up to two hours, while also adding more trains on weekends and public holidays.
The group also suggested a test program from Port Coquitlam to Vancouver and PoCo's trainyard could be used "to enable parking" for the trains.
"WCE has been a five-train commuter service running Monday to Friday for the past 27 years," the WCEEA added, claiming all levels of government need to take "urgent steps" to make an expansion possible.
"The suburban cities it serves have seen a dramatic surge in population during this time along with the opening of many new services and social amenities in each community."
And it appears the WCEEA has support from a multitude of politicians and community members.
Notable dignitaries in attendance for the advocacy announcement included Port Moody–Coquitlam MLA Rick Glumac, Coquitlam Mayor Richard Stewart, acting Port Moody mayor Steve Milani, Port Coquitlam Coun. Nancy McCurrach (on behalf of Mayor Brad West) and BC NDP leadership candidate Anjali Appadurai.