Tri-City transit users will be seeing a number of changes to the bus route landscape next fall, with expanded service and increased connections planned to the Evergreen Line.
The changes including eliminating or restructuring some existing bus routes — including the 97 B-line and the 160, 169 and 190 routes, which will become redundant once the Evergreen Line is operating — and transferring those resources to fund the new plan, according to the Northeast Sector Area Transit Plan (NESATP) report released last month.
These transit network changes are expected to expand service to new or underserved areas and include:
• frequent all-day service between PoCo Central and the Coquitlam Central SkyTrain station via a combined 151 and 160 route;
• frequent service on the Evergreen corridor and on Guildford Way and Pinetree Way via a new 7 route and the 160;
• more direct connections between Westwood Plateau and Heritage Mountain and the Coquitlam Central and other SkyTrain stations;
• larger buses on high-demand routes such as the C24 and C30;
• frequent connections to SFU from Burquitlam Station;
• and increased hours of operation on several routes to align with Evergreen hours.
Port Moody Mayor Mike Clay said his city is already well served by transit and the NESATP didn't propose significant changes for local users, apart from the loss of stops on the 97 B-Line.
"With the Evergreen Line, it becomes redundant but we do lose some stops on there," he said, noting Glenayre residents will have to take a community shuttle to Burquitlam to hop on the Evergreen Line.
But the plan will benefit other residents, he added, including those on Heritage Mountain who will be able to access SkyTrain stations more directly, and those living near Thermal Drive, which will see a new 153 route linking to the Inlet Centre station.
Clay said the city will be watching what happens to the 160 route, which parallels the West Coast Express but offers better service hours, and, if it stops at Brentwood in Burnaby, what connections will be provided for riders.
PoCo Mayor Greg Moore said his city will see "great changes" under the plan, particularly the all-day, frequent bus service — between five and 15 minutes, depending on the time of day — from downtown to Coquitlam Central station.
The 159 that connects downtown PoCo through Mary Hill and Citadel Heights to Braid Station will also be streamlined to benefit south PoCo residents, Moore said.
Dominion Triangle residents will also get improved service via a rerouted C37 community shuttle that will connect with Fremont Village.
The NESATP also outlines high, medium and low priorities for transit expansion as funding becomes available.
High priorities include service to Burke Mountain connecting to Coquitlam Central; peak-only connections between Coquitlam and Surrey Central stations; and more service along high-use corridors in Austin Heights and Maillardville.
Medium priorities would provide more service between Anmore, Belcarra and Port Moody; service to Partington Creek on Burke Mountain; and more connections between Coquitlam Central and north PoCo.
Low priorities include expanded service on Dewdney Trunk Road and to Citadel Heights in PoCo.
The NESATP is similar to what the mayors' plan outlined for the recent transit referendum but, with no new funding, Moore said there won't be the same kind of frequent service and new routes.
Clay agreed, saying the plan doesn't provide the kind of interconnectivity between the Tri-Cities and Richmond, Surrey, Langley and elsewhere that the mayors' plan had provided.
"What was lost in the referendum defeat was those bigger-picture connections," Clay said.
Another notable loss in the NESATP is the name Evergreen Line; it's referred to throughout the report as the Evergreen extension to the Millennium Line.
Little has been said about the possible name change since last summer and, while it is still referred to as the Evergreen Line on the project website, the new transit plan details how the Millennium Line will seamlessly connect Coquitlam to Vancouver via the Evergreen extension.
Clay said after investing so much in marketing the Evergreen Line, changing the name now may be more confusing for riders.
"They think it would be confusing to have it change names in the middle but, personally, I don't agree with that. I think given time, people would adapt," he said. "But I don't think it will be a big deal either way."
• Visit www.translink.ca to see the full report.