Evergreen a game changer: Port Coquitlam mayor

Greg Moore says PoCo residents aren't losing out because they don't have a station because most are just one bus away from the rapid transit system — like the majority of Tri-City residents

Port Coquitlam residents shouldn't feel left out of celebrations for today's opening of the Evergreen Extension because they too benefit from the opening of the new SkyTrain route, says the city's mayor.

Greg Moore, a regular transit user himself, says routes that duplicate the Evergreen line have been redistributed, with the result that PoCo will get faster and more frequent service as well as direct bus connections to Coquitlam Central Station.

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"Most residents will be one bus away from getting to a SkyTrain station — that was one of our objectives," said Moore, who admitted some initial disappointment that the route didn't include his city, especially after city land was offered.

But once he "shifted mindset" the goal was how to integrate PoCo bus service to the line.

One major benefit will be that downtown PoCo will be part of the Frequent Transit Network, with buses coming every 15 minutes. "You don't have to memorize bus schedules anymore," the mayor said.

Service was also added to the Dominion Triangle and the city is working on a plan with Coquitlam, Maple Ridge, Pitt Meadows and Coquitlam for rapid bus.

While some increased service will be noticed right away some will come later as a result of the approval of the first phase of the mayor's 10-year transit plan.

For example, Citadel Heights residents will have a more direct connection to Braid Station on the Millennium Line with the rerouting of the 159 bus that now winds through the Mayfair Industrial Park. "That should happen in late spring of 2017," Moore said.

He said plans are also in the works to make it easier and safer to walk or bike to transit with a $300,000 city investment in active transportation, which TransLink is expected to match.

And with bike lockers at all the stations, as well as bike racks, Moore expects people to cycle to Coquitlam Central for their ride into work. "I think you are gong to see an increase in our commuter cycling go up substantially," he predicted.

Moore, who chairs the board of Metro Vancouver, and regularly travels between his Burnaby and Port Coquitlam offices via bus and SkyTrain, said the Evergreen Extension is a "game changer" and he plans to ride it often because it shaves half an hour off his commute.

OPENING TODAY

The Evergreen Extension officially opens today, Friday, Dec. 2, with the first train at noon, and celebrations starting at 10:30 a.m. at the Coquitlam Central Station and beginning at other Evergreen stations at 4 p.m. Festivities will continue until 7:30 p.m.

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