They’re faster than your average bus, have comfy seats and while not exactly SkyTrain, TransLink’s new RapidBus will help Port Coquitlam residents get to their destinations more quickly than traditional buses, says the city’s mayor.
“Number one, it is a better level of service in terms of frequency and being a direct connection, it’s a better customer experience,” said Brad West who got to kick the tires on the new buses that were revealed Tuesday along with new signage and a new name at a press conference.
PoCo is slated to get the new RapidBus and three stops in January, giving riders a fast connection between Haney Place in Maple Ridge and Coquitlam Central Station, where there are SkyTrain and West Coast Express (WCE) stations.
West said the new RapidBus, formerly the B-Line, is the largest transit investment in the city since WCE commuter rail was introduced, especially important since the city missed out on SkyTrain, a situation he hopes will one day be rectified.
“Look, if government is going to be telling everyone you’ve got to get out of your vehicle, you’ve got to give people viable options. Thus far, we haven’t got real viable options in Port Coquitlam,” West told The Tri-City News.
“The buses take these long, convoluted routes to get where they’re going. They don’t come frequently enough. Sometimes they’re either delayed or full.
"[A RapidBus] stopping at three points in PoCo and connecting with the Evergreen [Extension] every 10 to 15 minutes — that’s a significant improvement.”
The city is working with TransLink on improvements to ensure the route is seamless along Lougheed Highway. One sticking point is the aging bridge over the Coquitlam River. The city is working with senior levels of government to build a six-lane bridge, slated to cost $32.1 million.
“It’s pretty well at the top of our priority list in terms of infrastructure projects," West said. "That area can become a real bottleneck. Along with the fact that the bridge is aging and is towards the end of its life, we also need enhanced capacity on the Coquitlam River bridge for vehicles and for pedestrians and cyclists."
Tuesday, TransLink revealed the new RapidBus routes will be up to 20% faster because they will travel on bus-only lanes, have signal priority and be able to queue jump at intersections; as well, there will be fewer stops and all-door boarding, and buses will be larger, articulated vehicles.
Stops will be nicer, too, with real-time next-bus digital signage, real-time voice-activated information and shelters to keep riders dry.
Once it's running, the Lougheed RapidBus, which is seen as a precursor for a future rapid-transit rail line to Maple Ridge, will have seven stops between Coquitlam Central and Haney Place mall: Westwood, Shaughnessy and Ottawa streets in PoCo; Harris Road in Pitt Meadows; and 203 and Laity Street plus Haney Place in Maple Ridge.
Here's the map.