FVX rolls out from Chilliwack for the first time

The new #66 bus route linking the communities of Chilliwack, Abbotsford and Langley saw a VIP ride on Tuesday morning

Dignitaries and representatives from BC Transit wait for the 10:15 Fraser Valley Express #66 bus to depart from Spadina Avenue in Chilliwack on Tuesday.

All aboard the Fraser Valley Express!

The new express bus rolled out from Chilliwack to points west for the first time Tuesday morning.

The new #66 bus route linking the communities of Chilliwack, Abbotsford and Langley saw an honourary VIP ride with local MLAs, municipal reps and BC Transit climbing aboard to test it out.

Mayor Sharon Gaetz is thrilled to see the FVX finally coming to fruition. Service starts on Monday, April 6.

“It is really happening! It doesn’t seem that long ago we were at UFV to receive an armload of petitions asking for this bus service,” Gaetz remembered. “We knew there was very strong demand for it from the university, and from the community in general.”

Suddenly there are so many options.

Some will take the bus to work, or access medical services at the Abbotsford Regional Hospital.

“I think some people might use it for pleasure to head to Abbotsford or elsewhere by bus to go shopping or see a movie,” said Gaetz.

“A lot of people will choose not to drive their cars, for a variety of reasons. It’s a whole new opportunity to get out of the community and go the big city, or to the Abbotsford Airport.”

Funding shared by BC Transit, and the cities of Chilliwack and Abbotsford, mean the route is heavily subsidized. The provincial share of the costs is at 53%.

“We could not be doing this without our partners, like BC Transit,” she said.

The community has been eagerly awaiting the new route and having an express bus to Abbotsford was an issue in recent elections, said Chilliwack MLA Laurie Throness.

“It’s a proud and happy day for Chilliwack,” he said before boarding the bus.

The transit fare of $5 allows riders to travel the FVX for 65 kilometres, which is very economical to boot, the MLA said, compared to Vancouver transit rates.

“It will help people think about their transportation choices and offer an economic alternative to driving,” added Gaetz. “People in the community are saying, ‘It’s about time!’ and they are excited.”

The bus between Chilliwack and points west was always high on the BC Transit list of “need to have” bus routes, and the demand for service was high whenever people were surveyed in the service communities.

On Easter Monday, April 6, riders can board the FVX and ride for free that first day of service.

The long-awaited #66 route has three local stops: at the Lickman Park & Ride, at Vedder and Luckakuck, and at the downtown exchange on Spadina Avenue.

It should take just under an hour and half to take the bus from Chilliwack to Langley, at at estimated 79 minutes, and with transfers to get to the ferries in 222 minutes.

In Abbotsford, the Express will stop at the McCallum park and ride and Highstreet Shopping Centre, and in Langley at the Carvolth Exchange.

It will cost $5 for a ticket and free for kids eight years and under. A book of 10 tickets will cost $45, and an adult monthly pass will be $100 and a student/senior monthly pass will cost $85. To purchase bus fares go to chilliwack.com/transit.

jfeinberg@theprogress.com

Twitter.com/chwkjourno