The morning commute will be getting a lot easier for some Agassiz residents, thanks to nine new bus stops coming to the Agassiz-Harrison Transit system.
Barclay Pitkethly, director of regional programs for the Fraser Valley Regional District, presented the results of the Agassiz-Harrison Transit review to Kent council Monday, which looked at the need for a service expansion in the District of Kent.
“There’s lots of opportunity to residents to get into Chilliwack and out of Agassiz,” Pitkethly said. “But coming home … we were getting a lot of requests for bus stops where people actually need to get off, where they live.”
The regional district and the District of Kent worked together to come up with nine new bus stop locations, mostly in the eastern residential suburbs of Agassiz, that would fill this need without impacting traffic or private property.
(Existing stops are identified in green. New stops are in orange.)
Pitkethly said the addition of the new stops means the route has reached the maximum number of stops it can have in the District of Kent without impacting service times or costs.
A new stop had been considered at Golf Road on Highway 9, after a number of residents had called requesting service to that area. However, the bike lane and the speed of the road would have made it difficult to put a permanent stop there.
Instead, the regional district is creating an on-request service for Golf Road, similar to what currently exists for the community cultural and recreation centre on Pioneer Avenue. This is a cost-neutral option for the district.
“We don’t expect this to be a lot of uptake,” Pikethly said, “but those residents that live there, they can call ahead and get the bus to pick them up.”
Service on Golf Road will only be offered during off-peak hours: between 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. for people travelling to Chilliwack, and 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. for people travelling to Harrison.
In addition to the new bus stops, council also voted to go ahead with four grant applications to bring new bus shelters to the community.
At this point, it’s not certain where these shelters would go — if the grant is successful, then a study would be undertaken to find out where they are most needed.
The grants would cover 80 per cent of the costs for the shelters, which would leave the district with a $4,000 or $5,000 bill for each shelter if the grant goes through.
Although the upcoming additions to Agassiz’s transit system are filling a need in the community, there is possibly more in the works.
“Now we really need to look at where’s the future demand for transit,” Pitkethly said.
Currently, the regional district is looking to see if it’s possible to join the Agassiz and Mission transit systems, to service the local First Nations communities, Lake Errock and possibly Mount Woodside. Other questions on the regional district’s mind include whether Agassiz transit should be extended later in the evening or have more frequent trips on weekends.
Fraser Valley Regional District will be holding a public engagement session on April 2 from 9 a.m. to noon at Kent’s municipal hall (7170 Cheam Ave). Input from the sessions, which are also taking place in Chilliwack and Hope, will be incorporated into the Transit Future Action Plan.