Willoughby transit could be improved as soon as next year

“If all the pieces fall into place, we could have really good news in a couple of months,” says TransLink director.

Sany Zein, TransLink director of infrastructure and network management, said improvements to bus service in Willoughby could be in place early next year. He was speaking at the Township’s fourth annual economic forum on Wednesday.

Sany Zein, TransLink director of infrastructure and network management, said improvements to bus service in Willoughby could be in place early next year. He was speaking at the Township’s fourth annual economic forum on Wednesday.

Willoughby residents could see some improvement to their bus service, Sany Zein, the TransLink director of infrastructure and network management, said Wednesday.

Zein was taking questions at the Oct. 22 fourth annual Langley Economic Forum (which had the theme of “the Future of Transportation in Langley”) when he was asked about a bus service to connect commuters in the densely-developed Willoughby neighbourhood to the Carvolth park and ride.

“If all the pieces fall into place, we could have really good news in a couple of months,” Zein said, adding TransLink is looking at freeing up the needed buses by “optimizing” existing transit service, which involves shuffling vehicles away from less busy routes.

Zein said TransLink has enough money to operate existing services at current levels, but expanding transit in the future will require additional funds.

Zein said public transit isn’t keeping up with the growth in communities south of the Fraser River like Langley and Surrey, as well as Maple Ridge.

Rapid transit, in particular, is “very under-provided [in those communities]” Zein said.

“South of the Fraser is where the growth has been happening and we haven’t been able to keep up because of lack of funding,” Zein said, adding “we need to do a lot more.”

Whether the money is available, he said, will be decided some time next year when a referendum is expected on a multi-billion proposal to beef up transit by a Lower Mainland mayor’s task force.

That plan calls for an expansion of light rail transit from Surrey to Langley within the next 10 years.

In response to another question, Zein said TransLink planners were reviewing the increasing amount of vehicle traffic along 16 Avenue, “actively looking into the short term, medium term and long-term future of that corridor” and he expected a report would be ready some time next year.

Asked if TransLink would provide washrooms for older riders, Zein said the transit agency is developing a “washroom policy” that would call for public washrooms at key locations.

Another speaker at the forum was Andrew Hind, a senior planner with the B.C. ministry of transportation and infrastructure, who said the province eventually plans to widen Highway one to five lanes all the way to Abbotsford.

Hind also said the new bridge that will replace the George Massey tunnel will be “eight to 10” lanes wide and will charge tolls.