Andy Shen: Coquitlam needs more efficient and effective transit
By Andy Shen
One of the most important issues in Coquitlam is that of transportation, especially the Evergreen Line. TransLink is working hard to serve the community, but has not served it enough.
In Coquitlam, we have multiple forms of transportation. We have the passenger trains, public buses, bike lanes, roads, and streets. Taking into account data from Canada’s 2006 census, the city’s engineering and public works department has reported that 14.7 percent of Coquitlam uses public transit. Meanwhile, 66 percent of residents take their personal conveyances (cars) to get to work. For Coquitlam to compete with other nearby cities, our transportation infrastructure needs to become more efficient and effective.
The time it takes to leave and arrive at Lougheed Town Centre Station to ride the SkyTrain is considerable depending upon where one lives. For example, it takes me approximately 50 minutes to get from where I live to the SkyTrain. Of that, I spend 14 minutes on the community shuttle and 20 minutes on the 97 B-Line from Newport Village with approximately 14 minutes of transferring done in between. Also, since I am a Westwood Plateau resident I have noted there are four main bus routes in service and they are the C27, C28, C29, and the 179. On these routes, buses arrive every 30 minutes to once an hour; this discourages people from utilizing public transportation more frequently.
Since the City of Coquitlam’s development of Burke Mountain, a new artery route called the Davis Avenue Connector was built, allowing residents to drive around Coquitlam without going through Port Coquitlam to reach their destination.
Unfortunately public transport services have not adapted to the changes in the area as of yet in terms of efficient re-routing of services. On Burke Mountain, the ratio is one bus route to every 4,000 residents. For instance, route C38 transports residents to Port Coquitlam. To get from Burke Mountain to Douglas College or even Coquitlam City Hall, they could take an eight-minute car ride through the David Avenue Connector, 54 minutes worth of walking, or the alternative is they would have to spend an hour minimum on public transportation. Seniors who live on Burke Mountain should not have to walk or sit for an hour to pay their property tax or get to town centre.
In regard to future transportation planning, a capital project that TransLink is working on is the Evergreen Line. It would take residents from Coquitlam Town Centre or Douglas College to Lougheed Town Centre in about 13 minutes rather then the conventional 40-minute bus ride.
In building this project, the capital needed is $1.4 billion for this SkyTrain extension, and so far TransLink has allocated $400 million, the provincial government is committing $400 million, and the federal government has committed $350 million. The financing of the Evergreen project comes to a total of $1.15 billion between all governments and organizations, with a shortfall of $0.25 billion for its completion.
The discussion of building the SkyTrain to Coquitlam began back in the ’80s during the Expo years. As a concerned citizen who takes public transport regularly, I would push to see the Evergreen Line completed. SkyTrain will help smooth commuter flow without causing further congestion of our roads. The province has committed itself to complete the Evergreen by the end of 2013.
There are plans for route redesigns in the region at the Evergreen Line Project Office. Being the only candidate that does not own an automobile and public transport as a means of conveyance, I would like to unite and represent transit riders in the region and help create a more efficient system. I would work together with my colleagues to implement a five-year plan to increase transit ridership and carpooling to 50 percent and, over 10 years, a reduction of greenhouse gases from car exhaust by 10 percent.
The Simon Fraser Student Society, the undergraduate student union at SFU, has an advocacy committee that I currently sit on as an at-large member. One of our recent projects was the “More Buses Now” campaign. The purpose of the awareness campaign was to highlight the deficient service of the 145 and other transit routes to and from SFU.
I can be the voice of transportation responsibility for the City of Coquitlam as a candidate who is passionate about our environment.
Andy Shen is running for Coquitlam city council in the May 15 by-election.