Here’s one idea to get people out of their cars and off the roads: how about a new water bus on the Fraser River?
According to Jeff Malmgren, this mode of transportation connecting communities from Richmond to Maple Ridge would also lessen the strain on the transit system as well as cut the commuting time of many who travel from the suburbs.
Malmgren, a director with the Fraser RiverBus Society, will present the concept at a meeting of the regional planning committee of Metro Vancouver on Friday (July 22).
“If you take a look at transit plans in the Lower Mainland, everything leads to the centre of the city [of Vancouver],” Malmgren told the Straight in a phone interview. “Although there’s certainly a large number of people who work downtown and come out of downtown, a large and growing number of people trans-commute. If they live in Coquitlam and work in Richmond, their transit options are essentially to get on some sort of vehicle and go downtown.”
According to a summary made by Metro Vancouver staff, the proposed water bus system would employ four vessels with a projected capacity of 10,000 to 15,000 passengers per day. It will be integrated with the TransLink network.
New Westminster mayor Wayne Wright noted that the concept is “interesting”. According to Wright, a member of the regional planning committee, the operators of his city’s Paddlewheeler Riverboat Cruises had talked about something similar but smaller in scale.
“They were looking at maybe connecting the Surrey side, and then from our downtown-market area over to Queensborough,” Wright told the Straight by phone. “And the [Starlight] casino may have an interest in putting a park-and-ride so that people won’t have to use the bridges and then they can come back and go on the SkyTrain. So as a concept, I think it’s a great possibility.”
Committee vice chair Judy Dueck said that it’s “smart” to use the river for public transportation.
“The question is, ”˜Can it sustain itself and how much subsidy would it require?’ ” Dueck, a Maple Ridge councillor, told the Straight in a phone interview. “There’s no way you could afford to do that. People could not afford to take that mode of transportation. Just on the surface, it appears to be very costly.”
According to the Metro staff summary, the system may require a capital cost of up to $20.4 million, with an hourly operating expense of $1,000 per vessel.