Water buses proposed for Fraser River in Metro Vancouver

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      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.




      Jul 20, 2011 at 11:06pm

      The harbour ferries in Vancouver and Victoria appear to be private companies that run at a profit. Could they start on a small scale like that ?

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      Evil Eye

      Jul 21, 2011 at 10:49am

      Oh, let's go whole hog and operate amphibus........


      ......why fool around with boats when a bus will do it better.

      Then we can get amphi-skytrain, no need for expensive bridges or tunnels, just drive it the water!

      I wonder where they keep the lifeboat?

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      Jul 26, 2011 at 2:16am

      4 vessels, at 1000 dollars and hour is 4 grand an hour. How many buses can translink run for the same amount ?

      And that river is full of logs and barge traffic. And what about when the weather gets bad ? What about mechanical problems ?

      Never happen

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      Jul 28, 2011 at 11:09pm

      I think a lot of that space on the Fraser docks is being presently wasted. As is a lot of time pondering to the depths of our souls if such an endeavor would: "really work". Also , wasting a lot of time, so-called "thinking".
      I'd love to see this happen. Some linear thinking here would go a long way. Dont forget , that time on the water is leisure and we here on the coast love our leisure time like no other. Less noise, less stress,...nice scenery. Time to actually talk...

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      T Dickson

      Aug 5, 2011 at 8:02pm

      How does someone get ahold of the Fraser River bus Society? Want to invest.
      Cheers T Dickson

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