The North Vancouver B-Line set to eliminate the 239 bus route
Annalisse Crosswell, Associate News Editor
While students and North Vancouver residents await the beginning of an express bus service, TransLink is working behind the scenes to procure buses and design the final route. The East to West B-Line bus route, which is part of TransLink’s 10 year plan, will begin service from Dundarave to Phibbs Exchange in late 2019, cancelling out the 239 bus route.
The route’s success was a topic of discussion at last month’s mayoral debate on campus.
“We’re working with the cities as well in the area to bring in some priority measures like bus lanes or advanced signals to help the bus go more reliably,” said Jill Drews, the senior issues management advisor for TransLink. She said that this is the most important reason to partner with cities on projects such as this, to ensure the express route is in fact faster than other routes.
The 239 route that will be eliminated is used frequently by Capilano University students and, unlike the B-Line, takes riders directly to campus. This poses an issue for students that TransLink hasn’t resolved, but Capilano Students’ Union (CSU) Vice President External, Noah Berson, noted that there are several options under consideration. One option to solve the transportation issue for students is an exclusive shuttle that would travel between Phibbs Exchange and CapU, which Berson argued, has the benefit of being a route with low traffic density, which would result in it having a more consistent schedule.
The other option, which is to increase the frequency of the 130 and 28 bus routes that only travel to CapU during peak hours, will appeal more to Burnaby residents and students coming across the Ironworkers Memorial Bridge.
Berson sees many positives to this new B-Line. The route has the capacity to do a lot more than just increase East-West travel across the North Shore. It would also make Seabus travel more feasible because transit between Phibbs Exchange and Lonsdale Quay would be more efficient, along with redirecting some of the traffic on Second Narrows. “You’re going to start to have people who are bussing across the bridge being like: ‘Why don’t I take the bus?’” said Berson, who believes that if the B-Line is a success, it could increase the number of public transit users.
During the all-candidates forums on campus leading up to the municipal elections last month, Berson said he specifically made an effort to talk to those running about the importance of the success of this project. “I think that if this project is rolled out well, it’ll be a really important milestone in… freeing up the traffic that exists on the North Shore,” he said. “If it doesn’t go well it could potentially set back some of the progress TransLink and the West Vancouver Bus Company have made on the opinions on transit.”
“We’re always listening, so once this is implemented, we do encourage customers to tells us what they think,” added Drew. TransLink has four schedule changes a year in which changes can be implemented if required. She also emphasized the fact that this service will ultimately make commuting faster, although it will require students to change their habits.