BC Transit’s three-year expansion plan could lead to a dramatic increase in service hours on Mission routes. (Black Press Media file photo)

BC Transit’s three-year expansion plan could lead to a dramatic increase in service hours on Mission routes. (Black Press Media file photo)

BC Transit’s 3-year expansion plan would increase Mission bus hours by over a third by 2025

Additional trips would add 9,250 more service hours

Buses operating in Mission could be adding 9,250 more service hours over the next three years, according to a BC Transit plan, increasing current hours by over a third.

On Nov. 15, Mission councillors unanimously voted to sign on to BC Transit’s three-year expansion plan that is looking to secure funding in the next provincial budget in February, 2022.

Until recently, expansion to the Central Fraser Valley’s Regional Transit System, which is shared between Mission and Abbotsford, was held back by capacity limitations of the latter city’s operations and maintenance facility, according to BC Transit’s plan.

The Abbotsford transit hub was moved to a new facility in 2020 which allows for the parking of up to 150 buses (currently there are 89).

From 2014 to 2019, ridership increased 33 per cent annually in the Fraser Valley Regional District, with the vast majority of that growth from Abbotsford and Mission, according to BC Transit.

They said while there was a massive drop when COVID-19 hit, local ridership has returned to 75 per cent of pre-pandemic levels.

“What we can say is, in the Central Fraser Valley (CFV), we are bucking the provincial trend,” said Adriana McMullen, senior transit planner for BC Transit.

“It really gives us a strong indication there is some really strong interest in demand for transit.”

Mission buses currently have 22,000 to 25,000 service hours a year, and some are already reaching critical capacity which needs to be fixed before more routes are added, McMullen said.

The improvements in the upcoming fiscal year are “fairly modest,” she said, but much more is coming from 2023 to 2025.

Strangely, the ridership demand is higher on Sundays than Saturdays in Mission, McMullen said, so another 450 service hours are being added on Sundays.

These include turning Routes 31 and 34 into an hourly service by adding three trips each, adding one to two trips to Route 32, and adding a morning and evening trip to Route 33. Handi-DART service will also be expanded to provide service on Sundays and Holidays.

In 2023/2024, 1,300 service hours will be added to weekday schedules with one additional bus. Route 31, Route 32, Route 33 and Route 34 will all be getting two new additional trips.

In 2024/2025, 5,600 service hours will be added with two to three buses, and the route network will be redesigned to extend service to the Silver Creek Industrial Park.

There is a plan drafted to create a new route linking Mission and Kent, with stops scheduled at the smaller communities along Highway 7. This would add 2,500 service hours with two light buses.

Opportunities also exist to connect Mission closer to Metro Vancouver by expanding service on 701 Translink Bus, which travels from Mission and to Haney four times a day, according to BC Transit’s plan.

RELATED: BC Transit experiencing service challenges in Abbotsford, Mission, Chilliwack


@portmoodypigeon
patrick.penner@missioncityrecord.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

BC TransitMission