A bus from Chilliwack to Langley, funded largely by Abbotsford taxpayers? Brilliant! I want the job of the person who dreams up this crap. We have a 3% ridership in Abbotsford for a reason folks. No one is getting out of their car to take a bus. The only people riding the bus are those few among us who have no vehicle to fall back on. This means the bus population is limited to students, those unable to drive, and the poor.

So, instead of serving this market, we continue to think that if we just throw money at it, people will use the bus.


In a moment of incredible luck, the usual tax dollar spenders at our City Council are away and common sense prevails and the initial vote to fund this waste of time is denied. Mayor Banman is “surprised” by the outcome!! I guess he isn’t used to people actually taking the time to think about an issue and maybe not just spend our money every chance they get.

You’d think that when Henry Braun and Moe Gill, the only two Councillors who have ever shown any fiscal responsibility, vote against spending money on something, it would give you pause to review if it is actually a good idea. Not Banman…nope…he’s going to use his Executive Privilege to bring it back when the money spenders return from their holidays.

(It’s only fair to note that Les Barkman voted against funding the bus line too. Boy, I really want to attribute this moment of clarity on his part to the fact that John Smith was not present to tell him how to vote…but I won’t do that. Instead I’m going to thank him and ask him to please continue to review issues like these properly and vote on them with this newly exercised common sense.)

Has anyone bothered to ask what it will take to get people out of their cars? Does anyone care why people don’t like to rid the bus? The answer must surely be no, because no part of our current bus service, or the proposed “express” line is, in any way, tailored to get people out of their cars.

If you tell me that I can take the bus at about a third of the price of driving my car, but then tell me that trip will take 3 times longer, I’m going to stick to my car.

I really try. I’ve ridden the bus. I have a bus stop almost outside my house. When I have all the time in the world, I get on it and get off at Seven Oaks Mall. Total trip time, depending on the bus I take, is about 25 minutes to 35 minutes. Time in my car…about 5.

I take the bus purely out of conscience. Even at that, I don’t do it very often simply because I don’t have 20 minutes to waste.  Of course, my “true” fans would say that I could save 20 minutes by not writing these columns 🙂

So, if conscience is the only reason we might get out of our cars, we are wasting our money. 3% ridership means we could probably just pay for people’s cab rides on an individual basis and it would be cheaper.

So let’s review the details a bit here.

The Fraser Valley Regional District has decided to implement another waste of money… a direct bus from Chilliwack to Abbotsford to Aldergrove and then to Langley.

This means the Abbotsford Taxpayer is going to fund $600,000 towards a bus that connects Chilliwack to us. Is anyone here dying to get on a bus to Chilliwack when our local ridership is only 3%???

Why are we subsidizing their transportation system?

Why is the FVRD pushing this plan upon us with no consultation?

Don’t we have representation on the FVRD Board?

Why aren’t our City Councillors screaming bloody murder???

We have nearly a $1 billion tax liability in this community and now someone thinks a bus no one will use is worth another few hundred thousand.

If we don’t get our heads out of our behinds on simple issues like this, we are fiscally doomed.

What works is light rail.

All over the world, countries and cities are building light rail and it is working. Our only light rail system, the West Coast Express, experiences 60% to 90% ridership depending on trip schedule and time of year. Compared to 3%, where do you think we should be investing?

Too expensive you say? Let’s look around the world and see how others are doing it. In southern France there is a city called Grenoble. It has a population about 160,000 and they built their own light rail system. It circles and bi-sects the town, has huge ridership and it cost about $300 million to build, and less than the bus system it replaced for maintenance and operations.

Interested in the Grenoble Tram system? Read about all 35km here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grenoble_tramway. For more information on the city of Grenoble, please go here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grenoble

For those of you that enjoy debating these points with me, I invite you to explore all the European infrastructure developments that largely feature trams and light rail. See Brest, Bordeaux, Orleans, Montpelier and Riems…all in France where people actually riot when taxes go up. Construction cost is approximately 1/10th of Skytrain…on average.

Ironically…and I remind you…the annual losses on Plan A and the Abbotsford Heat will add up to about $150 million over the 25 years we will be in debt for that fiasco. This, of course, doesn’t count the $130 million we spent to build it. Hey! That’s almost $300 million.

The bottom line is that people will get out of their cars to ride the train. They won’t for buses. Simple as that, no further explanation required. So, give up on buses. Certainly don’t pay for another city’s bus service.

….normally, I would end my column there. Not a bad line to finish on, but I do want to throw one more thing at you. Since you all think I’m crazy anyway, why not end the column on a “crazy” thought.

I believe it is quite possible that the GVRD, the Province of BC and now the FVRD push buses precisely because they know that no one will ride them.

What? Why would they do that?

Gas tax folks. If people really got out of their cars, the government would be in serious trouble.

Remember the Express buses that were supposed to go over the new Port Mann bridge? They never happened because the Province couldn’t afford to lose the toll and gas tax revenue. So, no buses.

Herein lies my prediction. We’ll expand our local bus service…which no one will ride…and shortly after it starts operating, the FVRD will once again propose a gas tax out here the Valley.

Yep…that’s how I’ll end this column. They are coming for every last penny you have. You came to Abbotsford to buy an affordable house and maybe because gas being cheaper was a side benefit. What you found was property taxes that destroyed any savings on the house you bought, and now they’re coming for your gas money.

Thankfully, 3 City Councillor’s have stepped forward to question what has come down as an order from the FVRD to put money into this new bus line. Unfortunately, when the missing “spenders” return to the Council table, they’ll quickly vote to write this cheque…just like they always do.


Join the discussion 2 Comments

  • The Editor says:

    Jim Says:
    Vince, are you a transit expert? You should interview some people with knowledge of transit, like the guys at rail for the valley. They have a study about the implementation of light rail in the valley. Also, I do not ride the bus in Abbotsford because anywhere in Abbotsford is within walking distance or bike distance. If I want to go to Langley or beyond, the 21 connector doesn’t run a regular schedule, theres a gap in the middle and it ends early. A good connector out to 202 would be useful in my opinion. The express bus from 202 to braid works for me.

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  • The Editor says:

    Jim Says:
    Hmm just read that again, I didn’t intend to come off rude, I was legitimately asking because I don’t know what your knowledge of transit planning is. The main blogger on Rail for the Valley seems to know his stuff.
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