Phibbs Exchange in North Vancouver.
Mike Bell / PNG
A new express bus carrying passengers between the North Shore and a SkyTrain station, across the Ironworkers Memorial Bridge, could be up and running by next spring.However, the region’s mayors would have to approve taking $650,000 per year in funding from the planned expansion of another bus route and using it for the new express bus.The idea of a bus connecting Phibbs Exchange and the SkyTrain system has already been endorsed by the City of North Vancouver and District of North Vancouver, and was recommended the Integrated North Shore Transportation Planning Project, which looked at ways to address transportation challenges across the North Shore.The area has seen a steady increase in congestion on its roads, and according to the plan’s analysis, a trip across the Ironworkers Bridge during rush hour can take three or four times as long as at other times of the day, and a crash or stall can increase that time exponentially.The planning report also calls for a technical review to determine what transit priority measures can be put in place around the bridgeheads at the Lions Gate and Ironworkers, and on connecting arterial roads, so transit doesn’t get bogged down by congestion and service is quick and reliable. This is separate from the express bus proposal.When asked how the bus would be reliable and fast in the face of heavy congestion on the Ironworkers Bridge, TransLink spokesperson Lida Paslar said it will be able to use the McGill exit lane at the south end of the bridge to jump the queue, and TransLink believes some commuters will ditch their cars in favour of the express bus, easing congestion.Money, equivalent to 6,000 annual service hours, for the express bus would come from the 231 Harbourside bus route, according to a report from the Joint Regional Transportation Planning Committee.The 231 runs the 2.7 kilometres from the Harbourside area to Lonsdale Quay during the morning and afternoon peak hours on weekdays. Its ridership has been on the decline for years — in 2014 it saw 54,000 boardings, and in 2018 there were 35,000. Average daily boardings dropped from 220 to 140 in the same period.It was expected that a mixed-use community would take shape in the Harbourside area and the bus route would be expanded accordingly by 2020 or 2021, using $650,000 per year set aside in the second phase of the region’s 10-year transportation plan.However, the report states, “the planned mixed-use community has not developed at the rate initially anticipated.”The route will keep running, but it will not be expanded in the foreseeable future.TransLink’s Mayors’ Council will consider on Thursday whether to give staff the go-ahead to reallocate the money for an express bus.If approved, the transit authority plans to do public consultation and gather feedback about the design of the proposed route in the fall. It is working with the city and district of North Vancouver, as well as the City of Burnaby on routing and the train connection.The express bus could be running as early as April.email@example.com/jensaltmanRelated