By Paul Henderson/Black Press
BC Transit service between from Hope and Chilliwack via Agassiz could arrive as early as September as part of a broader 10-year plan to expand transit infrastructure.
Recent consultation with residents, community groups and businesses in the eastern Fraser Valley found a keen interest among Hope residents in getting to Chilliwack.
“The District of Hope sees this as an important initiative to improve the quality of life for its residents,” said District of Hope Mayor Wilfried Vicktor in a BC Transit press release issued Monday. “Establishing regional transit will assist in Hope’s economic development and improve the ‘connectedness’ of friends and families throughout the region.”
BC Transit held four open house events in the fall attended by approximately 130 people. They also received 431 survey responses, 61 per cent of which were from Hope residents and 21 per cent from Chilliwack.
More than 40 per cent of those surveyed reported that they never ride transit, the reason being that there is no service in Hope.
One in three people surveyed said they would use the Hope service once or twice a week, or more if it was introduced at convenient times.
Fifty-six per cent indicated they would use the service if it came to Chilliwack while 11 per cent indicated the would use the service to Agassiz and 18 per cent in the opposite direction to Hope.
Among the reasons for using the service, tops at 31 per cent was social and recreation followed by 29 per cent for shopping and errands. A further 17 per cent said they would use it for medical appointments and 16 per cent for work.
The proposed route for the service runs along the Lougheed Highway from Hope to Agassiz, which would connect with the existing route to Chilliwack.
Chilliwack-Hope MLA Laurie Throness said expanding the service supports the government’s BC on the Move 10-Year Transportation Plan.
“Expanding service to the District of Hope and other surrounding communities has been identified as a priority by local residents and it is great to see progress moving toward final approval and implementation,” Throness said.
Fraser Valley Regional District (FVRD) chair, and Chilliwack city councillor, Jason Lum said he was pleased the province and BC Transit were engaging with communities to identify needs.
“Not only will this expansion greatly benefit residents and businesses in Hope, the service will also help to protect air quality and reduce highway congestion in the Fraser Valley,” Lum said in a press release.
BC Transit said the service is expected to be implemented in September, pending final approvals.