West Vancouver will decide fate of Marine Drive B-Line bus in March

North Shore News

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To B or not to B-line?

West Vancouverites and TransLink will have their answer in March.

Though it wasn’t a public hearing, District of West Vancouver council chambers overflowed Monday night with residents and business owners wanting to sound-off on proposed B-Line bus service linking Dundarave to Phibbs Exchange.

TransLink B-Line bus on the 99 route in Vancouver (Joe A. Kunzler Photo, AvgeekJoe Productions via Flickr)

Those opposed outnumbered those in support by a margin of about two-to-one. The opposition cited the bus priority lanes along Marine Drive and the removal of a handful of street parking spots that would be required to keep the express bus running on time.

Ambleside merchant David Jones said any measures that reduce private car access to the village centre could add up to a “fatal blow” for businesses in Ambleside.

“In the 50 years I’ve lived in West Vancouver, this B-Line proposal, with the lane closures, is the most delusional idea I’ve seen surface from this district office,” he said.

Business owner Nigel Malkin told council to stop the B-Line route at Park Royal.

“This is TransLink and the district pushing a cookie cutter agenda on us and not listening to the community’s wants or needs,” he said.

Peter McHugh warned council that making Marine Drive less convenient for drivers by forcing them all to share one lane would only send them to Bellevue Avenue or other east-west rat runs.

“There is no way in the world that any person of any common sense can close a lane and expect all these trucks and all the normal traffic to use one lane,” he said, noting alternate routes are frequented by pedestrians and seniors. “If this lane is closed, (Bellevue) will be a freeway and other streets above will be too. Everybody is going to look for another way.”

Freda Pagani, however, said seniors stand to gain the most from the B-Line, especially when they’ve stopped driving.

“Those individuals with a little to lose are trying to prevent an initiative that would be a significant gain to many in the community. A couple of parking spaces per block are a small sacrifice in return for a safe, speedy and frequent transit link across the North Shore,” she said.

Peter Deutsch said at first glance, he too was put off by the traffic calming measures designed to keep the bus moving. But after reviewing TransLink’s methodology, Deutsch said he no longer bought into the negative rhetoric surrounding the proposal.

“Even with these lanes removed, we wouldn’t see that much of an impact. They said the maximum impact would be five seconds across five intersections,” he said. “I don’t believe that TransLink is the bogeyman. They are not out for us. I believe they do have our best interests in mind.”

Mayor Mary-Ann Booth noted West Vancouverites have long been calling for measures to improve congestion but she emphasized the final decision will be up to West Vancouver council after a four-to-six-week consultation process.

“Now we have a significant transit improvement proposal before us, which, if turned down, may not come along for another decade,” she said. “Council and the community need time to carefully consider this proposal before we make a decision.”