TransLink is set to begin work on a sorely needed facelift for the Lonsdale Quay transit exchange.
The transit authority will soon award contracts for an approximately $8-million renovation for the 40-year-old bus loop and passenger hub at the SeaBus entrance.
“We’re organizing this space in a way that makes a lot more sense,” said TransLink spokesman Chris Bryan. “It’s about smoothing it out, making it brighter, making it more pedestrian friendly.”
Project manager Daniel Kabat grins ear to ear when he talks about the changes coming, starting with a new glass canopy over the passenger hub.
“People will actually be able to see there is light up there,” he said.
The kiosk used by the Transit Police and bus drivers in front of Chadwick Court will be demolished and replaced with a new one farther north so it no longer blocks natural light. A new planter and more bike racks will be placed at the former kiosk site.
The transit island itself will have a new, brighter canopy that flairs out over the bus bays. Two of the bus bays will be extended to make room for articulated buses required for B-Line service.
The ticket machines will be moved, and the hodgepodge of signs added over the years will be consolidated to better direct visitors to their destinations. TransLink is also planning to install two new “monolith” signs on the east and west entrances, including countdown clocks so you won’t have to sprint, only to realize you’ve just missed your SeaBus.
All of the advertising currently on the west wall of the bus loop will be moved over to the east wall and be replaced with a public art piece that stretches the length the loop.
“We’re really excited about this,” Kabat said. “It’s an awesome theme that blends with our landscape here in North Vancouver – the mountains and the ocean. There is a message behind the art and it’s really good.”
The City of North Vancouver is chipping in $250,000 for the public art. In 2015, when the City of North Vancouver was embarking on its visioning process for Lower Lonsdale and the Shipyards district, consultant Roger Brooks had some choice words for the facility’s esthetic.
“I’ve got to tell you, coming and getting off the SeaBus, your first impression of North Vancouver is about as poor as I’ve ever seen in the 1,000 cities I’ve worked in,” Brooks said.
The city has been urging TransLink to improve the exchange for even longer.
“Improving this gateway has been a council desire for more than a decade so the city’s pleased that TransLink is proceeding with the improvements,” said city spokeswoman Connie Rabold. “Staff have asked TransLink to provide details of their construction and traffic management plans, and will then review those plans as part of the building permit process. All parties will do their best to mitigate impacts of this project.”
Keeping the exchange in operation throughout the construction will be the most challenging part of the project, Kabat said, but TransLink will rejig some of the bus schedules and consolidate the loop slightly during the nine-month project. The Kiss and Ride on Chadwick Court will also have to be temporarily moved as well.
When it is all finished, Kabat said it will be a public space befitting the city’s burgeoning waterfront, along with the Spirit Trail, the Shipyards and the Polygon Gallery.
“It’s not just a project for our TransLink customers. I think it’s really for the community,” he said.
The bus loop has about 5,000 boardings per weekday. The SeaBus serves roughly 18,000 transit users daily.