New express bus could link Metrotown and North Shore via Ironworkers bridge

North Shore News

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The North Shore not getting a Burrard Inlet-spanning SkyTrain but, following Monday’s council meetings, the area may be getting a new Burrard-Inlet spanning express bus.

By taking transit hours currently allocated for the run between Lonsdale Quay and Harbourside, the proposed express bus would link the North Shore with a Burnaby SkyTrain station. File photo by Cindy Goodman/North Shore News

The City and District of North Vancouver councils each unanimously endorsed a plan to cut transit service on West First Street in favour of an express bus connecting Phibbs Exchange to Burnaby’s SkyTrain network via the Ironworkers Memorial Second Narrows Crossing. Details of the route have yet to be determined but a district staff report listed Metrotown as a possible terminus.

The express could start running as early as January 2020, according to district staff.

The switch will be a “bit of a shift” for riders accustomed to taking the 231 bus from Lonsdale Quay to Harbourside, acknowledged city Mayor Linda Buchanan. However, Buchanan emphasized that the change will allow the North Shore’s commuting workforce to take the express to Phibbs before transferring to North Shore’s B-Line, which is slated to run as far west as Park Royal.

“I think it’s going to be, I’m hoping, a big game-changer for the North Shore,” she said.

City council approved an 800-unit strata-rental project in Harbourside in 2014 but occupancy is likely still a few years away, according to city staff. Due to that sluggish growth, city council advocated moving 10,000 transit hours toward the express bus. Approximately 6,000 of those hours would be a direct transfer from the 231 while the remainder are the result of “efficiencies identified by TransLink,” according to district and city staff.

The new service could help relieve congestion on the Ironworkers, district Coun. Jim Hanson said.

Coun. Mathew Bond lauded the express bus for opening up opportunities for transit riders.

“This proves that buses are [the] short-term and probably medium-term solution,” he said, addressing calls for rapid transit on the North Shore.

District and city staff are now set to work with TransLink and the City of Burnaby to iron out plans for the express bus.