Transit ‘optimization’ cuts do little to slow Carvolth development
Ground-level storefronts with mixed housing developments suited for transit will be the focus for Langley Township's Carvolth neighbourhood. (CARMINE MARINELLI, 24 HOURS)
For the third story in a weekly series, 24 hours looks at the Township of Langley’s ambitions in developing its Carvolth neighbourhood
"This area has the best level of transit access in the township after the Langley Regional Centre, and has existing access to a variety of designations in different directions by transit." — Brian Mills, TransLink
Langley’s Carvolth neighbourhood might be the only proposed “frequent transit development area” not on TransLink’s list of rapid 15-minute service, yet it’s still attracted large firms to set up shop due to its centralized highway location.
Township of Langley Mayor Jack Froese said Carvolth was left out of the 15-minute network due to TransLink’s “service optimization” cuts, designed to save money by moving buses onto major arterials where transit use is higher.
“You’re dealing with an organization like TransLink who’s being pressured from a variety of different sources to watch their budget, to shrink, to make sure their costs are in check,” he said.
“So they look at the area and say, well, ‘We don’t have the ridership there. Maybe we can tweak and cut some services.’”
Transit expansion hasn’t exactly stalled in Carvolth, however. The neighbourhood’s transit exchange opened in late 2012, bringing with it the No. 555 express bus route that shuttles passengers north and across the Port Mann.
Froese said the frequency of bus service along the highway is sufficient, as peak-hour buses arrive every 10 minutes. But during off-peak hours, the time triples to 30 minutes, he said.
Instead, Froese is looking to lobby for more frequent “feeder” bus routes leading to and from the exchange located at 202 Street.
TransLink system planning and research director Brian Mills said the area currently services several “key” bus connections to New Westminster, Pitt Meadows and Maple Ridge.
He said by email that focusing development in the area could increase transit demand enough to justify further increases in bus frequency.
Jason Chu, strategic planner for the township, said past development in the neighbourhood has already seen the B.C. Government and Services Employees Union and PharmaSave open their headquarters in the area.
The Fraser Health Authority also has its largest warehouse on location, where pharmacy supplies are packed in a building designed to withstand a major earthquake.
More recently, he said, auditing firm Deloitte and Touche also opened an office at one of two recently constructed, six-storey towers adjacent to the highway interchange.
According to the city’s plans, the number of dwellings in the area is expected to more than quadruple by 2041.