News Local

Riders ignoring new Fraser Valley Express

By Michael Mui, 24 Hours Vancouver

The new route 66, Fraser Valley Express.
BC Transit photo

The new route 66, Fraser Valley Express. BC Transit photo

The new Fraser Valley Express created last year to connect people from Abbotsford and Chilliwack to downtown Langley isn’t exactly on everyone’s lips yet — and the low ridership figures reflect that.

But that’s to be expected, says BC Transit.

A review shows that the service, which began in April last year and is funded at a cost of $1.35 million split between municipalities and BC Transit, has only recorded an average of six passengers per hour so far.

“When you look at something like six riders per hour comparing with an established service in place for several years, it is low,” said Rebecca Newlove, senior transit planner at BC Transit.

However, she pointed to a transit line on Vancouver Island that started out with similarly humble ridership figures in 2009, but has since grown to 19 passengers per hour in 2014.

“Ridership takes time to establish with the introduction of new service and the figures we see meet and are expected to exceed our projections.”

The new line, also known as route 66, provides 17 round trips per weekday — at a base cost of $5 per trip — from downtown Chilliwack to the Carvolth Exchange in Langley, where many switch to board TransLink’s 555 express to continue the rest of the way to Vancouver.

In its first eight months of operation, the transit line saw a total revenue of $155,599 through 41,749 rides.

A survey conducted by BC Transit suggests many riders were still learning about the service by word of mouth, and that among those who didn’t use the service, 30% said the reason was they’d never heard of it.

Among the concerns received by BC Transit was how traffic disruptions could significantly affect service along the Highway 1 route — Newlove said BC Transit is working with the ministry to establish bus-lanes.

The transit authority also plans an anniversary marketing campaign for the new route’s one-year milestone.

Ridership/revenue by month:

April $3,383/$14,057

May $4,567/$17,224

June $4,645/$18,492

July 4,809/$18,475

August 5,382/$20,430

September 6,397/$23,052

October 5,813/$21,198

November 6,753/$22,671