Surrey residents may yet get the chance to board an express bus over the Port Mann Bridge if Mayor Dianne Watts has her way.
Several years ago, TransLink, the city and private developers hatched a plan that would include commercial and residential development as part of a bus exchange at 156 Street near the TransCanada Highway.
That development never came to fruition, so plans for a transit exchange never left the conceptual stage.
As a result, there will be no access to an express bus heading over the new Port Mann Bridge from Surrey – the closest stop will be in Langley at 86 Avenue, just off 200 Street.
Watts said Tuesday news that it had been axed came amid Surrey’s negotiations to get it back on the drawing board.
The Leader first reported last week that the Surrey express stop is not on TransLink’s list of priority projects.
Now, Watts is proposing that about a million dollars in TransLink planned upgrades to the Newton Exchange be dropped, and the funding for that be used instead for the Surrey express stop.
“Take the upgrades (planned) for the Newton Exchange, which number one we don’t want, and two we’re moving (the bus loop) anyway,” Watts said Tuesday. “And we’re going to have more of those conversations as we go to TransLink.”
TransLink was unable to say by Leader press time whether Watts’ idea is viable.
TransLink has been scrambling for funding over the past years. Seemingly each idea gets nixed and punted at the cost of another user group.
Premier Christy Clark rejected area mayors’ call for a vehicle levy to avoid a $30 million that would be generated from a $23 property tax hike.
Municipalities have repeatedly declined raising those property taxes.
Vehicle levies, a share of carbon tax and road pricing are back under negotiation now that a provincial audit has been complete.
However, observers believe it’s unlikely the province will introduce those prior to next year’s election.
A provincial audit released in October recommended several areas of cost savings, including cutting frequency of SkyTrain service during non-peak times.
It’s against that backdrop that TransLink is being asked to consider building an extra stop in Surrey.
Watts believes TransLink can do it, if it just reallocates existing funds to something this city needs.