Cloverdale needs more transit options, writes columnist Frank Bucholtz. (Black Press Media file)

BUCHOLTZ: Cloverdale leaders need to advocate for more transit solutions

Ridesharing suggestion is good, but organizations such as the Cloverdale BIA need to do more

The Cloverdale Business Improvement Association makes a compelling case for ridesharing — it would give residents of the area a viable alternative to what has to be characterized as poor transit service.

Executive director Paul Orazietti says transit service is “woefully inadequate and the future does not look promising.” The BIA believes Uber and Lyft are good options to improve the ability of people to get to and from Cloverdale.

Regular bus service came to Cloverdale when the NDP government of Dave Barrett expanded B.C. Hydro’s transit service area to include Surrey, White Rock, Delta and Langley in the early 1970s. At that time, two bus routes served Cloverdale – the 320 to Guildford, Whalley and New Westminster and the 640 to Delta and the Tsawwassen ferry terminal. Both originated in Langley City.

Fast forward 46 years or so. Cloverdale has grown greatly. Areas which were rural are filled with housing — in West Cloverdale, south of Highway 10, north of 64 Avenue, in Clayton (which has almost become a self-contained town centre) and in almost all the once-rural areas between 184 Street and the Langley border.

With the exception of transit service along Fraser Highway, which serves Clayton and a portion of North Cloverdale quite well, there has been almost no change to bus service. The 320 still operates, usually on a 15-minute schedule. Another bus runs along 64 Avenue, and there are a couple of infrequent community shuttle bus routes.

While SkyTrain is proposed for the Fraser Highway corridor, it won’t come any closer to Cloverdale than Fry’s Corner (Fraser Highway and 176 Street). Residents of Cloverdale who rely on bus service won’t see much in the way of improvements.

Where the Cloverdale bus service really falters is in off-peak hours. In the evening, it is barely possible to go to and from Cloverdale by bus. Weekends aren’t too much better. This is despite the fact that the fairgrounds and casino complex attract a lot of people to Cloverdale for many different events.

A number of community events in the downtown area are also hard to get to, unless you have a car. The newly-renovated Museum of Surrey, the largest Remembrance Day event in Surrey and many shopping opportunities are all very hard to access if a car isn’t available.

A significant number of people in Cloverdale do not have cars — particularly in the core downtown area. New multi-family housing projects are attracting more people to the downtown area, but it will be hard for them to use transit to get to and from work. This makes Cloverdale a less attractive place to live, as many people rely on transit to get to their jobs.

Ridesharing is one of the solutions, but it is not enough. Community leaders and organizations such as the BIA need to press Surrey council, the Mayors’ Council and TransLink to make significant improvements to transit service in Cloverdale. There needs to be a dedicated shuttle bus to SkyTrain when the line opens. The 320 needs to run more often, and later at night. More community shuttle routes are needed to penetrate various Cloverdale neighbourhoods.

Cloverdale residents all pay taxes to support TransLink, and there are enough of them that improved transit service is a necessity.

Frank Bucholtz writes weekly for the Cloverdale Reporter, as well as at frankbucholtz.blogspot.ca.



editor@cloverdalereporter.com

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