Residents in Fraser Heights are petitioning for access to Highway 1 express bus service.
Currently, a 555 Port Mann Express bus connects Langley to the Braid Street SkyTrain station via Highway 1, passing Surrey without stopping. The service began last December.
The City of Surrey thought a stop would be built at the new 156th Street underpass until announcements came last November, and Surrey was left off the list.
Paul Lee, Surrey's rapid transit and strategic projects manager, said the stop was discussed back when the province announced the Port Mann Highway 1 project.
"Surrey went off thinking that when the thing is finished, we'd get a bus connection. In the end, there was none," he said.
On the provincial Transportation Investment Corporation (TI Corp.) website, reference is made to a "New dedicated transit/HOV on- and off-ramps for Highway 1 at 156th Street."
Lee said since the start of the express bus service in December 2012, city staff have been working closely with TransLink and TI Corp. to resolve the design and technical issues that would allow the construction of bus stops on the HOV ramps.
At the moment the city is working to reach an agreement on the funding of the construction of the bus stops, which would be fully equipped with shelters and accessible to wheelchair users.
TransLink spokesperson Jiana Ling said its been decided the 555 Port Mann Express bus can make a Surrey stop with its existing schedule, but the city needs to pay for the stop.
"Currently, the funding infrastructure is lying with the City of Surrey," she said.
Lee said the price tag for the bus stop is a substantial amount.
"It's not a $4,000 item. The city, at this point, is still looking at opportunities to cost-share that," he said.
Lee said the city only has a limited amount of money for transit improvements.
"If this thing is going to rob us of a couple of years' budget, then nobody gets any improvement, all the money is put here... We think that TransLink should contribute," he said.
Last November, when the bus route was announced, Surrey Mayor Dianne Watts was angry to learn it would pass Surrey without stopping.
She said it's unreasonable for the rapid bus line to pass a city of a half-a-million people, especially when residents are hit with the bridge's tolls.
Coun. Tom Gill, who lives in Fraser Heights, also wants to see a stop at that location.
Gill said the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure and TransLink failed to design and invest in a bus stop at the interchange.
Gill said it would make more sense to be able to hop on a highway express bus than backtrack through Surrey to access SkyTrain.
Fraser Heights resident Daniel Badragan wants access to a highway express bus.
"Currently, Surrey does not have any type of public transport over the Port Mann Bridge. In the past buses could not be placed on the bridge as it was too clogged. But now traffic runs smoothly over the bridge.
"Why does Langley have buses and Surrey doesn't?" he asked.
"Residents are taking the long way around when the easy alternative is to use the existing bridge," Badragan said.
With the addition of a highway express bus, residents could access the Braid SkyTrain station in approximately 10 minutes, he said.
A petition advocating for a bus stop at the 156th Street underpass has more than 100 signatures. Find it on www.ipetitions.com.
City staff have also been working with a prospective developer at the northeast corner of the intersection of 156th Street and 104th Avenue to plan for on-site bus layover and on-street bus stops.
The development layout would accommodate curbside bus stops on both 104th Avenue and 156th Street. A bus layover located on the development site is also being considered.
Another significant site improvement could involve a direct pedestrian path along the east side of 156th Street between the development and the Highway 1 HOV ramp intersection, which would ensure easy access to a future 555 Port Mann Express bus stop at the 156th Street underpass.
-With files from the Vancouver Sun
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