Easy street or road to ruin? West Van road changes for B-Line bus proving controversial
TransLink says all road users will benefit from lane, parking changes on Marine Drive
A new B-Line bus route slated for Marine Drive on the North Shore is shaping up to be a controversial development.
The route will connect Dundarave in West Vancouver to Phibbs Exchange in North Vancouver and will lead to changes on Marine Drive, home to many shops.
Some parking will be removed and a lane of traffic in each direction will be converted to Business Access and Transit (BAT) lanes, which will allow the buses to have a near-dedicated lane that drivers will only use to turn right or access street parking.
That proposal has the Ambleside-Dundarave Business Improvement Association concerned over congestion, reduced parking and what executive director Stephanie Jones calls the creation of a "drive-through commercial core."
"We rely on people coming through that lane," Jones told On The Coast host Gloria Macarenko. "We want people to get familiar with other stores that are in the neighborhood when they're trying to get to their destination, and this kind of B- Line process doesn't allow for that."
A Monday night council meeting in West Vancouver heard from opponents and defenders of the project.
Residents argue for, against changes
One resident, Nigel Malkin, said the planning process for the bus service was poor and didn't reflect residents' concerns.
"Shame on TransLink," Malkin said. "The community is sending out a very strong message that this is not for the Ambleside-Dundarave corridor."
Matt Rowan, on the other hand, defended what he called "reasonable, very tame" changes to Marine Drive as improvements that will reduce congestion for all road users and improve transit.
"People don't like commuting to West Van," Rowan said. "It takes an incredible amount of time, and we shave a lot of time off by actually accepting the B-Line, as opposed to telling TransLink to screw off with transit improvements for the next decade."
Other speakers echoed Jones' concerns about business impacts.
Transit ridership growing fast
TransLink's vice president of planning, Geoff Cross, said the lane changes would be necessary for frequent bus service. He said the new B-Line will allow for buses arriving at stops between eight and 15 minutes apart.
"We think we have a really good proposal that we've come up with in collaboration with the District of West Vancouver," Cross said.
"The idea is that we reorganize traffic and reduced the amount of conflict and, in the end, that everybody moves better, including transit."
According to TransLink, transit ridership in West Vancouver grew 9.8 per cent between 2017 and 2018, a higher rate than the North Vancouver municipalities. It said that, already, transit moves one-third of all passengers on Marine Drive using only four per cent of the vehicles on that road.
Under the plan, 15 to 30 existing parking spots on Marine Drive out of 766 on Marine Drive will be lost, according to TransLink.
West Vancouver council is expected to deliberate the lane changes into the spring.
Listen to the full interview with Stephanie Jones and Geoff Cross:
With files from Meera Bains and CBC Radio One's On The Coast