Citizen committee to finalize bus rapid transit recommendation

By Eric Florip, Columbian transportation & environment reporter

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A citizen committee on Wednesday is expected to pick its preferred option for a proposed bus rapid transit line on Vancouver’s crowded Fourth Plain corridor.

Since early last year, C-Tran has explored the enhanced bus system as a way to move passengers more quickly and reliably along what’s now its busiest route. BRT works by using larger vehicles, raised boarding platforms, specialized signals and other features to improve transit times. C-Tran has proposed implementing the system along Fourth Plain Boulevard and Fort Vancouver Way near Clark College.

The plan has already narrowed considerably since C-Tran first floated the idea. The Corridor Advisory Committee now shaping it has said it’s not interested in putting dedicated bus-only lanes on Fourth Plain or Fort Vancouver Way, fearing the impact to businesses and vehicle traffic. More recently, committee members have debated whether to put boarding stations along the right traffic lane, curbside, or the left lane — with stations in the median.

The group so far has indicated it may favor a mix of both, depending on location. Also unresolved is how far east to extend BRT. The system would run at least from downtown to the Westfield Vancouver mall, and possibly as far east as Northeast 162nd Avenue.

The project could cost anywhere from $35 million to $65 million, depending on which plan is chosen. About 80 percent of that cost could be covered by federal funds, according to C-Tran.

The Corridor Advisory Committee’s decision stands as a recommendation only. The C-Tran Board of Directors has final say on whether to move ahead with BRT. The agency is also carrying forward a no-build option, essentially leaving Fourth Plain as is.

Wednesday’s committee meeting begins at 4 p.m. in C-Tran’s administrative office, 2425 N.E. 65th Ave. in Vancouver.