C-Tran board to consider bus rapid transit contract tonight

Awarding of contract would carry project through development phase

By Eric Florip, Columbian transportation & environment reporter

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The C-Tran Board of Directors tonight will consider awarding a contract of up to $2.25 million advancing a proposed bus rapid transit line on Vancouver's Fourth Plain corridor.

Awarding the contract to consulting firm Parsons Brinckerhoff would carry the enhanced bus system through the project development phase. C-Tran hopes to apply for a Federal Transit Administration grant to help build the $49 million system, and faces a September deadline as part of that process. Failure to act on the contract this month could set the project back by at least a year, according to a C-Tran staff report.

The project continues to move forward despite having no clear funding source to cover C-Tran's local share of about $6 million. Last year, voters soundly rejected a sales tax increase that would have covered that share, in addition to the local operating cost of light rail planned as part of the Columbia River Crossing bridge replacement project. When the C-Tran board last discussed bus rapid transit in March, some members expressed reservations about advancing the project without support from voters.

Some bus rapid transit supporters have called for C-Tran to use its existing funds to pay the local share of the project. C-Tran holds about $10 million in uncommitted capital reserves.

Bus rapid transit uses larger vehicles, raised boarding platforms, specialized signals and other features in an effort to move passengers more efficiently and reliably. C-Tran has proposed putting a line between downtown and the Westfield Vancouver mall.

The board meeting begins tonight at 5:30 p.m. in the Vancouver Community Library, 901 C St. An earlier board composition review meeting begins at 5 p.m.