Those who have driven down Mill Plain Boulevard recently have likely seen the construction signs, orange cones and new steel bus stations as C-Tran constructs its second bus rapid transit line, The Vine.
The $50 million project is scheduled to be up and running in fall 2023 — 3½ years after the first BRT line opened on Fourth Plain. It will include 37 stops, all with raised platforms and ticket vending machines, eight new 60-foot buses and a new transit center at the east end of Mill Plain Boulevard.
“C-Tran is pleased to see the progress,” C-Tran CEO Shawn Donaghy said. “As construction continues into next year, C-Tran will continue to work with all of our partners, including local businesses adjacent to BRT stations, to minimize any construction-related impacts.”
The Vine on Mill Plain is currently being constructed under a phased build-out, meaning that only a few locations along the corridor are under construction at once.
What makes bus rapid transit rapid?
The Vine on Mill Plain will open with buses arriving every 15 minutes, but depending on how popular the service is, that wait between rides could shrink.
The raised platforms and more infrequent stops means The Vine on Mill Plain will be faster to transit than the current Route 37 on Mill Plain Boulevard, according to C-Tran’s Chief Capital Projects and Planning Officer Scott Patterson.
“When you’re having to deploy the ramps and load and unload passengers who require mobility devices, that can often take quite a bit of time, which could slow down and make the local service a little bit less reliable,” Patterson said.
“(When) you cut down that dwell time where the bus is sitting at a particular stop or station, it speeds the service along and just provides a much better level of service overall,” he added.
Who is affected?
Patterson said that, although some businesses will be affected, C-Tran met with many of the adjacent property owners to discuss the project.
Being able to point to The Vine on Fourth Plain as an example made conversations with affected individuals and businesses a lot more productive.
Patterson said the upfront work was needed to ensure better service to riders and limit impacts to businesses and other property owners along the route.
C-Tran is also laying roughly $4 million worth of fiber along the entire corridor to enhance communication between stations and ensure that travel times are more reliable. This will benefit local public partners, like first responders and the city of Vancouver, who will be able to use the lines.
Patterson said one of his most memorable moments with The Vine came when he struck up a conversation with someone waiting for the bus. The passenger had a laundry bag and said riding the bus had always been a means to an end for him.
“He said that now he is actually looking for reasons that he has to go somewhere, because to be able to go out on the corridor, and go to a shelter that had plenty of room to wait for the bus to know exactly when the next bus was coming,” Patterson said. “It was something that he looked forward to.”
The moment is particularly memorable to Patterson because it highlights the benefit that C-Tran provides for Clark County residents.
“It’s great to be able to see a project come to fruition that really makes the experience of traveling along the corridor better for so many people,” he said. “At the end of the day, that’s what it’s about. It’s about people and if you can do something to make their experience a little more enjoyable and reliable and efficient, then I think we’ve succeeded.”
This story was made possible by Community Funded Journalism, a project from The Columbian and the Local Media Foundation. Top donors include the Ed and Dollie Lynch Fund, Patricia, David and Jacob Nierenberg, Connie and Lee Kearney, Steve and Jan Oliva and the Mason E. Nolan Charitable Fund. The Columbian controls all content. For more information, visit columbian.com/cfj.