Clark students may soon be finding a few more parking spots while waiting less time to get around town.
The acting administrator for the Federal Transit Administration, Therese McMillan, and C-Tran Executive Director Jeff Hamm met at Clark College Sept. 10 to sign a $38.5 million grant to help fund an overhaul of a major route of the C-Tran bus system.
The project, titled The Vine, will run along the Fourth Plain Boulevard and Fort Vancouver Way corridors between downtown Vancouver and Westfield Vancouver Mall, which are the most heavily trafficked C-Tran routes. The Vine could save commuters up to 10 minutes each way on their commute according to The Vine’s project website.
The new buses will be able to hold almost twice as many people as existing buses and will run on 10-minute frequencies during peak hours. The project will cost less to operate than the current bus system, according to C-Tran.
The $38.5 million grant is part of a $53 million total needed to fund the project. Eighty percent is federally funded, 6 percent is state funded, and 14 percent is locally funded, according to The Vine’s project website.
“This day has been a long time coming,” said Vancouver Mayor Tim Leavitt. “Some might say, including me, too long.”
Two Vine stations will be built along Fort Vancouver Way, one across from O’Connell Sports Center, and one across from Gaiser Hall. “This is going to be a very visible thing for students,” said Sarah Gruhler, Director of Student Life.
“This is a win-win for the community, a win-win for Clark College,” said Clark President Bob Knight. Knight said he hopes the new bus system will help alleviate parking issues and provide easier access to school for students with financial difficulties.
“We are hopeful that more students, faculty and staff will take advantage of bus rapid transit when it becomes available, and we expect this will help ease the demand for parking on the main campus,” said Bob Williamson, vice president of Administrative Services.
Students will be able to pick up a bus pass in the bookstore for $7. Gruhler said 1,800 passes are currently available. Clark sells about 1,600 C-Tran passes per quarter, according to Williamson.
“We might actually run out of passes,” Gruhler said. “This is a program that students highly utilize.”
The $7 cost that students will pay is subsidized by Services & Activities fees. ASCC is planning to spend $80,600 on bus passes for the 2015-2016 school year, according to the ASCC budget.
The Vine stations started construction in late summer and are scheduled to be completed in late 2016, according to The Vine’s project website.