Lucky Clark students may find up to ten minutes shaved off their commute by the end of the year by riding C-Tran’s upcoming bus system.
Under construction since last summer, the Vine is the first bus rapid transit system in the region and is slated for completion by the end of 2016. The new system will run from downtown to the Vancouver Mall along the Fourth Plain corridor, replacing bus routes four and 44, according to the project website.
C-Tran’s buses along routes four and 44 run chronically late, with 30 to 40 percent of buses arriving at least five minutes behind.
Student and C-Tran commuter Oswald Torres said buses occasionally arrive as much as 15 minutes late on route four, dampening a transit experience that he would otherwise describe as good.
C-Tran expects the Vine to reduce transit time between the Vancouver Mall and downtown by 10 minutes.
“Everything is time-based in Bus Rapid Transit,” said Christine Selk, communications and public affairs manager at C-Tran. BRT systems are designed with a traffic-signal priority system and leveled boarding stations to make transit faster than on normal bus routes.
Selk said the Vine will feature 10 new buses purchased from New Flyer, which will have nearly twice the capacity of existing buses.
The project will cost a total of $53 million to construct, with $38.5 million coming from a Federal Transit Authority grant and the rest from local and state funds. “This is, by far, the largest capital development project in C-Tran’s history,” Selk said.
Two stations are being constructed along Fort Vancouver Way, one in front of Frost Arts Center and one in front of Gaiser Hall. Selk said construction on these stations will begin July 1, while Clark is on break.
“For periods of time, it’s going to mean closure of one or more lanes along Fort Vancouver Way,” said Bob Williamson, Clark’s vice president of Administrative Services. Sidewalks near the construction will also be closed.
Despite the lane closures, Williamson said the benefits will far outweigh the temporary inconvenience. In conjunction with the Vine, the city government will be renovating Fort Vancouver Way with widened sidewalks, new bike lanes and full traffic signals outside the green and red parking lots to improve safety.
C-Tran has been cooperating with the Clark administration throughout the project. “We feel that they’ve made good choices,” Williamson said.
Clark’s strong relationship with C-Tran is evidenced by Clark’s ASCC-subsidized bus pass program, which Williamson said sells an average of 1,400 to 1,500 bus passes per quarter at $7 each.