ADMINISTRATIVE REPORT Date: June 10, 1997 Dept. File No. CC File No.: 5551 TO: Standing Committee on Transportation and Traffic FROM: General Manager of Engineering Services SUBJECT: Transit Service to Fraser Lands, Riverside and Champlain Heights South RECOMMENDATION A. THAT Council approve the extension of the #29 Elliott route to Champlain Mall via Fraserview Drive to Victoria Drive, Marine Drive and through Champlain Heights as shown in Appendix B. B. THAT staff report back on new bus stops, shelters, litter containers, necessary to implement the route. COUNCIL POLICY Council has approved a Transportation Plan which recognizes that Transit and not the automobile will have to accommodate future increases in travel demand. PURPOSE The purpose of this report is to recommend a transit option that meets the needs of the residents of Fraser Lands, Riverside and Champlain Heights South. BACKGROUND The residents of Riverside, Fraser Lands and the southern portions of Champlain Heights do not have direct transit connections to the north and therefore are reliant on the automobile for most, if not all, of the trips made from their neighbourhoods. These neighbourhoods are the last areas of higher density residential in the City without acceptable transit. The estimated population affected is about 5900 residents(1996 census) including a number of non-market housing complexes and co-ops. The development of the transit network in the South East corner of Vancouver followed, for a time, the development of the Champlain Heights community. Since the early 1980's, several transit options have been proposed to serve emerging developments in Riverside (south side of Marine Drive between Victoria Drive and Elliott Street), Fraser Lands (south side of Marine Drive east of Riverside to Boundary Road) and the southern portion of Champlain Heights. However, none has been approved that meets the needs of the residents. In the end, Council did approve the option shown in Appendix A, but this is not effective. A summary of the history of the various proposed options is contained in Appendix E. The Vancouver Regional Transit Commission has not approved the proposal in Appendix A. The route is very circuitous for residents in Riverside who wish to reach destinations to the north. As well, the route would not serve certain schools, including David Oppenheimer, the local elementary school, Champlain Mall, the Champlain Heights Community Centre and Killarney. In February 1996 Council reviewed BC Transit's Annual Service Plan for the coming year. The principal of the David Oppenheimer Elementary School appeared at committee expressing a need for improved transit connections. As a result, Council passed a motion expressing concern to BC Transit that service to Fraser Lands was not yet implemented. Further, Council directed staff to re-poll the residents of Fraserview Drive regarding the possibility of linking the #29 and #26 bus routes. This poll was taken and the results were very conclusive. There were 65 survey forms sent out and 59 returned. Of these 59 returned, 54 or 93% were opposed to the use of Fraserview Drive by transit. In November 1996 a meeting was organized by the Fraser Lands residents to discuss the lack of transit and other basic amenities shops, school, community services) in their community. Approximately 100 residents attended and the need for a transit connection to the north to access schools, services, community centres, other transit, and shopping was confirmed. The Fraser Lands Riverside Residents' Association subsequently appeared as a delegation to the Vancouver Regional Transit Commission in January 97 reiterating their concern with the lack of transit service to their neighbourhood. Transit staff reported back in February on this and the VRTC subsequently directed staff "to develop a detailed service plan for revised services to South Vancouver and forward the proposal to the City of Vancouver for approvals and that staff include this service plan in a future quarterly service plan for implementation". Following this recommendation, BC Transit staff, in consultation with City staff, have reviewed a number of route options that address the needs identified by the residents of Fraser Lands and Riverside. These options have been reviewed by a committee of residents from these communities who have recommended an option for Council to consider. DISCUSSION OF OPTIONS Previous route proposals were reviewed by staff and a number of new options developed. The two options that best serve the needs of the neighbourhoods are shown in Appendices (Options) B and C. Options B and C operate along Marine Drive in both directions. Option B (Appendix B) This option is an extension of the #29 Elliott route which starts and finishes at the 29th Avenue SkyTrain Station and operates via Elliott, Muirfield, Fraserview Drive, Victoria Drive, Marine Drive and through Champlain Heights to Champlain Mall. The buses return to 29th Avenue Station via Champlain Heights, Marine Drive, Victoria, Fraserview Drive and Elliott. Direct service is provided to David Oppenheimer School (on Muirfield Drive), the Champlain Mall and Champlain Heights Community Centre, SkyTrain, buses on 49th Ave., 41st Ave, Kingsway and Victoria Drive. Only one bus added to the route is necessary to provide an initial 30 minute service to the Marine Drive area. Two buses added to the route are necessary to provide a 15 minute service. Option C (Appendix C) This option also starts and finishes at 29th Avenue Station but operates as a large loop via Elliott, Muirfield, Fraserview Drive, Victoria, Marine, Champlain Heights, Kerr/Rupert, Kingsway, and Earles. The service would operate in both directions, ie, clockwise and counterclockwise. This option combines the #29 Elliott route with the western half of the existing #26 Champlain Heights route (See Appendix D for the existing #26 Route). The eastern half of the #26 route which starts at Joyce Station would turn around using streets in the vicinity of Champlain Mall and return to Joyce Station. As in Option B, direct service is provided to David Oppenheimer School, Champlain Mall and Champlain Heights Community Centre, SkyTrain and various bus routes. Overall, 3 additional buses are necessary to achieve a 15 minute service. BC Transit supports Option B as it achieves the necessary connections to other transit routes, SkyTrain, the schools and other facilities and services to the north. It also requires only one additional bus for a proposed, initial service of every 30 minutes. As well, it does not impact the existing #26 route and therefore minimizes the disruption to other transit users. In summary, both Options B and C achieve the necessary connections to other transit routes and serves the schools and other facilities north of Marine Drive. Option C is somewhat better for the residents south of Marine Drive than Option B because the looped service provides more choices in how to reach destinations. For example, a resident returning home from 29th Avenue Station could return home via Elliott or Rupert/Kerr depending on when the first bus was leaving. On the other hand, Option C does impact other transit users because it requires "breaking" the existing #26 route. Finally, Option C requires two more buses than Option B. This is a concern to BC Transit as they did not budget for providing service to SE Vancouver this year. The residents' committee, in reviewing the two options, supports Option B, noting that it provides direct transit service to most of the destinations they wish to reach. Direct service is provided to David Oppenheimer School, the Champlain Mall and Champlain Heights Community Centre, SkyTrain, buses on 49th, 41st, Kingsway and Victoria Drive. The residents are also sensitive to existing transit travel patterns and do not wish to disrupt other residents normal travel habits. Use of North and South Kent Avenues North and South Kent Avenues are narrow streets (27 feet/ 8.3m) with parking. Operating between the two streets is the CP Railway. The Kent Avenues are also discontinuous at various places. North and South Kent Avenues are desirable streets to route buses as residents would not then have to use Marine Drive. A number of options exist and involve the use of North and/or South Kent between Kerr and Jellicoe (in Fraser Lands) and even as far as Victoria Drive (Riverside). The present width of both Kent Avenues, coupled with street parking and the rail line between the two streets, makes it very awkward for BC Transit to operate conventional 40 foot buses on these streets and to stop at, and cross, the rail tracks in a conventional manner. However, the City and BC Transit, in consultation with the residents, will undertake a review of what street changes would have to be made to accommodate conventional buses. The use of Kent Ave remains a future option. The use of small buses was considered but is not an option, especially if service is to start this year. BC Transit is not expanding the small bus program at this time. Further, transit demand will be high enough to warrant large buses. Public Process The Fraser Lands Riverside Residents' Association has been involved in the review leading to a preferred option. The residents of Fraserview Drive were polled in 1996 and the poll clearly indicates they are not in favour of buses on Fraserview Drive between Victoria Drive and Nanaimo Street. Muirfield Drive, the easterly extension of Fraserview Drive, is the same pavement width and has the same land use as Fraserview Drive, and has successfully accommodated transit for decades. The west side of Champlain Crescent between 54th Avenue and Maquinna would be used by buses operating in the southbound direction only in either option. This is not presently a bus route. The west side of the street is undeveloped green space. The east side of the street is town house development set back and oriented away from the street. We have not contacted these residents as the impact of the buses would be minimal. CONCLUSION Fraser Lands, Riverside and the southern portion of Champlain Heights lack transit connections to the north to other transit services and many of the community services lacking in their neighbourhoods. As a result, these neighbourhoods are largely auto dependant. Many transit options have been considered over the years to serve these residential areas, including the use of small buses. All options that serve the needs of the residents inevitably have to use Fraserview Drive as one of the connecting roads buses must use. A transit route option acceptable to the neighbourhoods south of Marine Drive and BC Transit has been forwarded to the City for approval. This option, shown in Appendix B, requires the use of Fraserview Drive between Victoria Drive and Nanaimo Street. The residents along Fraserview Drive continue to oppose the use of this street by transit. Staff recommends Council approve the route shown in Appendix B, so that the residents of Fraser Lands, Riverside, and Champlain Heights South will have transit access to the various community services to the north, other transit routes and SkyTrain. * * * * * APPENDIX E Page 1 of 2 SUMMARY OF THE DEVELOPMENT OF TRANSIT Before 1980 Champlain Heights is under development and transit service is extended from the Kingsway area as development ocurrs. 1981 Council approves an extension of transit service to a proposed transit loop at Marine and Matheson Crescent with an "interim" routing planned to Matheson Crescent and Champlain Heights Crescent until such time as the loop is constructed. 1985 The Riverside area south of Marine Drive in the vicinity of Victoria Drive and Elliott street is under development and an extension of the #29 Elliott service via Fraserview Drive and Elliott Street is proposed. Council defeats the proposal but recognizes that as Riverside is in the early stages of development, this proposal should be reviewed again. 1988 Transit is prepared to commit funds to the construction of a transit loop at Marine Drive and Matheson Crescent. A rezoning of the land set aside for the loop is required. However, Council refuses the rezoning on the basis of residential concerns. 1989 Council revisits the matter of an off-street transit loop and recommends staff discuss alternatives to an off-street bus loop with the community. 1991 Council reviews a "looped" route option (similar to Option C in this report) and requests BC Transit hold an open house to solicit input on the option. Overall, attendees of the open house support the proposal. At the May 30, 1991 Traffic Commission meeting, the Commission reviewed a staff report recommending implementing the looped service. The Commission, noting the concerns of the residents, directed staff to explore with BC Transit, three other route options raised at the Traffic Commission meeting. The Commission recommended that Fraserview Drive be deleted from further consideration. 1991 In December 1991, the Traffic Commission reviews the three options discussed at the May meeting of the Commission and recommend the route option shown in Appendix A of this report. 1992 In August 1992, the Vancouver Regional Transit Commission does not support the City s proposed option (Appendix A) and requests staff review other route options. 1993 BC Transit staff, in consultation with City staff and the Fraser Lands Development consultant review a number of small bus options and a conventional bus option. Council reaffirms its previous approval of the route shown in Appendix A. 1996 Council reviews a report on the 1996/1997 Annual Transit Service Plan and expresses its concern that transit service to Fraser Lands has not yet been implemented and that this service be initiated quickly. Further, Council directed staff to re-poll the Fraserview Drive residents regarding the possibility of linking the Elliott and Champlain Heights bus services.