White Rock councillor critical of proposed bus route changes

David Chesney fears local passengers could be left without a ride if service changes are adopted

White Rock and South Surrey bus riders won’t know – until at least the end of summer – when proposed changes to TransLink routes on the Peninsula will come into effect.

Meanwhile, White Rock Coun. David Chesney has been warning city residents that the changes under consideration could have a dire impact on local riders.

The TransLink proposal, first discussed publicly on the Peninsula at a consultation and information event held at White Rock Community Centre April 10, would make significant changes to the existing 351 and 352 routes, while adding a new local shuttle, designated 350.

Under the proposed changes, the 351 would now start and end its route in White Rock Centre rather than carrying on through Ocean Park and Crescent Beach; while the 352 – which runs at peak times only – would eliminate its current 144 Street to 148 Street section, travelling directly to and from White Rock Centre along 16 Avenue (North Bluff Road).

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TransLink spokesperson Ben Murphy said implementation of the changes will depend on analysis of the recent 2019 Transit Network review survey.

“(We) will be publishing a report outlining our recommendations later in the summer,” he said.

“Based on the survey results and our analysis of ridership data, we will recommend how to proceed with the proposed changes.”

According to Murphy, the new 350 shuttle is intended to compensate for the changes to the 351 by offering connection between White Rock Centre, Ocean Park and Crescent Beach.

But Chesney said he is not impressed by the plan, which he predicted will be “a real inconvenience to local commuters.”

“I don’t know what TransLink is thinking,” he said. “I don’t know how they’re going to move all of these people. It makes no sense at all – we don’t have a hub in White Rock and I don’t know where they’re going to dump all these people.”

He is also skeptical that a 350 shuttle bus schedule would match up – in practice – with the arrivals and departures of the 351 service to Bridgeport Station.

“The last shuttle bus for Ocean Park and Crescent Beach would leave at 9 p.m.,” Chesney said. “What happens when the last bus carrying people from downtown Vancouver gets back to White Rock at 9:15 p.m.? What are these people going to do – phone someone for a ride? Call a cab or go for a long walk?”

Murphy said TransLink is confident that a new 350 shuttle would co-ordinate with the planned changes.

“The proposed 350 would operate with service that starts and finishes at the same times as the current 351 trips that serve that stretch of the route,” he said.

“The last 350 bus to Crescent Beach will run on a similar schedule as the current 351 trips to Crescent Beach.

“The last 350 bus would depart White Rock Centre after the last 351 bus arrives there to ensure customers can reach their final destination.”

Chesney is also critical about how TransLink is getting the message to local residents about impending changes.

The April 10 information meeting was sparsely attended, he said, because “TransLink did a poor job of publicizing the event.”

But Murphy said Peninsula customers and stakeholders were targeted with social media and digital advertising for the event, as well as newspaper advertisements, flyers distributed to 351 and 352 riders at Bridgeport Station, signage at bus stops and emails to local organizations including the Crescent Beach, Semiahmoo, and Crescent Road Corridor residents associations.

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