Phil Melnychuk/THE NEWS                                Maple Ridge Coun. Ahmed Yousef wants to start the conversation, what about commuter service along the Fraser River.

Phil Melnychuk/THE NEWS Maple Ridge Coun. Ahmed Yousef wants to start the conversation, what about commuter service along the Fraser River.

Fraser River sea bus proposed to hook into TransLink system

Maple Ridge councillor just wants to start discussion

Ahmed Yousef knows it’s a long-term dream that may be decades away.

But the Maple Ridge councillor has started the conversation about a Fraser River seabus service that would run from Port Haney wharf, in Maple Ridge, and connect to the TransLink network at various points down river, in Coquitlam, Surrey or New Westminster.

“I do believe sincerely, that this would be a great addition to our already existing TransLink network,” he said Wednesday. In addition to getting cars off the road, a commuter trip along the Fraser River would offer great scenery, he adds.

Yousef first raised the idea at a TransLink elected officials forum last May. Now he wants to collect a region-wide petition to demonstrate support for the idea in order to get it into TransLink’s Transport 2050, the 30-year strategy that will plot out transportation over the next three decades.

Yousef said other cities use their rivers as transportation systems while the Fraser is used to move logs and goods. “It makes sense that we’re massively under utilizing this highway that we have.”

He adds though that he’s not talking about resurrecting the Albion car ferry which used to connect Maple Ridge to Fort Langley. That service was shut down in 2009 when the Golden Ears Bridge opened.

“I’m not talking about re-establishing the Albion ferry. I’m talking about a completely different service.”

Instead, developing a passenger ferry, or sea bus, along the river connecting SkyTrain or bus routes would provide another option in an area where congestion is constant and growing.

“My goal is to take as many vehicles off the road as possible,” he said.

Yousef acknowledges, much remains to be determined, from the type of ferries that will be used, to their frequency and where they would stop, although any stops would have to connect to transit of some kind.

But he welcomes the debate from supporters and nay sayers, in order to further the conversation.

He’s looking for volunteers for the petition. His idea has drawn more support than he thought, with three Vancouver media outlets covering the issue.

While he hasn’t raised the concept at Maple Ridge council yet, “I’m pleasantly surprised at the amount of support that I’ve been receiving for this concept, this idea,” although he realizes it’s a long-term project.



pmelnychuk@mapleridgenews.com

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