At the beginning of September, TransLink launched the 96 B-Line – a new express bus route linking Guildford with Newton, with stops at major SkyTrain stations and along the King George Boulevard.
However, residents of a quiet Guildford neighbourhood are unhappy with the increased traffic and noise along a six-block turn-around route used by the bus line.
As of Sept. 2, once the 96 B-Line drops the last of its eastbound passengers at Guildford Town Centre, the bus heads east down 104 Avenue, turns left on 154 Street, left again on 105 Avenue, left on 152 Street, and then back onto 104 Avenue heading westbound.
For the residents living along 105 Avenue, the bus traffic has become unbearable.
Beginning at 5:30 a.m. every day, the long articulated buses travel along the street every seven minutes until 1 a.m.
“I can’t sit out on my patio anymore,” said resident Bob Guenther, a retired truck driver who worries about falling property values. “We’re all up in arms. This isn’t a truck route, but they have decided to use our street as a turn-around.”
According to Guenther, the residents have proposed numerous alternate routes through more commercial neighbourhoods, but those suggestions have fallen on deaf ears.
TransLink spokesperson Derek Zabel said the current route was chosen due to road designation, safety, and timing. “We have heard from residents and we are planning to field test different routes, but so far we haven’t identified any better options,” Zabel said.
Currently, the buses use collector roads identified by the City of Surrey, he said, and the length of the buses (18 metres) also makes routing difficult.
“We are looking at other options but so far, this is the safest way for buses to reroute back to Guildford,” Zabel said.
Paul Lee, transportation division manager for the City of Surrey, sympathizes with the residents. After hearing from numerous homeowners in the area, Lee spent an afternoon walking the turn-around route.
“The concerns of the residents are legit,” said Lee. “It’s not convincing Coast Mountain or TransLink there’s a problem. Everyone knows there’s a problem. It’s a matter of finding a solution.”
For Lee, the most logical route would be to re-route the buses north on 152 Street and then south through the Guildford Town Centre parking lot and back onto 104 Avenue. However, that would require the approval of the mall’s ownership since the parking lot is private property.
Lee has an upcoming meeting with all the stakeholders involved today (Thursday) to attempt to find a reasonable resolution.
“In the end, we can’t make (TransLink) do things. It’s not like they need to come to us for approval,” said Lee. “We understand there are multiple levels of bureaucracy involved, but we want a win-win.”