TransLink is launching a new B-Line express bus route in Surrey connecting Newton to Guildford with stops at major SkyTrain stations in the City Centre area.
The 96 B-Line limited stop service rolls out Sept. 2 on King George Boulevard and 104 Avenue, with buses running every seven to eight minutes from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m.
The longer 60-foot articulated buses are expected to take 13 minutes to reach King George Station from 72 Avenue in Newton and 22 minutes to make the full run to Guildford exchange.
“It’s going to be quick, fast bus service and it should help get people out of their cars and onto the transit system,” TransLink spokesman Derek Zabel said.
“It’s been a long time coming for Surrey residents who have been asking for this type of service.”
Zabel said the route will serve significant ridership going between Newton and Guildford, as well as passengers heading to and from SkyTrain.
B-Line buses also tend to act as a precursor to full-on rapid transit, helping build ridership on routes slated for eventual train service.
The same King George and 104 Avenue corridors are being studied by TransLink for some future configuration of rapid transit – potentially SkyTrain or light rail.
Zabel noted a former B-Line bus route in Richmond eventually became the Canada Line and one that runs from Lougheed Station to Coquitlam Centre will be replaced by the Evergreen Line when that SkyTrain extension is finished.
“This is a very important step for this rapid transit corridor,” he said.
The new King George B-Line was identified as a high priority by TransLink and approved in its 2013 base plan.
There will be just eight stops between Newton and Guildford – on King George at 76th, 88th and 96th avenues; at King George Station and Surrey Central Station; and then at Whalley Boulevard, 144 Street and 148 Street heading east along 104 Avenue.
The new run comes with some trade-off in other service.
Zabel said there will be some reduction in frequency north of Newton on #321 buses that go from White Rock to Surrey Central, as well as on the #320 buses that run along 104 Avenue between Guildford and Surrey Central.
But he predicts passengers heading north to SkyTrain from White Rock/South Surrey will experience less crowding on their buses once the extra B-Line service kicks in on King George.
“It will definitely help to address some of the pass-up situations and crowded conditions you sometimes have on the #321.”
He said there may be a period of adjustment in store for some passengers used to all buses making every stop along King George and 104th.
The changes take 16,000 annual service hours from the #321 route and close to 10,000 hours from the #320, but Zabel said the net increase in Surrey service on those corridors is 36,600 after the addition of 62,500 hours for the new B-Line.
The King George B-Line was originally to run all the way to White Rock, but the leg south of Newton was shelved due to TransLink budget constraints.
“Extending that all the way into White Rock is something we will look at in the future, funding provided.”