Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Dismay at Brentwood Bus Loop closure

Yesterday's closure of the Brentwood Bus Loop has garnered some criticism with some locals.

(Burnaby Now article)

Brentwood bus loop closure concerns locals
Stefania Seccia / Burnaby Now
December 17, 2013 10:27 AM

It's never easy when longtime habits suddenly shift, but a few locals are concerned what the Brentwood mall bus loop removal will bring during extreme weather conditions.
Dec. 16 was the day the bus loop at the future site of the 'Amazing Brentwood' mall redevelopment closed for good, but it left some locals wondering if that was the best way forward.
"It's going to be interesting," said Carrie McLaren. "My main concern with all of this is safety."
McLaren, a Burnaby resident and Green Party candidate, says she's concerned what icy conditions on the sidewalk and road will do for seniors and disabled patrons trying to access transit.
"It's a dangerous parking lot," McLaren noted. "There are a lot of accidents. There's not really a sidewalk, other than the bus loop sidewalk.
"I keep seeing all these people going around, all the shopping carts, strollers or walkers. The spring usually is fine, but this is winter. If it snows again, and we get some really bad weather, it's going to be an issue."
Helen Ward, also a Burnaby resident, has been vocal about her issues with the Brentwood mall redevelopment, which has led to the closing down of its bus loop.
"There's no danger today, but if it was slippery you'd have people ... physically challenged trying to access the area," she noted.
Ward said she's glad to see the ramp has not been removed or closed. But, the section of the ramp that connects to the bus loop will shut down at some point in the future.
Bus 25, 123, 130, 134 and 136 all moved to temporary street locations near Brentwood's SkyTrain station.
Shape Properties, the company that owns Brentwood mall, had its master concept plan for its redevelopment approved by council in September. Now, the first phase's rezoning application is nearing council's final approval. It's planned for the first 10 acres of the property that would connect it to the SkyTrain station at Willingdon Avenue and Lougheed Highway. Preliminary work has begun on the site in advance of the groundbreaking - including the bus loop's removal. TransLink leased the site where the loop was, but the lease expires at the end of December.
Burnaby Coun. Sav Dhaliwal had raised his concerns about removing the bus loop at several council meetings because he was worried about the various bus stops being chosen around the mall - in some cases too far away for seniors or those with mobility issues - and voted against the move.
"I recognize that during construction, there will be some changes and yes they were going to do the first phase, changing the fa├žade and getting ready ... does make a bit of inconvenience," he said. "It's a bad time right now to do it."
Dhaliwal said he's disappointed by TransLink's efforts and that the authority is out of touch with local concerns.
"We need a more comprehensive plan of a proper bus loop, shelter connecting with the station so people don't have to walk, it's important that it's a minimum," he said. "TransLink doesn't seem to be paying a whole lot of attention to people, they have their own priorities and issues. They don't know the local demands."
But TransLink says it's just doing what it was told to do.
According to Jeff Busby, senior manager of project development and network management at TransLink, the bus loop will most likely never return, as well.
"The buses are now operating on Willingdon and Lougheed Highway," he told the NOW. "Customers looking for buses will go to stops that are on the sidewalks."
The bus stops are temporary and will shift once again when the mall's first phase of redevelopment is done - three years from now, Busby said.
"The locations will shift slightly and they'll be improved from what they are today," he said. "The developer has helped us by providing really large shelters and really pleasant waiting areas on the sidewalk, dependent on when the redevelopment is done."
Busby also said TransLink has held up its end of the bargain by removing the loop from the site in time for the lease's end.
Darren Kwiatkowski, vice-president of development for Shape Properties, said Shape and TransLink have worked with customers extensively to make the right decision about the loop. He also said the sidewalks near the mall will be maintained.
"To help them (TransLink) is fantastic," he said about the future improved bus stops. "There'll be nice, new covered walkways, fully integrated stops and covered waiting areas."
Kwiatkowski said the bus stops moving closer to the SkyTrain is a better alternative to the bus loop, which TransLink suggested to take off site.
"Buses get closer to the SkyTrain and it's much more intuitive than walking to the bus loop," he said. "There's no ill intent on moving this thing.... TransLink, they suggested it and they designed it."
Brentwood mall's first phase plans include turning the mall's parking lot in front of the SkyTrain entrance into a central plaza to connect transit passengers, pedestrians and cyclists along Lougheed Highway and Willingdon Avenue, with commercial retail, restaurant services, and office uses on site.
© Copyright 2013

(24 Hours article)

Burnaby bus loop closure presents challenges

By Michael Mui, 24 Hours Vancouver
“Temporary” changes to bus stop locations at Brentwood exchange will mean the permanent loss of the transit loop adjacent to the Burnaby mall at the Halifax and Willingdon intersection, TransLink said.
Jeff Busby, TransLink senior manager of infrastructure and planning, said Monday — the first day of the loop’s closure — existing routes formerly served by the exchange would be spread to three areas around the neighbourhood in future.
Bus stops for routes such as the No. 25 UBC and the No. 123 New West Station have been moved south of Lougheed.
The No. 136 has been moved next to the SkyTrain station on the north side of Lougheed.
They are temporary locations for the next three years until the mall’s expansion finishes.
After that, new bus stops — looping around the nearby Alpha, Dawson, Rosser and Halifax streets and avenues — would be used instead.
The change is worrisome to some transit users such as Carrie McLaren who said seniors and the disabled would now have to use street-level crossings at the heavily-used Lougheed and Willingdon intersection to get to their stops.
Previously, those disembarking SkyTrain or leaving the mall wouldn’t have had to cross streets to board the routes.
“They didn’t tell us that they were going to do that, no notices or anything, until the week before they were doing it,” she said.
Busby said TransLink is aware of the crossing challenges and would be installing a new elevator on the south side of the Brentwood SkyTrain station. The only current elevator at the station is on the north side.
“If you’re transferring between buses there are some instances in which you would need to cross the street,” Busby said. “The city has made sure there’s crosswalks with adequate crossing time to make that happen.”
Twelve pedestrians were struck near the Willingdon and Lougheed intersection from 2008 and 2012, according to ICBC crash statistics, including four people hit near the existing bus loop.

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