Transit daytripping: to the valley and back
Posted: 7 June 2010 Filed under: Transit | Tags: daytrip, translink, valleymax, west coast express
Did you know you can take public transit to the central Fraser Valley (Mission and Abbotsford) from Vancouver? Sure, West Coast Express has been around for almost 15 years in providing commuter-rail service to Mission, but there is also a south-of-Fraser option that’s been around since only 2007 [TransLink press release].
At the moment, Valleymax’ 21 Aldergrove Connector is a better alternative for anyone in the TransLink system to travel to the central Valley, simply because it has a number of trips spread out throughout the day (seven on weekdays, four on Saturdays). WCE, including additional TrainBus service, is still quite peak-directional, even on weekends (westbound to Vancouver in AM, eastbound to Mission in PM).
Ticket to ride... to Mission.
What I attempted last Friday was WCE train #1 all the way to Mission. While I have taken WCE before, I couldn’t go the distance because I wasn’t able to make my way back once the train terminated in Mission. Getting back on the rails, a mere two weeks after returning to Vancouver on the Amtrak Cascades, makes me wish I could do this more often.
At the Mission terminus, I transferred to the 31 Valley Connector, the only bus route linking Mission and Abbotsford. I then connected with route 21, which ends in Aldergrove, at the same block as the origin of the TransLink 502 going back to Langley Centre and Surrey Central Station, and ultimately, home.
Regional terminus at Aldergrove. TransLink bus to Surrey in foreground; Valleymax bus to Abbotsford in background
I discovered that the itinerary I took is the only possible way to do a Valley circuit using a WCE train (it’s possible to take one of the early-afternoon TrainBuses, but that’s not as fun as the train). Even then, I got a little worried when a connecting bus was 10 minutes late! While I did catch both buses I needed to get back to Aldergrove, you might not be so lucky. So my advice is to be prepared (ie. taxi fare), just in case you’re stranded.
While I understand there might not be a lot of demand for such inter-regional services (apart from WCE), I would love to see more of them, if only to introduce them as a test. Express buses from Abbotsford to SkyTrain; connections between the central Valley and Chilliwack systems, or between TransLink and Squamish or Whistler: some or all of these shouldn’t be too hard to implement, but it also requires political will and capital. One can still hope though…