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New transit-only signal aims to boost bus efficiency in downtown New West

Motorists will make adjustments as New Westminster activates new traffic plan to improve bus speed and reliability
Traffic changes are coming to 10th and Columbia streets.

Traffic changes are coming to downtown New West in an effort to improve the speed and reliability of buses.

The City of New Westminster has announced that a new transit-only signal will take effect at the intersection of Columbia and 10th street starting on Thursday, Dec. 7. The signal will restrict eastbound left-turn movements to transit vehicles only. (Currently, all eastbound vehicles on Columbia Street can turn left onto 10th Street.)

“This adjustment is being made to address bus service reliability issues identified by TransLink,” said Mike Anderson, the city’s transportation manager. “This input was provided during engagement with the public and stakeholders during development of the city’s Downtown Transportation Plan.”

Anderson said the installation of bus detection and changes to traffic operation at this intersection were recommended in the plan.

“Through various policies and plans, the city has confirmed the importance of transit as a sustainable transportation choice, and committed to prioritizing transit travel by improving the speed and reliability of buses on our roads in various ways,” he said.

“As noted in the city’s Downtown Transportation Plan, the City of New Westminster is following through on this commitment by implementing a transit-only signal and movement at the Columbia Street and 10th Street intersection. This transit signal will restrict eastbound left-turn movements to transit vehicles only. Drivers can continue to access downtown destinations via Royal Avenue and Eighth Street.”

According to a notice from the city, this is a permanent traffic pattern change that was identified in the city’s Downtown Transportation Plan as a way to improve the speed and reliability of buses within the city. 

New Westminster’s 2017 Downtown Transportation Plan outlined several corridors where transit-priority measures were being explored due to bus speed and reliability issues: Carnarvon Street (Eighth Street to 10th Street); Eighth Street (Carnarvon Street to Columbia Street);  Columbia Street (Eighth Street to Fourth Street); and Sixth Street (Columbia Street to Royal Avenue).

City staff are working on strategies that could recommend future changes to improve transit services in the city.

 “The city is currently working on a city-wide bus speed and reliability strategy, which will identify where in New Westminster buses and passengers are routinely delayed,” Anderson said. “The strategy will propose infrastructure and operational changes to address these challenges, with a plan for implementation over a number of years. We expect the strategy to be complete in early 2024.”