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SULLIVAN: The North Shore B-Line is like bringing a Magic Marker to a gun fight

One day, the powers who be at TransLink looked at the long, clotted lines of traffic stalled on the only two bridges that cross Burrard Inlet, the only access to the North Shore, the Horseshoe Bay ferry, Squamish, Whistler, etc.

One day, the powers who be at TransLink looked at the long, clotted lines of traffic stalled on the only two bridges that cross Burrard Inlet, the only access to the North Shore, the Horseshoe Bay ferry, Squamish, Whistler, etc.

They heard the wailing and the gnashing of teeth as people were late for jobs, school, doctors’ appointments, emergencies and lunch.

They decided this couldn’t go on, and they did something about it. They sent a B-Line bus to Dundarave.

That’s the equivalent of bringing a magic marker to a gun fight, but it’s even more breathtakingly inappropriate than that. It’s both underkill and overkill.

Underkill because it does nothing to solve the actual problem – the bridge bottlenecks – and overkill for Dundarave, the quaint, pricey gateway to the Eagle Harbour Marina and the scenic route to the Gleneagles golf course.

As some opponents of the idea have pointed out, by the time it gets to 24th Street in Dundarave (every eight minutes during peak hours) the only occupant of the big ugly noisy bus will be the driver.

Speaking of opponents, West Vancouver council has been overwhelmed with feedback from incensed residents who are astonished that council originally approved the four West Vancouver stops along the way to Dundarave. Mayor and council have received more than 160 emails and people have taken to the streets carrying rude signs ridiculing the scheme.

In civilized West Vancouver, that’s tantamount to revolution. At least the signs are grammatically correct.

Meanwhile, over on the North Van side of the route, crickets. The North Van route starts at Phibbs Exchange (that transit wasteland down on Main Street near the entrance to the Ironworkers Memorial Second Narrows Crossing), travels along Marine Drive and stops at Park Royal.

Which is fine with the West Van B-Line opponents. Just keep it out of West Van.

But any potential North Vancouver opposition has yet to coalesce, and it may well be that, all things considered, North Vancouverites approve. Although I now have this feeling I’m going to hear from those who don’t.

Rush-hour traffic along the North Vancouver section of the route has grown alarmingly, especially close to the bridge bottlenecks, and it’s possible that the express bus will benefit both local riders and commuters over town. That’s if dedicating one lane to the buses doesn’t make the whole thing worse.

But of course that won’t happen. When has Translink ever done anything to make things worse?

As for the quality of life along the North Van side of Marine Drive, there isn’t any, so that shouldn’t be a problem. Ambleside and Dundarave have their sunny, laid-back sidewalk cafes to preserve; North Van has Destination Chrysler. No slight intended.

To be fair, there has been an attempt to humanize Marine Drive through North Vancouver with increased residential density, but saving this vital artery for anything other than the flow of traffic between bottlenecks will require a much grander effort than anything tried to date.

So now West Van council is looking for an avenue of retreat, preferably one without a bus stop. Council is scheduled to consider the results of the “consultation” round that ended Feb. 28, although most of it will be in the “Consider This!” vein. Council is supposed to consider the feedback in April, although at that point, the game may have changed. Coun. Peter Lambur has filed a motion to consider a different route ending at Park Royal. Now that’s what we need at Park Royal … a massive, complicated bus exchange!

West Van is a lovely place to visit, even if only a lucky few can afford to live there. We should all join the effort to help preserve its Shangri La-like state. The B-Line bus is a rude intruder with GHGs and muddy boots. There are no B-Line buses in Shangri-La.

Really, adding buses is like the proverbial new SeaBus. Translink keeps pretending to offer another SeaBus as if it’s a solution to something, when the real solution requires courage and money, both rare commodities.

Seriously, we need a) to add more than the existing nine lanes connecting the North Shore and the rest of the lower mainland or b) a third bridge.

We do not need a B-Line to 24th Street and Marine Drive. Look harder, TransLink.

Journalist and communications consultant Paul Sullivan has been a North Vancouver resident since the fall of the Berlin Wall and the rise of Madonna.

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