Work is now beginning on a total overhaul of the North Shore’s second busiest transit hub.
Phibbs Exchange will be under construction for the next 20 months to be made a lot more modern and pleasant.
For the next 10 months, crews will be fashioning a temporary exchange to the west of the existing one, allowing all the regular bus routes to continue service without too much interruption, said Bowinn Ma, North Vancouver-Lonsdale NDP MLA and minister of state for infrastructure.
In September of next year, that temporary exchange should be online and crews will turn their attention to the new permanent Phibbs which will have 12 bus bays capable of accommodating Bus Rapid Transit, covered glass shelters, improved lighting, a comfort station for bus drivers to go to between runs, and a commercial/retail space that will likely become a coffee shop.
“There’ll be a much more welcoming transit exchange for travellers passing through there,” Ma said. “Currently, the exchange isn’t a particularly friendly commuting environment for people. It’s not well lit. The bus bays aren’t as well covered as they could be.”
While most transit riders who pass through Phibbs won’t notice a lot of disruption in their commute times, there will be significant parking impacts nearby. An informal park-and-ride at the end of Oxford Street will have to be closed, eliminating parking spaces the ministry estimates are used by about 15 to 20 drivers per day. The project will also require the elimination of street parking outside the Lynn Creek Apartments.
“There’s certainly a lot of benefits that will come from the upgrade to Phibbs Exchange and the benefits will impact many more people than will be impacted by the loss of the parking spots,” Ma said.
In a statement, District of North Vancouver Mayor Mike Little welcomed the groundbreaking.
“Providing a safer and better equipped exchange point for those taking transit around the North Shore is a good step towards addressing our challenging transportation needs. “Phibbs Exchange is one of the most critical transit hubs in our community, so these much needed upgrades are welcome additions.”
When the province announced the rebuild in the summer, transit riders criticized the plans for lacking a customer washroom. In their next round of capital improvements, TransLink has enough budget to install six new public washrooms across the entire system.
Ma said the Phibbs design includes utility hookups for washrooms and she’s made it clear to TransLink’s higher-ups that Phibbs travellers deserve a place to go when they’re on the go.
“I would say that those conversations so far have been positive, but they do have their own process to go through,” she said.
The budget for the project is $32.5 million, up from $30 million when it was announced in June, $18.8 million of which is being funded by the province, The feds kicking in $11.7 million and the district has put up $2 million.
The Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure awarded the contract to Conwest Contracting Ltd. in September.
About 16,000 transit riders pass through Phibbs Exchange per day.