C-Tran is an agency on the move.
Employees don’t have time to bask in the limelight following last week’s announcement that the American Public Transportation Association selected C-Tran as the top mid-sized transit agency in North America.
Next month, more than 75 administrative employees will move to new offices in east Vancouver, the first time C-Tran will be housed in two different locations.
The move is one part of an approximately $26 million program that also will add a three-story building at the agency’s existing location in central Vancouver to provide more room for current maintenance, operations and training needs. The new building also will position C-Tran to meet future needs, including introduction of a second bus rapid transit system on the Mill Plain Boulevard corridor.
“It’s dealing with the current deficiency we have,” said Scott Patterson, C-Tran’s chief external affairs officer. “It will also be able to accommodate some future expansion.”
He said the bus fleet has more than doubled since 1983, when C-Tran opened its current facility at 2425 N.E. 65th Ave.
In late 2018, C-Tran purchased the former Gifford Pinchot National Forest offices, 10600 N.E. 51st Circle, for $6.85 million. The C-Tran Board of Directors approved spending another $950,000 on closing costs and improvements to the 40,000-square-foot building, including constructing a board-community room where board of directors meetings will be held starting in September.
C-Tran’s new administrative center is next door to regional offices for the Washington State Department of Transportation and the Washington State Patrol. The Gifford Pinchot National Forest moved its headquarters in 2017 to a century-old two-story building at the Fort Vancouver National Site.
Patterson said the move will more than double C-Tran’s administrative space, although part of the additional space will be used for the board-community room. C-Tran directors have been holding their monthly meetings at the Vancouver Community Library.
C-Tran considered expansion options at its current location before opting to purchase the former Forest Service building.
“New construction is much more expensive,” Patterson said. “We were able to save millions of dollars by acquiring a building and bringing it up to current standards.”
Patterson also doesn’t believe splitting administration away from other functions will affect day-to-day business.
“With technology these days, we don’t expect it to be a hinderance to doing the work we need to be able to do,” he said.
Moving administrative staff to a new location will free up room for C-Tran to expand at its current location.
The agency intends to demolish its existing administration/operations buildings and construct a three-story structure, along with parking, stormwater management, landscaping and fencing improvements.
The bus maintenance facility was last improved in 2016 so it could accommodate larger 60-foot buses used for The Vine, C-Tran’s first bus rapid transit line along Fourth Plain Boulevard. A second line on Mill Plain Boulevard could begin operations in 2023.
Patterson said the new building will add three more bays for maintaining buses. Each bay will be able to accommodate one 60-foot bus or two 40-foot buses, he said.
Half of the first and second floors of the building will be devoted to maintenance bays. The other half of the first and second floor, as well as all of the third floor, will be used for operations, including dispatching and training.
Patterson said C-Tran doesn’t know when all work will be completed because the agency is still working through design and engineering for the expansion.