October 15, 2013
Edited after Stephen Rees comment
At the 1995 Fall
- Up to 1987, the 9 was the only cross-town service along Broadway. and started to have runs to UBC only after University Bld got Trolley wires in 1988.
- Before, 1987, UBC was reached from the Broadway corridor by the bus 10 (nowadays route 14), which had been extended to UBC in fall 1968 (then it was working in combination with the Hasting express bus)
- With the advent of the Expo line in 1986, BC transit will start an express service from Commercial (now Commercial-Broadway) to UBC, in fall 87, numbered 81 the first year, then 31:
The bus 31, was a typical rush hour only express service with pick up only at all local bus stop East of Oak, for the West bound direction (and drop off only for the east bound), then non stop to UBC.
1996, Introduction of the 99 B line service on the Fall
The preliminary service is weekday only, but is running all day long (without evening serice), and receives a special branding: the “Bee Line” logo.
express route 31 is discontinued
The line will reach the UBC loop after enlargment of it, in the spring 1997. The Clark stop will be added at the same time
Sasamat is added in the Fall 1997
The service is an instant success, and the offer needs to be reinforced as soon as Nov 1996, where peak morning frequency is already at 4mn between Commercial and UBC 
1998: Full deployment in the fall
A new fleet of 21 low-floor articulated buses with a distinctive B-Line paint scheme and bike rack was deployed. All that were novelties on the Vancouver bus system in 1998. Service is extended on week-end and evening . The Brentwood-Boundary loop route (109) is then discontinued.
The ridership increased by 20%, prompting an order for 5 additional buses
Bus bulges are installed at the Sasamat bus stop, in May/June 1998 , as a demonstration project: Besides it, the 99B line never benefited of any BRT like fixed infrasrtucture
2002 and after: the SkytrainMillenium line days
- The Skytrain line replaces the B line east of Commercial in 2002
- In 2003, Translink introduces non stop bus between COmmercial and UBC (99 Special) to handle additioan demand generated by the introduction of the U-Pass
- In Jan 2006, the opening of the VCC-Clark station allows the opening of a new route from it to UBC (#84), supposed to relieve crowding on the Broadway corridor
- Fraser, and Arbutus stop are added in 2009
- The students, continued to board the first 99 showing up, rather than waiting for the 99 Special, which was then not alleviating crowding. the 99 special service has been discontinued with the introduction of the route 84:
|Oct 1997||8,500 |
|Nov 1997||10,000 |
|1998||16,000 (*) |
(*) The Original BC Transit estimate was 12,000 
Some reasons for the success.
It is worth to notice a great emphasis on the marketing side, and its technical limitation  :
- A distinctive product:
- The B line branding is applied to any aspect of the bus service: bus, bus-stop, map and schedule
- It is worth to mention that the bee line logo copyright has been challenged by an individual: the controversy did some stride in the mediaa, bringing exposure to the product itself
- The buses looking “different” don’t get unnoticed by drivers.
- The line has his dedicated bus stop
- The accessible low floor buses has been a disruptive point in the industry (same has occured with trams in the 90′s)
But one, must not forget the “geometry” fundamental of the line:
- Where it was ~37 bus stop between Commercial and Alma (route 9), the 99B was offering only 6 (now 8) along the same 8.5km segment.
- The strong Central broadway anchor (before not directly accessible from the Lougheed corridor
- At the exception of Allison and Heather (Vancouver General Hospital), All stop connect with other network bus lines:
- The time gain is especially consequent (up to 40% time gain)
- The B line, especially in its eastern part (pre millenium line), is conceived as to be feeded by local buses.
- The B line runs on as much as of the entire corridor broadway-Lougheed, making it very legible
- In practice service east of Commercial was relatively limited, but people coming from the Lougheed corridor, was able to board on a fast service offering limited stop service in Vancouver
The route 44 (limited stop from down town to UBC), having replaced the express route 85 (local on the downtown peninsula, then non stop up to UBC) participate from the same philosophical approach as the 99B.
The 98B line
The line opened on August 7, 2001, after a 4 1/2 month transit strike
The 98B line will capitalize on all the 99B lessons, but will add some BRT like features:
- Dedicated Right of Way (number 3 road in Richmond), and bus lanes in Vancouver (Marpole)
- Specially designed bus shelter, with real time information system
- premeption of traffic signal (at least in Richmond)
- The system was originally deployed to accelreate fire department response: it was not clear it was very efficient for transit operations
It is possible that Translink, could have liked to discontinue all direct services from Richmond, to having them feeding the 98B line…In fact rush hour direct services has been preserved, but the 98B line replaced a rather confusing array of bus routes (401, 403, 406 and 407) with a legible, direct, and frequent service, between Vancouver and Richmond Center. The line has been discountinued in fall 2010, as being replaced by the Canada line
 TCRP Program report 65: Evaluation of Bus Bulbs, National Academy press, Washington D.C., 2001
 Vancouver’s BLine Experience, Jeffrey Busby, TRB Annual Meeting 13 January 2013.
 TCRP report 90: Bus Rapid Transit Volume 1: Case Studies ( Annex B Bus Rapid TransitVancouver British Columbia, Translink #98 and #99 B lines), National Academy press, Washington D.C., 2003
 “Planning of Vancouver’s Transit Network with an Operations-Based Model“, Ian Fisher, May 1 2009, Translink
 “Bus System Performance Review”. May 31, 2012 – Translink
July 2, 2013
At a time when “both TransLink and the City of Vancouver are aiming to establish a common vision for bus service in downtown Vancouver“, it is still interesting to have a look at what has been done in past in that respect
In 1975, the Bureau of Transit Services, then depending from the Minister of municipal affairs prepared a transit service plan to complement the City land plan :
This plan is important in many aspects, and mainly the adopted methodology
It lays down the general picture in which a downtown plan can take shape
Thought not in service in 1975, the West Coast Express concept were already discussed, and the terminals and vessels, for the seabus, were under construction. The skytrain was still a quite distant concept , but the LRT discussed in the plan is clearly considered as a pre-metro, aimed to be underground in the Core Business district.
But More importantly,
It lays down 7 principles guiding the plan
Those principle are subdivized into 3 common service characteristics:
- Direct Routing
- Minimize unecessary transfers
- Minimal walking distance to final destinations
(1) Don’t divert routes to serve specific needs: Diversion means a less attractive service for most of the travellers
(2) Use secondary services connecting to main ones, to serve “out of the way” area (rather than divert main routes)
(3) Use the downtown grid for “random schedule” transfers
(4) Go Straight thru the “center of gravity” of an area, and not its periphery, which increases the total walking distance by half.
(5) Transit and pedestrians: the concept of pedestrianization and transit must not be treated independently.
The study cites Jane Jacobs  to support the idea of bringing together the transit network with the pedestrian area 
(6) Prefer two way operations over one way, since it offers the maximum coverage
(7) Prefer nearside bus stop over farside, sinec it allows the passengers to alight before have to wait at a traffic light.
Many, if not all, of this principles are what Jarret Walker calls the geometry of Transit, and that is the reason why they are still as valid in 2013 as they were in 1975:
- Principle (7): Thought some cities like Montreal and Toronto, have bus stopa on the nearside, most of the cities adopt a farside model, since it usually allows a better general traffic output, and modern LRT/trams use also farside bus stops, since it allows a more efficient signal preemption
- Principle (1), (4) and (6): They are very strong transit geometry principles which have justified the conversion of Manners Mall in Wellington New Zealand, from a pedestrian only street to a transit mall.
- Principle (4) and (5) are why transit needs to be considered as part of the urban fabric
Some comments on the DT plan
The geometry of transit largely comfort the relevance of the historic streetcar grid:
- The choice of the streets is guided by principle (4)
- The streetcar service along Hornby, was expected to use the Arbutus line outside the DT core: the routing thru Hornby plan is consistent with the 1972 Erickson plan developped for the court house complex.
- The Robson square is envisioned to be a pedestrian oriented area, serviced by transit in full accordance with principle (4), and the Arthur Erickson’s vision for Robson square:
The only traffic through the square will be inner city buses, linking the West and and False Creek. Since buses function as people movers, they are seen as a compliment or enhancement to the pedestrian activity of the civic square [...]
- At the time of drafting the plan the Robson bus was using the couplet of one way streets Smythe/Robson: a two way service along Robson is clearly the privilegied choice.
The advent of the Canada line kind of fullfill this vision.
The underlying philosophy leading to the plan, articulating pedestrian areas around transit, and not the reverse, illustrates the dramatic shift of the current Vancouver council approach, which dismiss the transit geometry, as illustrates the Robson bus circling the square to serve a “specific need”.
At the end a transit service is envisioned on Nelson to complement the planned development of the westend, as well as a pheripheral line, to serve the “social and recreational” place on the pheriphery of downtown:
Remarkably, they are echoing recurring wishes for Transit in downtown, but the plan warms that “…there really is not much to be gained in professing support for programmes to get more people to use public transit without commitment to actions to give transit priority use of streets in Downtown Vancouver and in other urban centres in the metropolitan area.”
Alas, the current Vancouver council policies could not be farther apart of this commitment to transit.
 Draft memorandum on transit service planning to complement downtown peninsula plans of the City of Vancouver, Bureau of Transit Services, BC Minister of Municipal affairs, Sept 19, 1975. (13.6MB file)
 the underlying concept had been drafted by Harry Rankin by 1970, see The Case for Rapid Transit…in 1970
 The Death and Life of Great American Cities, Jane Jacobs, Random House, New York, 1961
 51-61-71 Project, block 71 Schematics, Arthur Erickson Architects, 1974
 Vancouver’s 1975 downtown transit plan, John Calimenete, April 7, 2010
 This view is echoed by Jan Gehl, among others, providing rational for Transit on Sydney’s George Street.
December 12, 2012
Brent Toderian (@BrentToderian) December 11, 2012
Have you noticed the bus route number in the picture: it is a subliminal message from Brent Toderian
Trying to follow their European counterparts, many cities around the US, including Los Angeles, now commit tremendous amount of money on down-town Transit initiatives, seen as key toward their urban renaissance. Former Vancouver Chief Planner, Brent Toderian, thinks differently: We should get rid of the transit to install patios! Huh: What about the cars?
To be sure, it seems to be the talk of the day in London Ontario, for its main downtown street, Dundas street. London could have its own reason but that is odd:
- It doesn’t have the excuse to be in 1970, not even the one of a pedestrian Mall project (like the 1970′s Wellington Golden Mile)
- It is both more capital and operating intensive 
In brief, when cities around the world invest toward more attractive Downtown transit, London Ontario seems willing to invest toward the opposite goal?
Could we see here at play a very concerning Canadian attitude, toward surface Transit?
 $1.8M for bus-free Dundas, London Community News, June, 06, 2012
 Ironically, the very same reason why Wellington has reintroduce Transit on its Golden Mile
November 19, 2012
There is little piece of urban furniture we interact more than with a bus stop pole, and still this element of the urban fabric is too often neglected (his brother the bus shelter has usually better fortune). Below an essay on the Parisian bus stop pole:
It is in 1922 that Paris and the Seine department agreed to have bus stop installed on the streets. At this time, some are part of lampposts, they will be mounted on independent pole, what is now the general practice, at the time of the replacement of the gas lampposts by electrical ones:
Save for the RATP color scheme of the time, up to the 1970, the bus stop shape didn’t changed, becoming a clear Parisian identifier:
The side circles, will be replaced by a trapezoidal shape somewhat in the 70s. In addition to make a cleaner volumetric form with no protuberance, It provides a distinct shape to the bus stop, easy to discriminate from the road signs, which are mainly circles, triangles and squares.
Today, the same bus stop (slightly relocated at the time of the renovation of the Louvre in 1983-89), has kept the same form. Modern technology able to provide real time information is integrated into it. The color scheme, green jade, is the one used by the RATP since 91.
The Parisian bus stop has many qualities, well epitomized in the picture below:
Lately, the City of Paris, wanting to go one step forward had launched an idea competition about “smart urban furniture”. One of the winner is the ibus stop:
 flik ruser tobiwei
November 9, 2012
Pretty often, you can see in the news that double articulated bus have extraordinary carrying capacity, e.g. 300 passengers , news somewhat used by advocacy groups or lobbyists to promote their idea. The point is that the capacity number refers to a context, be South America or China, where bus occupancy standard could not be at par with the ones seen in North America . This need to replaced into the proper context:
The construction of the curve
The curve below uses a capacity index normalized at 1 for the staple 40 foot bus, rather than an absolute pax capacity. This curve has been essentially drawn from number collected from the LACMTA which has a fleet including 40″, 45″, 60″ and 65 foot buses, and other correlations to deduce that the bus capacity as function of its length is looking like it:
The curve begs explanation:
There is lot of “dead” space in a bus, bus driver space, wheel’s room…which will impair its capacity. As well the interior configuration and doors can affect the circulation inside the bus (usually a bus carries less pax per sq meter rear of its back door). The bus articulation area is a kind of a dead space of its own too, and it is usually 5 feet long…The scheme below illustrates the issue:
The bus articulation joint leading to an sub-optimal use of space is also
- an additional source of maintenance.
- and additional constraint on door location (leading to additional dwelling inefficiency)
Due to the above, transit agencies could look at buses with extended body rather than more articulations. The bus maneuverability is usually maintained by rear wheels steering , a relatively common occurrence on European bus 45ft or longer.
The doors configuration
Step free bus interior with door behind the rear axles is a relatively common occurrence seen in Europe: The reason is to encourage people to occupy the rear of the bus, and offer a better load partition along the whole bus length. That leads often to 3 door 40ft+ bus and 4 door 60ft+ bus, which have the other advantage to improve the dwelling time:
But there is more to doors: outside opening doors could be preferred to the ones consuming precious interior space :
Additionally, they don’t interfere with passengers in overloaded bus, allowing faster opening/closing operation. The freed space can allow more optimal organization of the interior space:
Notice that the UK agencies, like the Hong-Kong companies, in general adopt a different policy than the continental Europe ones in regard of bus doors. Pretty often bus come with a single large door, which has the advantage of discouraging fare dodger, allows more seating spaces, and less strain on the bus HVAC system. Paris’ RATP used to have 3 door 40ft and 4 doors 60ft, but eventually reverted to 2 door 40ft and 3 door 60ft in an attempt to discourage fare dodger
The double decker bus
In theory, it offers a tremendous capacity. But, beside the room taken by the stairwell, the separation of space on two levels prevents an optimal partitioning of the load. However, one of the main drawback of the double decker is considered its longer dwelling time making it a solution less interesting than articulated bus in normal urban condition.
That said, most recent double deckers, as the one illustrated here, the new London bus, NB4L (37 feet) or the Man Lion’s city DD (45 feet)
In despite of pure geometric drawback as noticed above, The question of the relevance of the double decker bus need to be kept open, since people tend to like it, and there is at least 2 reasons for that:
- It offers 2 different spaces, usually a quieter one on the top deck, ideally suited for longer journey
- It offers greater comfort than artics bus, especially rear of artics bus
Those reasons able to attract more customer, in addition of operating advantage (it make a better use of road/curb/yard space) can offset other drawbacks as noticed above.
An embryon of this post had been posted on SPP in 2010. It is written in the context of addressing the Vancouver Broadway capacity issue
 this video illustrates it
 this video illustrates it
Lacmta estimates the capacity of its 65 footer at 100 pax. The constructor, Nabi, will come up with number at 71, while in Bratislava, a similar bus length will be considered able to carry 200 pax. Bi-articulated buses operate more often than not in area having generous standard for bus capacity closer to the Bratislava than the Los Angeles one.
in the 1960′s the Province and the city of Vancouver were in thorny discussions regarding the development of critical downtown blocks known as block 51 (where the Vancouver Art Gallery sits) and the block 61 on its immediate southern edge. The city, unhappy with the direction imposed by the Province, had the Vancouver art Council to commission Arthur Erickson and Geoffrey Massey, to develop a counter-proposal , what they will do in 1966:
The Erickson/Massey proposal was redefining an area much larger than block 51 and 61. It was including also block 71 and 42, among other:
One will eventually draw some parallels with the Le Corbusier‘s plan Voisin for Paris. While the cold reception of his plan had contributed to make Le Corbusier person non grata in Paris…Vancouver gave a much warmer reception to the Erickson modernist ideas! 
In detail, this plan, extend the government activities on block 71, reserving the block 51 to civic activities. Erickson was considering that:
“If the downtown is to survive as a shopping center street, it must compete on equal term with the suburban shopping center, it must provides adjacent parking, free pedestrian traffic flow without crossing traffic lanes and some degree of shelter and pleasant surrounding for the shopper.”
Accordingly, the traffic movement was addressed in a multi-layered system, in which car and pedestrian were atop, while bus and truck, considered as service, were put underground:
His rationals for the segregation of traffic per mode -also promoted by Le Corbusier then for different reasons- lead him to design Robson street and Granville street, the identified main retail Malls (by Erickson, as by the city), on at least 3 levels:
- atop, a covered pedestrian mall on one to 2 levels
- below, a bus tunnel, where the bus, in the Erickson view, are understood as parking shuttle
- and at lower level, a service lane for truck traffic
A case of more interest to us in the context of the current city plan
The Strasse becomes a Shopping arcade
The access to Robson square is done thru the second level of the Shopping arcade – to not impede car traffic on Hornby street.
How to get there?
Of course, all that had to be serviced by an appropriate network of freeway, and Erickson was also calling for a ring road:
Eventually there is a rational to believe that Erickson was better architect than urbanist, thought some will probably explain that the Erickson mastery is not enough understood:
The general development form, with strict separation of movement according to transportation mode, implicitly negating the social function of the street, was a staple of the time, and is usually concomitant to a general organization of the space on multi-level. Such schemes have almost universally proven to be a failure
That said this proposal is important, because it lays down many concept which will be applied in the design of the existing provincial court house complex. One of the most important is not to consider an extension of the Provincial court (from block 51 to block 61), but a relocation of it ( from block 51 to blocks 61/71), freeing block 51 to civic usage. The concept of the sunken plaza, is also introduced in this proposal.
Some other concepts will appear in a different form in the Vancouver urban landscape…like the covered mall of the proposal, which will later translates into the rain-screen above sidewalk- in fact more inline with what was envisioned by Eugène Hénard in its vision of the Parisian street of the future…in 1900.
It also states some important analysis:
- bring the people as close as they want to go
While the car was considered as the mean of choice. Tansit was considered as an important complementary component to the accessibility, and was brought right into the high street of the town, including of course Robson street and square.
Analysis/critics and concern expressed on the Eatons centre; can also be considered as prescient for the time:
“Cemp-Eaton development could very well help the surrounding commercial areas instead of showing a blank face to them. We see the Cemp_eaton project as a vital catalyst to the downtown but are anxious that it not to be inward-looking and self-cenetred, threathening the existing shopping of Granville Street by creating its own subtarrean shopping centre, divorced from the existing shopping pattern.”
As well, a good analysis of why the downtown Vancouver didn’t follow the path of other downtown in North America:
“The downtown Vancouver has strong characteristics, principally from the uniqueness of its site, the surrounding sea, the beaches, the harbour, Stanley Park, and the crossing to the mountains.Largely because of this, the West End has emerged as one of the unique residential precincts in the world”
Cities downtown will eventually learn later, that to be thriving, they don’t have to compete on equal term with the suburban shopping center, but have to offer what they can do the best: a “real” urban experience in all its complexities… which supposes a certain level of “entropy” in its spatial organization
source: A Proposal for Block 61 and the Downtown Core. Erickson/Massey architects, Vancouver, 1966
 Bruno Freschi was also part of the team (source, VancouverSun, May 18 1966) thought his name didn’t appear on the author list of the proposal
 It was of course some dissident voices. The more noticeable was the one of the jurists, and the attorney general of the time, Robert Bonner. They had commissioned the architect Vladimir Plavsic to draft a “counter-counter proposal” (I don’t have more information on it, but for the record, Plavsic was a “brutalist” architect: he has designed the 805 Broadway Medical Dental Centre known as the Frank Stanzl building).