Reference spreadsheets

April 16, 2014

For the purpose to document our different posts, such as this one, we use to maintain a couple of spreadsheet related to Translink, which I have updated and put under Google doc

Translink ridership, operations and capital datas

This spreadsheet gathers information usually found in the “Translink Statutory Annual Reports, and other relevant reports, like the APTA ridership reports.

ridership 1986-2013

The numbers are not necessarily always matching the Translink reports:
To enable better comparison across different Transit system, the below assumptions are done:

  • Operating costs include the consolidated operating costs, but not the depreciation and debt service costs, neither Translink Police cost (a Translink specificity)
  • Farebox revenues include all ridership related revenues. In addition of the farebox itself: it includes also advertising revenues (and should include fine recovery revenue too)
  • Capital costs include all Capital cost supported by both the taxpayers and Translink
    • Number could be sparsely collected, especially for the Expo line

Notice

Due to the Canada Line P3 financing arrangement, it is not possible to separate the operating cost of the debt servicing cost: for this reason the farebox recovery (farebox revenue/Operating cost) is computed excluding the Canada line (both cost and revenue).
A 62.5% farebox recovery ratio is good:

farebox recovery ratio (excluding the Canada line, both ‘operating cots’, and related revenues)

Translink service datas

This spreadsheet gathers information coming from the Google GTFS (Translink schedules) and are appended with some other datas such as the Bus service Performance review. They represent an image of the service on first Friday following the Labor day of every year.

  • Data are extracted of the Translink gtfs feed (most of the precedent years are available here here
  • The Perl script to populate the spreadsheet from the GTFS datas is provided here
    • vehicle type used per route (data used to compute the capacity.km) is as seen of our vantage point: we welcome correction

Some fun facts

  • Schedule bus service average speed is of 22.65km/h
  • Not surprisingly: the slowest service is the #6 (closely followed by #5), at 9.56km/h, the fastest is the #555 at 62.33km/h
  • …but the 99B service is schedule at an average speed of 21.56km/h, still much faster than the bus 9 at 14.5km/h

Notice the mileage per route is computed from waypoint as provided by Translink into the GTFS files – and the quality of them varied greatly – the later years being much better than the earlier (but still need some corrections): The mileage is eventually corrected accordingly in the spreadsheet (assuming the average bus service speed is practically constant at 22.65km/h over years).

The numbers are not necessarily always matching Translink report:

The average speed computed from “Translink Statutory Annual Reports is at ~19.5km (see above spreadsheet). The average speed computed from the GTFS is of 22.65km/h. Other numbers could also mismatch significantly (like poor correlation between service hour /km computed from GTFS and the one provided by the annual report. Here is the proposed explanation:

  • The “annual service” included in the annual reports, include dead-end trip and lay-over in addition of the customer service: that explain also the discrepancy in the average speed
  • The “annual service” is provided on a car basis by Translink: one hour of a 2 cars train service is computed as 2 hour car service by Translink) when it is computed for one hour train service from the GTFS datas
  • Not all trips are included in the GTFS: that is especially for the Skytrain, where special event can trigger additional unscheduled service (e.g. the shuttle train operating between Commercial and Waterfront is not rported in the GTFS)

That said, the service hour variation year over year roughly followed what can be obtained form the annual report (minus the 2010 year)

service hour on first friday following labour day

Thought the previous metric is often used by both Translink and local transit advocates, it is basically an irrelevant one when it is time to evaluate the level of Transit service. the provided transit capacity.km is a much more relevant one : That has increased by ~18% between 2007 and 2013:

Capacity.km of Transit service has increased by ~18% between 2007 and 2013 included

Some facts worth to note

As a rule of thumb, multiplying a weekday service datas by ~330 provide a good approximation of its annual data (that can be verified on the comparison of a daily route service and the annual operating hour per route as provided by the Translink’s BSPR), but we have a rather significant discrepancy -hard to explain by layover and dead-end trip- when come route #96B and #555

<

route Annual hour service
Computed from GTFS schedule From Annual report [2] difference in %
All 3,841,860 4,950,000 29%
555 13,500 21,400 60%
96B 42,900 62,400 44%

[1] Translink has started to track the capacity.km metric in 2011. but this metric is not provided in a straightforward way in its reports, and number doesn’t seems very consistent either: the maximum car capacity, 167, is used for the Canada Line service, but the car caapcity is estimated at ~50pax on the Skytrain (and at ~55 on the bus system). We have used the maximum capacity (not necessarily a realistic one, but a consistent one across the board, see vehicles.txt into the Perl package).

[1] 2013 Statutory annual report, Translink April 2014.

Grounded on principle previously exposed, we present here some more concrete ideas of what could look an ideal transit network in downtown. In a top down approach, we naturally ensure that the regional and city transit lines are optimized: that is the main purpose of this post

The regional transit network:

The regional bus network: the extension of the North sore bus route to the Main street Station

The regional bus network: the extension of the North sore bus route to the Main street Station

The Hasting buses (named HSB) such as bus 135 are considered as regional bus, as well as all buses heading to the North Shore (named NSB for the one using the Lions gate Bridge).

A major change is with the North shore buses.
All routes coming are extended to Main terminal:

  • The actual connection with the Granville station is preserved, but patrons will eventually find that Stadium or Main will provide better transfer: that will reduce crowding pressure at the Georgia#Granville stop
  • Georgia street, sometime called a traffic sewage, is where some want hide Transit and its users: it is not without creating challenges.

    Corwding at Georgia#Granville bus stop is reduced by the extension of the north shore buses to Main station

  • It resolves North shore bus layover issues in the downtown core: there is ample space at The Main/Terminal
  • It provides a direct connection with the Main street bus routes (3,8, and 19)
  • it provides a direct connection with the train and intercity buses station.

A potential extension to the future Broadway line station, at Great Northern Way# Fraser, could be doable too


City Bus routes:

the city bus network

the city bus network

A major change on the main street corridor:

Bus #3 and #8 are short-turned at the north end of Main. It is a result of an observation: most of the patron of those routes, transfer onto the Expo line at main terminal, leaving bus #3 and #8 wandering empty in the downtown core. It is also a follow up of a previous Translink recommendation [1].

  • The saving in term of operating cost is tremendous, and it helps to address bus congestion (mainly at bus stop) on the hasting corridor

Bus 19 can preserve a direct connection between the downtown and the Main Corridor.

The route 22 toward the Knight street corridor
In the context of the 2013 Bus service optimization consultation, we came up with a “counter proposal” to improve the bus 22 and C23 route (then proposed to be extended to Terminal Avenue) which has been discussed in comment section of the buzzer blog:

proposed extension of route C23 (in blue) and rerouting of bus 22 (in red) to serve the Terminal avenue area, and provide a good connection with the Expo line

The bus is permantly routed thru terminal avenue (instead of Prior and Gore).

  • it improves the connection to the expo line (for people using its East branch)
    • to avoid a left turn at Main street(preventing to have a bus stop in direct connection with the Expo line), the route 22 is routed thru Columbia and Quebec street.
  • The actual 22 use Pender street, but Hasting could be a superiori choice (direct connection with hasting bus corridor, and closer to Waterfront):
    • Toward it a section of Columbia (North of Pnder) could need to be reverted as a two-way street.

The Bus 17

It is used to provide a North south service East of Granville from Waterfront (bus termini on Cordova). Due to the street layout, Cambie street is the only reasonnable choice:

  • Beatty closer to the Staidum station end up at pender, is often closed to traffic with special event at Canada place.
  • Hamilton and all western choice, are to too far away of the Statdium station, and roverlapping too much with the Granville corridor.

The route 50 case.

This aim of this route is to provide some transit service to Granville island and on the South False Creek slope. That said, the routing of this route make it of little value for too many people:

We redesign this route as a peripheral one, linking Broadway#Granville, Granville Island, Olympic station, Main street station and Main#Hasting:

bus 50 as a peripheral route connecting Main#Hasting to Bradway#Granville via Main station, Olympic station and Granville Island

bus 50 as a peripheral route connecting Main#Hasting to Bradway#Granville via Main station, Olympic station and Granville Island

Among other benefits: Such alignment allows to improve the transit offer in the South East Flase Creek area, and remove one diesel bus route of the Granville Mall.

The inconvenience of this design is the eventual lost of a direct connection between Downtown and Granville island: The implementation of an elevator between granville island and the Granville bridge span could be a good solution, which could be part of the Granville Bridge greenway proposal

The route 15 is then prolonged to downtown, following the alignement of route 17, able to provide a more consistent bus service on the peninsula section of Cambie

The Hasting bus corridor

We include the bus serving Powell in this corridor (essentially route #4). Even with the removal of bus #3 and #8, there is lot of bus service redundancy (#7,#14,#16,#20): The rationalization of it should be the object of a study focusing on this corridor rather than a down town study.

The Burrard bus corridor

At this time, it consists only of bus 22 and 44. If the Broadway subway is designed to terminate at Arbutus, it is expected that this corridor will see much more bus traffic, and a revamped route 44 -using Broadway to connect with the subway line- could see a level of service similar to the actual bus 99.


[1] Vancouver/UBC Area Transit Plan , Translink, July 2005.

We have generally welcomed the last 2 rounds of service optimization, since they address bus route network structural deficiencies and this year makes no exception:
Among proposed change the 404 rerouting from Ladner exchange to Riverport is something we have previously called for:

The bus 49

It is important that TransLink rationalizes its bus network to provide value for both the taxpayer and the transit user, as well as provide a sound foundation for sustainable growth. The most obvious inefficiencies, are the route diversions serving specifc needs- An issue already well identified in the 1975 Downtown Vancouver bus review [2]- since a diversion means a less attractive service for most of the travellers.

A bus route detour may seem benign on a relatively low frequency route but it introduces inefficiencies which compound as transit ridership grows. It is notoriously the case of the bus 49 diversion at Champlain Height, which we have already pointed to the Translink commission

current_bus_49

Such a diversion could have been overlooked decades ago, but is an unsustainable in 2014, with UBC, a Canada Line connection and Metrotown as major destinations along this route:

The Champlain Heights detour is an unnecessary inconvenience for 95% of route 49’s 20,000 weekday riders. It adds 4 to 5 minutes to each of the approximately 250 daily bus trips, which costs $500,000 annually (more than the cost to operate all the Ladner/South Delta community shuttles routes C84, C86 C87 C88 and C89 combined)[1]. This figure will only get worse over time.

Addressing it, not only improve the Translink financial sheet, but it also dramatically improve the bus service along the 49th avenue:

The proposed new bus 49 route by Translink saves 4 to 5 mn on each of the 250 daily runs done by the bus 49

The proposed new bus 49 route by Translink saves 4 to 5 mn on each of the 250 daily runs done by the bus 49

Understandably, some residents affected by the change have voiced their concerns [3]. Any routing change affects some customers and their concerns need to be considered. In the route 49 case, virtually all Champlain Heights’ residents will stay within 500 metres of a bus stop (either rerouted bus 49 or bus 26, both being among the 20% most frequent bus routes).

A reworking of the bus 26 could be also possible along lines below providing better connections to the rest of the network and service/jobs than the actual one:

A bus Joyce/Metrotown could improve the accessibility of the Champlain Heights thru the rest of the network, service and jobs compared to the current route (29th Ave Skytrain station- Joyce)

…But eventually the development of the East Fraser lands area calls for a more drastic review of the bus routes in this area, so it seems wise to not touch the route 26 for the time being (since it is a prime candidate to be extended to the East Fraser Lands)

The saving provided by the ending of the 49 diversion could easily pay for a community shuttle linking champlain mall to Metrotown thru 54th avenue.

  • ~40 daily shuttle runs could end up to cost ~$125,000 annually, assuming a $60/h shuttle operating cost [1]

but one could reasonnably question: Is it the best use of the saving Translink can do, when so many other areas are severed of even basic Translink service?

In any case, there is no lack of options to mitigate the lost of a direct 49 access for some people, and potential inconveniences are largely outweighted by the general service improvment.

The Vancouver council position

It is sad, but not overly surprising that the Vancouver council seems to be prepared to pass on March 11th, a motion initiated by Geoff Meggs, disregarding the benefit of the proposed 49 rationalization for the overwhelming majority of transit user, to focus only on a so called “service cut” in the Champlain Height, to oppose to the the improvment of the route 49.

One will notice, that so doing, the Vancouver council is dismissing the transit user value of time, and its contribution for the region’s economy (a viewpoint rightfully denounced by Gordon Price)…Do they adopt the same perspective when it is time to argue for a Broadway subway?

In the context of a looming transit funding referendum, it is extremely important that TransLink addresses its network inefficiencies, especially when they impede greater benefits for most of the transit users, and reduce the transit value of our tax dollars… and thought one could expect tthat its efforts could receive full support froom the concerned municipalities, it is also important that Vancouver doesn’t receive a favor treatment.


[1] Bus service performance review, Translink 2013

[2] The Downtown Vancouver Bus Service vision in 1975

[3] Bus service cut worries Champlain seniors,Sandra Thomas, Vancouver Courier, February 25th, 2014


Since mid 2012, Translink and the city of Vancouver have been working on a Downtown bus service review, with public open houses held on June 2012. Below is our take on it:

It is no secret, that the purpose of the exercise, done under the impulse of the city of Vancouver, is to clear many areas of the city from transit, and more notoriously Robson square. As such the public has been presented with a set of constraints:

The constraint set for the Downtown bus Public consultation

The constraint set for the
Downtown bus review Public consultation

The consultation was not presented necessarily in the best terms possible – we could have liked a brief historic of the downtown transit network, and having the staff seeking feedback on a set of considered principles to design the transit network [2].

In light of it, and especially the previous consultation on the Block 51, the Downtown bus service review consultation Summary [6] is a very welcome surprise:

  • some geometric principles are spelled

    • “Routes should be designed to be simple, direct, and easy to understand”
  • More importantly, the concern on the impact of street closures to bus, especially Robson square, seems properly recorded, as well as a potential solution

    • “The Robson closure does nothing to better city culture and is disruptive for bus routes”


      “I approve the City’s initiatives for public spaces (eg. the 800-block of Robson) but this should not force transit to detour, there can be closures for private cars and trucks but let transit buses/trolley buses through, similar to great plazas in Europe.”

Timeless geometric principles as already stated in [2] (as we have seen here, and well worded on the Jarret Walker’s blog and book) appear as uncontournable.

Not surprisingly, the summary teach us, that in downtown, trips demand are from everywhere to anywhere…

Origin destination pair in the downtown peninsula exhibit a great entropy - nevertheless some major transit corridor appears

Origin destination pair in the downtown peninsula exhibit a great entropy – nevertheless some major transit corridor appears

Trying to single out some destinations to be served, such as a future art gallery, is somewhat self-defeating. The popular destination of today, was not the one of yesterday, and will be not necessarily the one of tomorrow. What is important is to be able to provide a network which is time resilient:

  • It is a “mobility” network, around which the city is structuring itself rather than the reverse

That leads to the following issues, from the most important to the least

Bus coverage

One principle in designing an efficient and resilient bus network, is to maximize the coverage while minimizing the number of bus lines, and still obeying to a core geometric principle: direct and consistent routing – that is a straight line (or following the street grid orientation). For the Downtown peninsnula, assuming an accepted ~1/4 mile walk to a bus stop, the probably most optimized configuration can be done using 3 main transit corridors as illustrated below

The yellow strips, representing bus corridor and their catchement area, are lay down to provide the the most efficient bus coverage in Dowtown. Red arrows represents necessary connectivity between bus corridor

One will quickly recognize the route 5/6 as structuring the Westend coverage in a very optimal way: It explains the resilience of those routes structuring the Westend since its very early development and still doing it:

The WestEnd development plan is widely based on the actual bus route 5/6 anchoring the high density and retail/commercial development

The WestEnd development plan is widely based on the actual bus route 5/6 anchoring the high density and retail/commercial development

Moving one bus route from one street to another one, could seem to be a minor change, but in fact it can affect dramatically the coverage…either by introducing gaps or redundancis in the transit coverage, all severly affecting the network efficiency. In the context of the current Westend development, consequence can be much more dire.

Connectivity

A perfect grid as suggested above should allow to make any local trips with no more than one connection.

Our public transportation network is also a hierarchized one:

  • “local bus” routes aiming to provide transportation option in downtown, such as route #5
  • “city bus” routes, that is the one connecting the downtown to other part of Vancouver, such as route #14
  • “regional transit” routes where lies the skytrain network, sea-bus but also bus route such as #250 or #135

To keep reasonable the number of transfers for people coming from outside Downton, it is particularly important to have all “structuring” downtown network lines connecting to the regional network:

Vancouver regional transit network in its Downtown

City routes are not represented, but can be considered as part of the “structuring” downtown network (that is particularly obvious in the case of route #19 serving Stanley park)

bus-seat supply

Specific bus route could be overloaded, but in some key downtown corridors (mainly Hasting and Granville), there is an over-all over supply of bus-seat (over-supply on some bus routes is not compensating under supply on others)- a typical problem in urban cores we have already encountered, in a more acute form, in Sydney, Australia


buses_Granville there is excees of capacity on the Hasting corridor west of Main – credit photo (1). Simialr observation can be drawn on Granville Mall – crdit photo (3)

It could be no easy answer to this problem, but one will notice that one rationalization never implemented was the the discontinuation of bus route #3 west of Main [5]. A similar conclusion could be draw for bus 8.

The fact that the route # and #8 use 60ft artics trolley bus (in short supply), reinforce the case for route shortening, freeing bus capacity where it is more needed

Urban integration
Buses congestion, leading to a bus wall, as seen above on Granville, create its own urban integration issue:

It obviously affect the pedestrian experience on this mall, by creating both a constant physical and visual barrier.

The issue could be complex to address on Granville Mall. Howerver some other urban issues can be more readily addressed:


bus_stop_queue_Georgia top: bus laying over at Davie and Denman – credit photo (4). Bottom bus line-up on Georgia street

The bus lay-over at Denman#Davie creates an uninvitating “pedestrian tunnel” whereas, sidewalk activity could thrive, considering the view, sun exposition, and immediate proximity to the Beaches.

We have already discussed on a relocation of this lay-over, in a critic of Denman street, which is underlining the network issue this lay-over also creates

Transit is very Vancouver centric: thought numerous bus route to North shore run on Georgia, there is no direct connection of them with the Westend. furthermore bus 5/6 make a time point at Davie and Denman making the Northshore<-> Davie area transit option less than appealing (map credit - Translink)

At the end, a succesful transit network, means a good patronage, which also creates its own issue, as we can regularly witness on Georgia street. Such problem should be addressed.

The additional constraints or Robson square

Cnnsidering the above issues, one can see emerging the rough lines of what could be an ideal transit network…but adding additional constraint in the form of arbitrary “no bus” zone could be wreaking havoc on it.

When come Pedestrian streets, they should be designed as a complement to the city transportation system, not as an impediment to it, and that is also a reason making their success…or failure otherwise [7]. Fortunately some solutions, especially the ones considering transit as part of the urban fabric, achieve exactly that

Note:One will find a summary of a city conversation on the Robson square issue, on the Stephen Rees blog.


[1] Georgia Straight

[2] We mainly think of some geometric principles. on the example of those clearly enounced in a the 1975 Downtown Vancouver Bus Service vision, as seen in a previous post. Translink has some material illustrating the importance of some, as discussed by Jarret Walker

[3] “The TTC page” website

[4] Stephen Rees

[5] Vancouver/UBC Area Transit Plan , Translink, July 2005.

[6] Downtown Vancouver Local Bus Service Review: Phase 1 Consultation Summary, Translink and City of Vancouver, 2013

[7] Jarret Walker uses the “bus as pedestrian fountain” methaphor to convey the importance of transit to the success of a pedestrian area.

yesterday, transport action BC (a group I am member of) got contacted by a TV network, on this topic, so here below, is what has been provided, as a discussion base on the topic:

I could entertain a Hong Kong type model:

  • distance based on the rail network.
  • fixed route based price n the bus system (with time variation on/off peak, but not distance based variation)

That is:

A compromise between and “ideal” economic model and a pricing model, simple enough to be understandable by people is required

an Octopus reader on a KMB bus in Hong Kong: price is simple and easy to understand, (no surprise price) – credit photo wikipedia

you want to know how much you gonna pay when you board the bus…not finding it out afterward!
that is also true for trains, but the train system can be made pretty clear, at the station’s Ticket Vending Machine.

distance pricing on bus open a Pandora box: what distance we are talking about?
… bus are able to pound many extra miles on a trip looking very short on the map:

As for this bus route 405 in Richmond, it is very common for bus route to do many detours, loop,… before bringing you to your destination: should you pay for all that extra mileage you didn’t ask for?

Just Imagine what you could think if a cab driver (charging by the distance) was using the bus 405 route for a trip from Ikea to a temple on Number 5 road in Richmond…

Vancouver region is full of those circuitous routes…

Distance doesn’t reflect the cost to provide a bus transit service

The cost to provide a bus service is mainly based on the time spent on the road, not the driven distance, by the bus [2]:
It is commonly admitted than bus driver wages and benefits account for ~70% of the operating cost of a bus, and wages are paid based on a time, not a distance, base.

  • bus 5 (Robson) average speed is barely better than 10km/h
  • bus 555 (PortMann express) zip along Hwy 1 at 100km/h

It is almost as expensive for Translink to provide a bus seat between Granville and Denman (1.6km), than it is to provide a bus seat between Carvolth exchange in Langley and Braid station in New Westminster (20km). Why the later one should cost more?

The real problem to address
The real problem is to encourage people to use bus off peak, or alternative route to the more congested one:
examples include

  • encourage people to bus 84 rather than bus 99.
  • encourage people to use the bus 96B rather the bus 320, on 104th avenue when they don’t need to travel east of Guilford

this to make an overall better usage of the transit system …That is: it is more a demand management model tha a distance based fare model which is needed.


[1] I plan to write further on the bus 96B and 320 interaction: recently published letters in the Surrey leader, (“Transit woes continue in North Surrey” and “Transit changes make no sense“, in their Sept 30th, 2013 edition) high-light a real network design problem

[2] The bus operating cost/hr is defacto the metric used by Translink to assess the operating cost of its bus routes, as illustrated in its bus performance service review

The Translink news reported by 24h [1] and already discussed by Stephen Rees:

People buying cash fare on bus, will not be able to transfer on the “gated” system, that is the skytrain, but also the Seabus

That is presented as a new tariff rule by Translink.

The scofflaw

Translink can’t change the short term fare at will, but need approval of the competent authorities, as stated by the law. Translink is governed by the South Coast British Columbia Transportation authority act. The act stipulates that when a fare increase (greater than 2% annually) or a first-time short term fare is contemplated, it requires that Translink

  • prepares a supplemntal plan to be approved by the council of Mayors (section 200)
  • And gets an approval by the Translink commissioner (section 203)

The Translink proposal is in essence a “first-time short term fare” for people buying cash fare on bus and transferring on train or bus (pretty much like people buying a cash fare at YVR pay a $5 “first-time short term fare”).

Unless Translink gets approval of the council of Mayor and Translink commissioner, it has no legal right to deny entry to the Skytrain and Seabus to holder of cash fare purchased on bus.

Doing so, by erecting a faregate, not working with those cashfare, is putting Translink in the feet of the scofflaw.

Obviously, like any scofflaws, it will have many excuses:

The Rubbish

  • “To convert all the bus fareboxes to issue passes that would access the fare gates would cost about $25 million”
  • The argument is so dump that it is borderline insulting

    No need to do that, what is just needed is a way to use the cash fare issued onboard a bus on the skytrain system. By own Translink’s number, a compass ticket machine (to put on bus) cost ~$15,000 [3]. have such machine just converting a magnetic cash fare to a Compass ticket can’t cost more (a magnetic strip reader is much cheaper than a machine sorting out coins). Installing one at each of the ~50 Skytrain stations, could cost less than $1 million. Probably much less, since what is just needed is to modify an already existing magnetic reader to allow it to read the cash fare (like the parking machine at the Vancouver airport does) or add an extra one, on an already existing Ticket vending machine.

  • “We are not unique in our approach. Many other transit systems around the world, including London and Paris, also don’t allow cash bus to rail transfers.”
  • That is again rubbish.

    • Both Paris and London faregates accept magnetic tickets
    • In Both Paris and London, the non transferable bus ticket was a policy preexisting the introduction of the smart card. At least in Paris, the Media used to issue onboard ticket is the same than the one used to issue off-board ones: the faregates are able to process magnetic ticket purchased onboard, read the information on it, and decide to open or not the door accordingly: It is a fare policy choice, not a technical limitation
  • “It is only customers who purchase fares on buses with cash who will not be able to use those transfers to transfer to rail—approximately 6,000 customers per day out of our 1.2 million daily rides”
  • How credible is this 6,000 figure? That doesn’t match at all my casual observation on the bus system (cash fare payment is indeed fairly frequent, may be 10% of the rider pay in cash), and it doesn’t match the translink latest annual report[2] either!

    • cash fare generates ~$100Million of revenue (that is 25% of fare revenue, so it is not marginal at all!) and you need to issue ~120,000 cash fare users per day to generate such a revenue stream…

    Even assuming that the majority of them are bought at TVM, we have all the reasons to believe that 60,000 is a much more plausible figure than this rubbish 6,000 one!

    The fact

    Translink clearly made a mistake in the implementation of its smartcard system, and instead to recognize it, try to explain it by lame excuses and deceiving tactics.

    Let’s hope the council of Mayor will respond appropriately to that, and deny the right to Translink to ban access to skytrain for holder of cash ticket purchased on bus, because it will,

    • Reaffirms its authority, hence confidence by the public that Tranlink, as a organization financed by taxpayer moeny is controlled by elected official, not bureaucrat
    • Affirms that what is at stake, is not a mere tariff change, but the aim and objective of Translink as a public service (accessible cash fare is an important aspect of that), what is the job of the politics, not of the bureaucrats

    If Translink doesn’t find a satisfying solution to accommodate the holder of cash ticket purchased on bus, it will have to leave the faregate doors open: that is simple and that is certainly the cheapest way!

    If Translink proceed against the law, it will be then time to launch a class action lawsuit on behalf of the cash fare holders.

    In the meantime, to prevent such eventuality, there is this online petition


    Edit

    The Translink board of directors has enacted a bylaw on July 24th, 2013, to enforce the new proposed tariff.

  • Does it means it has the legal right to do so?
  • The SCBCTA allows the board of directors to change short term fare only under specific circumstances, and this to meet debt obligation (section 223.11).

    It is unclear how the board of directors can justify that the introduction of the Compass card, planned for years, meet the requirements to invoke such an extraordinary clause, allowing the board to by-pass the elected officials. there is strong indication that the board of directors has acted beyond its legal right.


    [1] SkyTrain won’t take bus transfers with new Compass Card system, Michael Mui, 24 Hours Vancouver, Wednesday, August 14, 2013

    [2] Translink Statutory Annual Report, 2012

    [3] the $15,000 figure is inferred from the cost to outfilt all bus with a compass ticket vending machine, $25 Million, divided by the number of bus to outfit, ~1700. Typically a Ticket vending machine cost $50,0000 per unit.

    Cyclist beware: We are talking of the most dangerous road in whole Canada.

    According to many maps, there is a separated bike lane able to make your trip safer, shielded from street-racer (Knight street is a favorite spot for that), armada of container trucks barreling down Knight street and other intimidating traffic. Here we go:

    KnightBikeLaneNarrow

    If you bike can fit into the bike lane, you will have to find your way among debris and other waste, courtesy of Richmond city

    The bike lane, not much wider than a bike handle bar, is supposed to be bi-directional, and shared with pedestrian:

    Entering or exiting the bike lane, can be challenging:

    It is hard to get on the mandatory cycle track


    The bike lane is mandatory, says the sign, posted 350 meter after the beginning of the concrete barrier (in black on map): Does cyclists are really expected to jump onto the barrier?

    Some cyclists will prefer to use the roadway, but most will try to use the bike lane:

    The concrete barriers start at Richmond Bridgeport interchange-No indication provided to cyclist-to be on the right side of it, suppose to cycle on the Richmond sidewalk: that is not allowed!

    The concrete barriers start at Richmond Bridgeport interchange: to be on the right side of it, suppose to cycle on the Richmond sidewalk: that is illegal!

    • beside jumping onto the concrete barrier, the only other option is to ride illegally the Bridegport sidewalk in Richmond

    The later option is the one usually preferred by the cyclists, what tends to irate pedestrians and transit riders waiting their bus there:

    • The Bridegport sidewalk is narrow, and has bus stops

    Exiting of it, is also a bit of challenge in itself too:

    East side bike lane, merging to Knight Street in Vancouver: Welcome to the real world !- Where the handrail stands is the entrance of a trail joining 64th avenue: cyclists are discouraged to use it.

    East side bike lane, merging to Knight Street in Vancouver: Welcome to the real world (the most dangerous intersection in Canada say the medias)!- Where the handrail stands is the entrance of a trail joining 64th avenue: cyclists are discouraged to use it.

    Did you know that bike are not allowed in bus lane in BC? following the sign is both illegal (breaking with solid lane) and pretty unsafe on this exit ramp.

    Did you know that bike are not allowed in bus lane in BC? following the sign is both illegal (breaking solid lines) and pretty unsafe on this exit ramp.

    Riding along the bike lane is not a breeze either:

    KnightBikeLaneMitchellExitW

    Most cyclists fail to dismount their bike and disobey the law regarding using crosswalk (BC MVA 183.2.b ) at ramp crossing, but they still tend to stop for obvious reasons:

    narrow entrance at ramp crossing, with bumper, or kerb, are the rule on Knight Bridge

    That makes the ride much more cumbersome, and not any safer: gaining momentum from a standing position, require lot of energy, and attention, which is then not focused on traffic as the cyclist in the above picture illustrates.


    Better practice from Lyon, France:

    The example below is at the Bd Irene Joliot Curie and Bd Pheripherique Laurent Bonnevay intersection (redone when the tramway T4 has been built):

    • Cyclist are not required to stop, at each crossing, even less to dismount, what allows them to spend less time in hazardous zone, and still proceed safely:
    LyonExitRampBikeLane

    Lyon, FR: entry ramp: Motorist yields to cyclist and pedestrian - exit ramp: cyclist yields to motorist. The bike path hook, provide line of sight on incoming traffic. There is no bike path discontinuity


    In the meantime, authorities spare no money to upgrade the roadway for motorists, and cyclist have usually to cope with that:

    Sign on Knight bridge, at Mitchell Island interchange, resting in the middle of the pathway, also advertised as a bike lane.

    Sign on Knight bridge, at Mitchell Island interchange, resting in the middle of the pathway, also advertised as a bike lane.

    The sign had been placed by a City of Richmond’s contractor, and Translink took action to get it removed after got noticed of it

    Normal people will obviously give up in face of all those inconvenience (did I mention, the snow and ice on the uncleared bike path in winter?), and the “bike to work” week, will be just that: a week! It is too bad, since it is a bottleneck which deserve much greater attention that it has, and both cycling and transit can go a long way to increase the capacity of Knight Bridge to move people

    Nevertheless one can still see either

    • hardcore cyclists, all renegade breaking the law in one way or another, as seen above, and admittedly, it is the only way to cycle decently on Knight bridge
    • or eventually lost cyclists on the bridge (also breaking the law), may be mislead by some cycling maps, presenting the Knight bridge cycle tracks are the same as the Stanley park bike path!

      Cyclist, beware, don’t trust the cycling maps!

      Cyclist could be seen may be also because, taking the bus here is even a worse experience:

      The arduous trail to the Mitchell island bus stop SB: muddy in winter, dusty in summer, slippy all the time!

      The arduous trail to the Mitchell island bus stop SB: muddy in winter, dusty in summer, slippy all the time!

    That is a complement to one of our previous post:

    Bus expense and revenue per Translink region

    Bus expenses and revenue per Translink region

    Some comments on the above figure

    Property values assesment per Translink region

    Property values assesment per Translink region

    Bus boarding per Translink region

    Bus boarding per Translink region

    • The number of revenue bus hour is estimated of the above too, but the cost per revenue bus hour is estimated at $180 (instead of $116), to match the finanical information as provided by [1][3]
    Bus revenue hour per Translink region

    Bus revenue hour per Translink region


    [1] 2011 Statutory Annual Report, Translink 2011, Burnaby

    [2] We estimate that the revenue per boarding is equivalent in all region, people travelling multi zone generating more boarding that people travelling into a single zone

    [3] The discrepancy is eventually due to the fact that [1] doesn’t take account the deadend trip and other layover. Those are probably much more important in the outer suburb than in Vancouver proper. That is balanced by the fact that Vancouver region operate much articulated bus than other region. (see our previous post on it)

    The port Mann bridge/Highway 1 was promised to be costing $1.5Billion, to be financed by toll:

    • Price has skyrocketed at more than $3.3 Billion, while the government has divided per 2 the toll.
    • The project has been initiated with forecast of 150,000 averaged daily trip. The Province has quietly revised its number to 120,000 as of today [2] , which is still greater than the current traffic seen on the bridge which is free!

    It looks like the Toll revenue will not be even enough to cover the interest of the debt! [1]

    The bike lanes or lack of:

    The Province promised this [3]

    At King Edward Street, there will be bike lanes on both sides of the road, as well as a multi-user path on the west side of King Edward Street and bike lanes on the new King Edward Street Overpass connecting Lougheed Highway to United Boulevard.

    The Province delivered that:

    According to the Province, there are bike lanes on both side of this street (King Edward, connecting to the Lougheed ones

    In case of the benefit of doubt was buying Indulgence toward the Province. Pass a certain point, to believe a single word of the province require either an heavy dose of naivety or stupidity….and we can’t help on such beatitude toward the Province actions…and still…

    Transit
    The province promised this:

    The Province had promised a rapid bus along the Highway one, with a transit hub at Carvolth, and another one in the vicinity of 160st

    For the Surrey transit Hub, the Province delivered that:

    The province delivered this in the Surrey backyard – Apparently, some people there believe it is suitable for a transit hub (???)

    Thought that was happening in the Surrey backyard, Surrey transit advocates seem to have been surprised by the fact that Translink considers this HOV exit nearly useless [5]:

    • Passenger can’t safely wait on those ramps, which have no sidewalks, and no room to stop a bus without blocking the traffic
    • There is basically no decent connection with the rest of the network, no park&ride, no decent pedestrian access,…nothing

    The Surrey Mayor, Diane Watts fainted to discover the problem (?) and was quick to put the onus of it on Translink. But Surrey just pay for its beatitude toward the Provincial government. Jeff Nagel has published a email from the BC transportation ministry [4]:

    Q: Who decided not to build the park and ride/transit exchange at 156th Street?

    A: TransLink was in discussions with several partners including the provincial government, City of Surrey and private developers on an agreement for commercial and residential development in the 156th Street area; a transit exchange would have been part of this development. No agreement was reached and development plans did not materialize.

    The exchange was dependent on TransLink taking the lead position in acquiring necessary municipal and stakeholder approvals. Subsequently, TransLink intended to have the transit exchange as part of a proposed development…
    that did not proceed.

    Since that time TransLink has consulted extensively with elected officials, stakeholders and the public resulting in revisions to their plan.

    The Hwy 1 project provides ramps for transit and HOV vehicles that allows TransLink direct access to the transit/HOV lanes. We anticipate TransLink will continue improve transit services in the region.

    Q: How much money was saved by not building the transit exchange?
    A: The park and ride facility was never budgeted for, so there is no cost available.

    Q: How much did it cost to build the HOV lane at 156th Street – if there are no buses to use it, isn’t it a waste of money?

    The on-ramps provide access to HOV lanes for all vehicles that have a minimum of two people in the vehicle.
    Motorists at the 152nd Street interchange in Surrey experience extensive delays accessing Highway 1 during peak periods; the new interchange at 156th and the greater capacity of the Port Mann Bridge will ease that congestion.

    The 156th intersection cost between $25 and $30 million dollars and was a partnership between Port Mann Highway 1 project and the City of Surrey.
    It provides a new connection across the highway to serve this rapidly growing city, and will alleviate congestion at other intersections in the city.

    Q. Why does the TICorp website promote transit access via HOV lane if there isn’t going to be any transit?

    There will be transit buses using the 156th Street interchange. There will be a bus from Carvoth Park and Ride to the Surrey Central Station that will use the on-and-off HOV ramps at 156th Streets starting December 3. The #509 Walnut Grove and #590 Langley South buses access the 156 ramp.

    In short:

      A restaurant sell you a 3 courses menu, but you get only two courses. If you complain about it, the restaurant’s owner wwill direct you to the cook, because himself he never intend to deliver the menu anyway…That is what the Province says

    Every aspect of the Port Mann bridge project seems rotten from the root

    The concept of HOV lane is in itself backward – it says that a family going to vacation, is more important than timely goods delivery- that is a $3.3 Billion economic non-sense. HOV lanes make sense to optimize an existing road infrastructure, but on new one, it should be at minimum HOT lane, and more ideally a wholly tolled freeway, on the model of the Toronto’s ETR407 (where tolls are set to grant free flow).

    In any case:

    • who says HOV lanes, says car pooling.
    • who says car pooling, says car-pool parkings

    Where are those car-pool parkings?

    May be facilitated by Internet, car pooling has gained serious steam lately in Europe, and when infrastructure is not there- that is basically everywhere-, you will see most of the European freeway interchange approaches, surrounding important cities, looking like below:

    Toll freeway/high gas price encourage car pooling, But Car poolers, meeting near freeway interchanges, need room to park their cars ! (top France - left UK (M5 near Bristol), right Germany (A8 near Munich

    In fact, anarchic car pool parking has became an endemic European problem, a problem the various level of authorities address, by developing parking solution gathering the car-pooler need:

    to address car pooler need, “organized” car pool parking are currently developed about everywhere in Europe.

    Needless to say, the Province seems to not have put a single thought on how to develop car-pooling here. There is some good reason to it:

    The Province is not interested by measure able to reduce car traffic: it needs to justify a posteriori an over sized road infrastructure:

    • car pooling is discouraged
    • bare lip service is paid to transit

    What is delivered is not what has been promised by the Provincial Government…and still cost twice more than announced: Should we be surprised?


    I will eventually write a post on the bus #555: As a primer, I think the service is good, frequency seems more than appropriate, so there is little grief toward Translink on it.


    [1] see also Port Mann tolls will “pay all costs” of $3.3 billion project, Fraseropolis, Feb 24, 20112

    [2] Traffic Forecast Review, Steer Davies Gleave, September 2011

    [3] www.pmh1project.com as retrieved on November 25, 2012

    [4] No stops in Surrey for Port Mann express buses, Jeff Nagel, Surrey Leader, Nov 21, 2012.

    [5] See Civic Surrey and Skytrain for Surrey

    Buses battling with Broadway traffic – credit photo (1)

    Prologue

    The lately adopted Vancouver Transport 2040 prescripts an underground Extension of the Millennium line along the Broadway alignment to address the transportation demand on this corridor. This left still open 2 questions:

    • That probably is not coming in service before 2020 at best, What to do in the interim?
    • The subway will probably stop short of UBC (Arbutus in the most optimistic case), leaving the demand unaddressed on western section section of the corridor: how to address it?

    Translink is calling for an LRT, skytrain combination: If there is a good case to build the subway soon enough up to Arbutus as a regional priority, the case could be significantly weaker for the LRT part of the combo, especially in regard of competitive demand coming from the South of Fraser. That left the buses on Broadway, for the foreseeable future, and something need to be done now to handle the existing demand, which will only increase with the advent of the Evergreen line.

    The answer is two prongs

      Divert as much as demand on other corridors, mainly #84 and #41/#43.

      The main drawback of those solutions, is that they are not servicing central Broadway. Due to weaker demand, frequency is less attractive than on Broadway, triggering a vicious circle. A way to address it is to offer a better level of service, on at least the route 84:
      Double Decker buses are probably a solution worth to explore for this route. Beside it, real time information like on Main, can contribute to attract more rider on this line.

      A 45ft double decker, with 2 stairs and 3 doors (here a Man Lion’s City DD in Berlin) can have tremendous capacity. Its appeal can eventually help to relieve Broadway overcrowding if deployed on parallel routes like the 84 – credit photo wikipedia


      Increase capacity and efficiency of the buses

      Bigger bus is part of the answer. Double Decker could be an answer – but

      • It can be a self defeating answer due to its additional attractiveness (so such solution should be applied to relief line)
      • One of the major reliability/efficiency problem of the B line is due the dwelling time, and that is known to be a potential weakness of the Double Decker

      Longer articulated buses should be the answer. Not only longer, but with at least 4 doors per bus, since it both improves:

      • The practical capacity of the bus, by better partitioning of the load
      • The dwelling time

      Should the bus be double articulated, that is 80feet long, or not?
      A priori it is not a right step:

      • Due to frequent Local service, the 99B bus performs a significant amount of weaving, operation becoming more complex with 2 articulations
      • Proper alighting at bus stop could also be compromised by the above, affecting negatively the dwelling time
      • It can be complicate to redeploy such buses on other routes. curb space at bus stop being not the least of the problems

    A 65+ feet bus with 4 outside opening doors, and proper interior layout, can probably have 20% more practical capacity than the current 60 feet bus while overcoming the above drawback [2].

    This Man Lion’s city GXL is 67ft long, and with 4 doors, it has vastly more capacity than a 60ft bus 3 doors, like currently operated on Broadway.


    The buses presented above could not have the right to operate legally on BC roads, but it is a stroke of a pen to allow them. The Los Angeles Transit Agency, LACMTA, operates a fleet of 45 feet and 65 feet buses, showing a North American market for such bus size.

    The bus lanes
    The lack of bus lane in Vancouver is a shame:

    • Bus lanes on Main between Broadway and Hasting should be a no-brainer,
    • Bus trip on Main between Hasting and Broadway are scheduled to be between 8 and 12mn, whether it is off peak or rush hour, and there is an excess of 800 daily bus trip on this portion of main used by some of the busiest bus lines of the network, #3, #8, #19 carrying a combined 20 millions of rider/years. Needless to say, not only the lack of bus lane increases significantly the operating cost of those route, but it also imposes a tremendous economic burden to the region in term of lost time

      bus lane with traffic signal preemption – - credit photo (1)

    • Bus lanes on Broadway
    • Matters are a bit more complex due to the weaving of local and express services, requiring the use of 2 lanes of traffic by buses, but clearly there is significant room to improve the efficiency and reliability of the route. Here is What we suggest for the Cambie#Broadway intersection:

    transit priority improvement on Broadway at Cambie involving an half scramble intersection: right turn traffic proceed while pedestrian cross in diagonal. buses can move thru the intersection yielding to peds

      The problem of this intersection is the heavy pedestrian traffic conflicting with the right turning cars movement which is heavy too. This is affecting the buses. Having an extra cycle for bus only doesn’t necessarily help the pedestrian flow, which is mainly oriented NW-SE (West bound bus stop – Cambie station). Because the bus can use 2 lanes of traffic, keeping general traffic moving is important too: that means right turning car shouldn’t block the through traffic. So the proposal is an extra cycle for:

      • Right turning car only and buses, and pedestrian in diagonal only
      • to allow quick “flushing” of right turning car , pedestrian E-W crossing is red
      • right turn from Cambie shouldn’t be allowed on the extra cycle
      • Because bus go through, they could conflict with the half scramble: a yield to pedestrian rule then apply to them: A carefully designed scramble allows a 40feet bus to yield in the middle of the intersection, and still allow car following him to do a right turn
      • The next cycle is green through Broadway, to allow bus to clear intersection in case of blocked behind the scramble.

      Due to the presence of the half scramble, regular pedestrian crossing are less used, allowing greater right turn movement on all corner at all other time …eventually improving the general output flow of the intersection, and in any case improving the general output flow of Broadway.

    There is still some room to accommodate growing demand on Broadway. It could not be an excuse to not investigate longer term solutions like a subway, but the prospect of the later is not an excuse to do nothing now. Right answer is in the hand of Translink, but enabler are mainly the Province, to allow bigger bus on the road, and the City of Vancouver to allow more efficient operation on its street, this by starting by giving more consideration to buses and their rider than parked cars.


    [1] Translink’s buzzer: Building a better transit line: how location and land use make or break good transit service, august 2, 2012

    [2] see Bus capacity : some remarks , November 9, 2012

    [3] see UBC line rapid transit act 2, April 5, 2011

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