October 25, 2014
September 22, 2014
The first round of segregated bike tracks has essentially concerned non essential transit corridors (Dunsmuir, Hornby…), but it is natural for cyclists to expect similar bike facilities on the Main arterial of the city, where shopping destination are located. Not surprisingly some groups are making pressure toward it. That should be an opportunity for the various municipal candidates to offer their vision and their differentiators on a complex problem which will require significant trade-off, and priority setting. Since transit has been much neglicted by the current council, the prospect of bike lane along transit corridors become a matter of concerns for Transit advocates
Below is an exert of the “Commercial Drive Campaign” by “Streets for Everyone” :
The main strength of this proposal is that it exists and provides a basis for discusssion. It also highlight the reason of our concerns in regard of Vancouver bike lanes: They obey to a disturbing sense of priorities:
- “Our plan leaves parking intact on both sides of the street”
…The same sense of priorities which could have lead to pave Kitsilano park to save street parking. Here there is no park, but there is the very important transit route 20, which is neglicted: It is nevertheless called a “win-win-win” proposal by some bike lanes advocates for the reasons below:
|Pedestrians||Cyclists||Transit Users||Car Users||Emergency Vehicles|
This layout, where the bus can be hold back by left and right turning cars, as well as the occasional parking car, is obviously very detrimental to Transit:
- On could expect the average speed of the bus 20, actually ~ 14km/h, to slow down to the one of the bus 5 or 6 (lower than 9km/h), which face similar street configuration (single traffic lane + parking lane). Speed is an issue, reliability is another one.
Such a slow down can have a dramatic impact
- On the attractivity of Transit, defeating a purpose of a street calming effort (get more people to choose alternative mode to car)
- On the operating cost of the line. so such proposal can be in be fact very costly .
It is hence very important to find a compromise which not only is not detrimental to Transit but can also be an opportunity to improve it:
Thought Commercial Drive is relatively narrow (80feet), it is possible to find an arrangement which improve the bike experience as well as the Transit experience:
The width of the all purpose lanes is what can be seen on most of the Vancouver residential street, such as 6th avenue (#Commerical),
- It is enough to preserve a parking lane, but that means drivers must be willing to “share the street” and negociate with other drivers, as illustrated in the above rendering, on some uncommon but possible traffic case involing large vehicles
- Traffic lane are ~3m wide, not unlike the traffic lanes on Number 3 road in Richmond (North of Westminster Hwy)
- The bus lane on the parking lane side is “protected”, both from dooring and ill parked vehicles, while the one on the other side can be infringed (“mountable obstacle”) to allow occasional passing of large vehicle
- The Bus+bike lanes are 4.5meter wide, a parisian standard . Could it be possible to slighlty separate them, in a Dutch way (that is by having raised bike lane)? may be, but the preservation of a parking lane make the proposal difficult.
- The bus lanes morph in emergency lane when needed
- Narrow traffic lanes are a powerful device toward traffic calming
All in all:
|Pedestrians||Cyclists||Transit Users||Car Users||Emergency Vehicles|
The above is a suggestion fitting better the objective of the 2040 Vancouver transportation plan: It must certainly exist better layouts. A complete economic analysis of a street layout could be useful to determine the objective value of one layout vs another one .
This proposal, as the “Streett for everyone” one, is uncompatible with the Mayors council idea of a hierarchized (local+express) transit service on Commercial, idea proposed for the Transit referendum
“Street for every one” suggests “dutch intersections” pretty much every where:
We prefer a more traditional bike box (doubled of a “queue jumper”) on street bereft of bike lanes: A solution avoiding some unnecessary conflict, and also more friendly to pedestrians (no detour imposed around the dutch “circle”):
 Here, we mention only the Transit operating cost, which could increase in the tune of million of $ due to lack of bus priority, but Transit lack of efficiency has more generalized social cost, in term of lost time,… as suggested by George Poulos on Price Tags
 The blue car in the rendering is a Toyota Passo, it is a sub compact car, not seen in North America. We have included the same car in our rendering along other more common model seen in the Vancouver street to provide a better idea of the width of the different lanes.
 The STM is also experimenting a 4.5 meter wide bus+bike lane on Viau Street in Montreal, albeit with slightly different configuration (see “Can buses and bikes safely use the same reserved lane?, Montreal Gazette, July 14, 2014 )/p
review of the Phase 2 consultation: loop and connectivity issues
This review is eventually done in light of previous ideas exposed in those posts
- Vancouver Downtown Transit network: the local view
- Vancouver Downtown Transit network: the regional and city view
Bus 17 and C23
The new route alignment are the same as the one suggested in our previous posts, so we obviously consider them as good. In order to avoid Cambie (a street targeted for aggressive pedestrianization by the City), a byzantine alternative proposal (B2) is proposed: it induces operating costs 5 time higher than the more straightforward Cambie routing .
- That should be enough to rule out this alternative…and the closure of Cambie
Bus 4,7 and 3,8
The improvement is obvious for route 4 and 7. For route 3 and 8, there is an issue. Thought the consolidation of the both service directions on Pender (avoiding the 30km/h Hasting speed limit) improves the legibility of the routes in the DTES, it is done at the expense of the network connectivity:
- lost of direct Transfer with the Hasting buses
- bus 4,7 (and 200’s) East Bound, are also 2 block away of Pender, making the transfer poorer than today
We are of the opinion that e Main#Hasting is a major transfer point between bus 3,8 and Hasting buses (#14,#16,#20,#135), and for this reason we have some reservations on the 3 and 8 proposal.
The Robson and Davie loop
About the loop
Loop touch things deep in the human psyche. When community leaders are asked in a meeting to talk about their transit needs. it’s not uncommon for one of them to say, usually with circular hand gestures, that they need some kind of loop […]. Straight lines can seem aggressive, whereas loops offer a sense of closure […].
If your agenda in life is to to enjoy every moment and never worry about a destination, then the appeal of loops is undeniable […].
But however much we may savor every moment of life, most of us still have jobs and families. so sometimes we just need to get there. We are at point A and need to be at point B as soon as possible. The shape of that desire is not a loop. It’s a straight line.
Loops also creates some operating challenges: a disturbance (delay in Transit) introduced in a loop never disappear unless the loop is opened (think Larsen effect). What is usually done is that loops are either open (London Circle line) or operated in segments (Tram T3 in Paris). Bus loops are much more prone to disturbance that segregated railway loop.
- That is the reason of the lay-over at Davie and Denman, and all Translink loop proposals involve a second layover on Cambie
- Stay in the bus if the operator allows this during his break
- Transfer to a bus ahead in the queue at the layover
Those layovers undermine significantly the attractiveness of a loop for the transit user whose has either the choice to:
The Davie route
All options extend the Davie bus to Yaletown, then loop it back with the Robson bus via Cambie:
This shouldn’t be controversial, and respects some good Transit principles:
- We have a single bus route serving the entire Corridor
- And the route is anchored at Yaletown station
The Robson route
The L shape option
It is built up on the existing route 5, but instead to loop on itself via Richard, branches into the Davie bus via Cambie to make a “downtown loop”:
As such, beside a greater legibility (bus running both directions on all served street), this route mainly carries the same advantages/drawbacks of the current route:
- The route, is not serving Robson east of Granville, (hence not serving Yaletown when it is natural to extend the Robson route eastward)
- As we have seen before, it doesn’t make for a grid oriented network improving legibility and general accessibility
The option avoiding Robson square, is mainly the current seasonal routing. Beside the removal of the hook at Burrard and Robson, it doesn’t address most of its current shortcoming already pointed many times :
- The route is disconnected of the Granville bus corridor, and offers a back-ward connection with the Canada line
- The disconnection between Yaletwon and the Robson Strasse is even greater
All trip toward South Vancouver or Yaletwon are penalized
The Rectangular Loop
The drawback of this option? The loop is pretty insulated of the rest of the network:
- No reasonable connection with the Expo line is offered
No reasonable connection is offered with the Hasting buses too
But, the option has its advantages on the L shape loop:
- It covers all Robson street
…and more generally it offers good foundations based on sound Transit principles (a grid oriented network with one bus route per corridor), from which we can elaborate to cover the connectivities weakness of the option: That is what we have done in our previous post:
What we have proposed for routes 5 and 6
See our previous post for further explanations and interaction with other routes
We hook the Rectangular loop to Stadium Station, offering a connection with the Expo line. From there, the question is:
- Where the buses turn back and make their lay-over
As we have seen before, we extend the route up to Hasting#Main (lay over on Gore), to connect the downtown routes with the Hasting and Main route.
A consequence of this proposal, is that it introduces bus services redundancies with the Translink option C1 (routes #3 and #8 on Pender): it provides a reason to short turn those bus at the north end of Main.
Short turning of the bus 3 is something which has been done in 2008, but Translink has reverted this in face of public hostility at a time it was not as actively as now looking for better operation efficiencies. In 2014, the short turning of artics bus #3 and #8
- pay the extension of standard bus #5 and #6 on Pender
- The lost of a direct route between Fraser and Hasting, is also compensated by a better access to the Westend via route #5 and #6
- A short turning at the north end of Main preserves a good connection with the Hasting corridor
- That makes those routes otherwise very short, also more useful by enabling to circulate in an downtown extended to its neck and Chinatown, without the need to transfer 
At the exception of the proposal B2 (route #17 avoidng Cambie), the Translink option are generally a step in the good direction. Some ideas discussed in our previous post still fit and could be still valid with whatever option is proposed.
We notice, that in despite of many efforts, not only no good Transit solutions have been found to accommodate a potential closure of Robson square, but all proposed alternatives trying to accommodate such a closure end up to be tremendously expensive ($300k to $400K additional operating expense …that can buy ~2 community shuttle routes).
Who is willing to pay for it?
What the Downtown Transit review has demonstrated is that
- Closure of Cambie should be forgotten
- Closure of Robson square to Transit is simply unreasonable and irresponsible
The city council should accept that a good surface transit is a necessity, and that pedestrianization of streets should be done to complement it and not to impede it, as we have said many times before.
 Human Transit: How Clearer Thinking about Public Transit Can Enrich Our Communities and Our Lives, Jarret Walker, Island Press, 2011
 Downtown Bus Service Review – Phase 2 Technical Summary City of Vancouver and Translink, 2014
 See also Jordan’s comment at the buzzer blog
 Downtown Bus Service Review – Phase 1 Consultation Summary Report City of Vancouver and Translink, 2013
 See also the PriceTag’s circling-the-square serie as an example where a critic of the proposed seasonal route is proposed.
March 31, 2014
The below work is built upon our previous post on the regional view. However, more important that the exact route alignments are the principles driving them: Many of those principles have already been spelled , among them:
- Direct Routing
(1) Don’t divert routes to serve specific needs: Diversion means a less attractive service for most of the travelers
(2) Use secondary services connecting to main ones, to serve “out of the way” area (rather than divert main routes)
Minimize unnecessary transfers
(3) Use the downtown grid for “random schedule” transfers
Minimal walking distance to final destinations
(4) Go Straight thru the “center of gravity” of an area, and not its periphery, which increases the total walking distance by half.
As we have seen before, the most efficient coverage is achieved by 3 bus corridors.
Those bus corridors are Robson (#5), Davie (#6) and Pender (#19).
With the development of Yaletown, and more generally the Eastern side of the Downtown peninsula, it is only natural to extend both routes (5) and (6) on the eastern side of their natural corridor (resp. Robson and Davie).
Connection with the City and regional network: The waterfront station issue
From the above, it appears relatively clearly it is not possible to get both:
- A grid oriented local bus network in downtown
- And a good connection with Waterfront station
Furthermore, especially for the Davie bus, it is not possible to get both
- A good connection with The Canada Line (Yaletown)
- And a good connection with Waterfront station
We also observe that:
- Most of the connecting ridership is generated by the Expo and Canada line
- The actual connection between the Seabus and route 5 and 6 can be considered as poor
- It takes 4 mn to reach Davie by the Canada line, vs ~10mn per bus
The potential Broadway subway will enhance this trend
-360 meters between the bus 5 stop on Hasting and the Seabus deck (versus ~200 meters between thr Expo line and the Seabus)
Due to all of the above, we prefer put emphasis on both:
- A grid oriented local bus network in downtown
- And a good connection with the rail rapid transit
An emphasis on the quality of the Transfer with the Expo line
To improve the connectivity of the bus 5 and 6 with the rest of the network:
- both route 5, and 6 are extended to the north end of Denman, to connect with bus 19, and the North shore buses
- Both route 5 and 6 are extended to Main#Hasting, to connect with the Hasting and Main street buses (bus #3 and #8 being short turned at the North end of Main street).
The bus 19 can preserve a direct connection between the downtown and the Main Corridor.
This proposal has some inconveniences:
- There is dispersion of service on Beatty and Cambie
- There is no good connectivity between the local route 5 and 6 in the Yaletown area
- There is no good connection between bus 17 and bus 6 either (bus 17 is on the Cambie bridge above the Pacific bld)
The one way service on Expo and Pacific is also a drawback, but one can expect some change correcting that in the area with the re purposing of the viaducts
An emphasis on the Routes corridors
Local routes are consolidated (instead to be dispersed).
- Hasting corridor is used for City/Regional transit, while Pender street is used for local service (similarly to georgia vs Robson)
- Eastern connection is done using Cambie preventing bus dispersion, and enhancing the attractiveness of the Cambie bus corridor
- Different stop intervals could be used to speed up city service while still offering good accessibility on the Pender street
To increase the legibility of the bus network, The Pacific Boulevard is served from one end to another by a single bus line (actually served by C21 West of Yaletown, and C23 East of Yaletown)
- Placing ourselves in a “post viaduct world”, the natural extension of this route is Prior: For this reason we keep this bus On Keefer (as close as Pacific Boulevevard), bus still allowing it to connect with the Skytrain
The Gastown coverage
Nowadays, it is done by the bus 50. The proposed route doesn’t cover gastown anymore, but it could…as well as bus #5 or #6.
Gastown is in fact in the Hasting and Pender bus coverage area. A specific service to increase this coverage can be considered but is not part of the structuring network (as well as any other bus route to provide specific needs.
The bus network, and the Pedestrian street network
The City’s goal for its bus network review is to get rid of the buses on many city streets (and especially Robson Square ). Instead of taking the City approach; “decide which street to pedestrianize and let the bus find its way more or less clumsily to serve the rest of the city”; we take the opposite approach: “which streets spring as natural candidate for pedestrianization, to complement and enhance the attractiveness of the transit network?”
The Pedestrianization of some Gastown streets, starting with Water street, could be done at no expense of the bus network. It is obviously not the case of Cambie, or Robson. For the later one, a shared space arrangement based on a European model is a natural solution . Streets making good candidate for pedestrianization are
- Beatty street, already routinely closed to traffic for Canada Place event, and offering a much better potential than Cambie street (proposed by the City), and still providing direct access to the future AGO site
- Hamilton and Mainland in Yaletown
- And potentially others street in Westend like Bute
The network of bus lanes
In this probable priority order, regional route, then city corridor where bus traffic is heavy:
- Georgia street (North shore buses) should have all times bus lanes
- Hasting street
- Main street
- Burrard street
- Potentially Cambie street
Routes #5 and #6 (as well as route #19) providing mainly a local service in downtown (short trip distance, often competing with a walk), can be considered as people movers, and as such should have relatively short bus stop interval (~250m): Bus lanes for them could be great but they are not much critical, from a customer perspective:
They could be nevertheless useful to increase the reliability of the routes (in fact one of the principle advantage of a bus lane)
March 24, 2014
…and the Vancouver Canada line case. The remarks apply also to LRT unless specified (another post has been dedicated to buses
In a nutshell, the person per hou per direction capacity a subway line can offer, is
(capacity of a train) × (number of train per hour).
Like for buses, the capacity of a train is a function of different parameters, mainly person per square meter occupancy standard, and seat arrangement.
At the difference of low floor buses (and LRT), is little “protuberance” (such wheel room) on high floor train, and technical room present in a train cabin rather under floor or on roof, are often the result of a tradeoff:
train capacity vs easy maintenance
The theorcal capacity of a train, is in fact a direct function of its surface:
(length of the train) × (width of train).
…and train length, is constrained by the station’s paltforms length, which are typically very expensive to expand.
below is an example of compared train capacity, expressed in term of surface able to accomodate passengers
|Train consist||Platform length||width||surface|
|Vancouver Canada Line||40||3||120|
|Vancouver Canada Line||50||3||150|
|Vancouver Skytrain (Expo line)||80||2.65||212|
|Paris typical subway line||75||2.37||178|
For matter of comparison, the theorical Canada line capacity (with 50meters platform) is just 15% lower than on most of the parisian subway lines, such as its line 2 or 5: those lines carry ~100million riders a year.
Behind the seating layout, a train needs in practice several features to effectively reach its theorical capacity. Among them
- Minimal unusable space between cars (and in cars)
- Allow passenger to “overflow” from a car to another one
Intercirculation between cars, usually allows that, but again, some interciruclation layout can be more efficient than other:
Dwelling time and frequency
homogeneous occupancy of a train is also function of the door disposition, but the door layout affect primarily the dwelling time. Short dwelling time is important for a host of reasons, frequency being one of them, and frequency affcet the line capacity:
interval between train can’t be shorter than the station dwelling time
It is hence important to have as much as possible doors, but also have them wide enough, to allow good in/out flow movement. It is also important to avoid that some doors, slow down the boarding/alighting time because they have to handle more traffic flow:
- From a boarding viewpoint, where passengers have no apriori on the location of door on platform, the best way to do that, is to have all the doors equidistant (It make also the best use of the platform space)
- From an alighting perspective, all doors on a car should be equidistant
A single track, vs a double track, at the end of a line could be used as a cost saving measure, but obviously it affects the freqeuncy of a train line. That said, if the single track portion is short enough, the impact can be relatively minimal.
- Frequency can be be obtained by using a tail track to store trains
The possible frequency is then:
((time to travel for and back the single track) + (dwelling time × number of train to be stored) ) / (number of train stored).
As an example, at Richmond Brighouse station, on the Vancouver’s Canada line
- the tail track past the station can accomodate one stored train , and the station another one
- the travel time between Lansdowne and Brighouse is ~90s and a typical station dwelling time ~20s
2 trains can run every 4mn on the Richmond Brighouse branch of the Canada line.
Because one train can run every 4mn on the Airport line, it is possible to get a train every 80s, or 45 trains per hour, on the common trunk (Bridgeport-Waterfront)
Even, with 40meters long train, the Canada line could provides a caapcity of ~15,000pphpd, assuming 330 passengers per train: that is 3 times of the actual capacity. Greater frequency are theorically possible with the introduction of short turn train (avoiding the single track section):
PS The above numbers for the Canada line, assume the availability of rolling stock, power supply, track signalling, and fast operating switch: All those could need to be upgraded, as well as the stations along the line to handle the corresponding increase in ridership, but it could be no need for heavy civil engineering work/track reconfigutation toward a capacity increase of 15,000+ pphd
 Addressing Canada Line capacity questions, Translink, June 3, 2010.