A letter to the Translink Commission

February 15, 2012


Dear Translink commissioner, Martin Crilly

you have inviting comments from the public on the proposed fare increase, and particularly on TransLink’s efficiency, hereafter are mines

prune irrelevant, because redundant and lightly used, bus route segments

In its 2005 Vancouver Transit area plan, Translink has identified several of those segments, noticeably in the Hasting corridor, and emitted recommendation on shortening of some route (like #3-Main and #20-Victoria), while consolidating others (like #16-Renfrew and #4-Powell). Those recommendation able to save significant operating cost haven’t been followed [1]. We suggest they should [2]

Optimize route exploitation

  • bus stop
  • Usually, bus stop are very closely spaced, and it is probable that Translink operation could be improved by increasing the bus stop spacing pretty often not greater than 250m in Vancouver. We note that in 2005 Translink has advised against a 99B stop at Fraser with good rational. Nevertheless this bus stop slowing the 99B operation has been implemented…

  • schedule and interval management
  • We suggest that Translink explores an “interval” based operation management (maintain frequency interval between buses) rather than a “schedule” based one (maintained bus run on posted schedule) on certain very frequent route [3]

  • Deviation of grid routing
  • Some bus routes are doing some detours (example route 49 at Champlain Mall): not only they increase the route operating cost, but they are a significant inconvenience slowing down the majority of rider. We recommend that Translink reviews those grid routing deviation which could have been justified at one time, but could not be anymore.

  • bus lane and traffic signal preemption
  • It is our understanding that those device are under municipality control, which could have been reluctant to give up on parking revenue to improve bus route reliability, but it could be certainly helpful whether Translink could come with some strong recommendation on it (like cost to not do it).

Implement Express bus to address crowding

Translink communicates on “bus hours”, a measure certainly meaningful to the operator but not to the customer, for which a level of service could be better expressed in “bus kms”.

  • A bus going twice faster could look like less “bus hour”, but it will provide the same service, and even better to the customer, while being cheaper to operate

We suggest that on some route, already offering a frequent service all day, and used as a regional connector;like the route 410 (New Westminster-Richmond); Translink addresses crowding not by adding more “slow” bus, but by doubling it by an express route [4].

On planning in general

Suburban bus routes’s productivity are usually very low, and that is largely due to urban planning choice of the concerned municipalities. It could be certainly useful to have Translink to evaluate and communicate the cost of serving current and proposed development in the suburbs, this toward a better efficiency of the system able to better preserve the interest of the taxpayer and liveability of the region.

On the fare increase

Should we understand it is necessary to compensate the revenue shortcoming of the Golden ears bridge? I have no specific opinion on it, beside the fact that I think the above suggestion should be implemented first, and secondly it is important to keep the system in state of good repair, and to address overcrowding.

Thank you for yours consideration on these matters,

Yours Sincerely

[1] route #3 has been shortened in 2005, but reexetended to downtown on December 29th 2008 (source cptdb.ca, see also Buzzer, December 5th, 2008, Translink

[2] See our route shortening suggestions proposal which me measure as able to save to Translink around 1% of total bus operating cost

[3] See some explanation in this post

[4] See our 410 express proposal


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