Before and after the 99B line

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 original B line Logo – credit flikr user: mag3737

It is the first time Broadway has an uninterrupted service from Boundary to UBC, and service extendining on Lougheed Hwy up to Lougheed.

      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 [2]

.

1998: Full deployment in the fall

The bus b8025, in its original B line livery.

The bus b8025, in its original B line livery. The 99B route featured Low floor buses which were a novelty in 98 in Vancouver. the special livery was also new and came unspoiled by advertising. buses were coming with a bike rack what was also new – This bus (b8025) was part of a second order to face increased demand) credit photo Peter MacLaughlin, 2000

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 [2]. 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 [5], as a demonstration project: Besides it, the 99B line never benefited of any BRT like fixed infrasrtucture

2002 and after: the Skytrain Millenium 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
    • 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:
  • 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
Transit service along the Broadway corridor

Broadway99Broadway10 Transit service along the Broadway corridor, in 1995, 1999 and 2010

Ridership evolution

year daily ridership
Oct 1996 8,500 [2]
Nov 1996 10,000 [2]
1998 16,000 (*) [7]
1999 20,000 [7]
2002 26,000 [7]
2007 45,000 [8]
2011 54,350 [9]

(*) The Original BC Transit estimate was 12,000 [2]

The line is extremely busy, with long line up before boarding at several stop, as Commercial pictured here. People line-up on 3 queues (one per door).

The line is extremely busy, with long line up before boarding at several stops, as Commercial WB pictured here. People line-up on 3 queues (one per door) – credit photo Vancotybuzz

Some reasons for the success

It is worth to notice a great emphasis on the marketing side, and its technical limitation [6] :

  • 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 time gain is especially consequent (up to 40% time gain)
  • 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 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

At the time of the introduction of the 98B, the B line logo has changed, and Translink color are blue and yellow (instead of red and blue, former BC transit color)


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


[1] The Buzzer, BC Transit 1987 Aug 28

[2] The Buzzer, BC Transit 1996 Nov 29

[3] The Buzzer, BC Transit, 1998 Aug, 21

[5] TCRP Program report 65: Evaluation of Bus Bulbs, National Academy press, Washington D.C., 2001

[6] Vancouver’s BLine Experience, Jeffrey Busby, TRB Annual Meeting 13 January 2013.

[7] 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

[8] “Planning of Vancouver’s Transit Network with an Operations-Based Model“, Ian Fisher, May 1 2009, Translink

[9] “Bus System Performance Review”. May 31, 2012 – Translink

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3 Responses to “Before and after the 99B line”

  1. Stephen Rees Says:

    You wrote “In 2003, the Province introduce the U-Pass”

    I must respectfully disagree. The province had no role in the U-Pass negotiation which was conducted by Translink staff and the UBC staff plus the students’ society. Negotiations were protracted but driven by the university’s desire to reduce car use to the campus – and the consequent need for more parking.

    For several years there was an impasse over pricing until Translink staff devised the “no loss of revenue” stipulation.

    Unfortunately this was far too readily accepted by all concerned with insufficient attention paid to costs. Uptake of the new pass far exceeded expectations, immediately putting great pressure on inadequate services – not just along Broadway but across the system. No additional revenue meant that the only way to provide additional service to UBC was to cannibalize service elsewhere. A pattern that has been steadily repeated ver since as UPass has been extended to other institutions.


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