Good changes at Translink

October 14, 2015

In a transit plebiscite post-morten post, we were asserting that Translink needs to be much more aggressive in the optimization of its transit network, by going beyond shuffling bus around, and more noticeabily we suggested that:

  • A generalized bus stop consolidation policy needs to be initiated
  • costly detour, like the Champlain Height diversion on the route 49, need to be discontinued…

We are hence delighted by the scope and magnitude of the proposed changes by Translink. The thrust of it is converging toward a geometrically more efficient transit network, allowing to build a sound foundation upon which expand service. Here a quick review of some changes.

Moving toward the B-line paradigm
by retaining the main important feature of it; limited stop bus route:

  • route 135 is already a B-line, if not in name
  • high frequency leads to bus bunching on route 41: redeploying some of those buses in favor of the express route 43, will enable to offer more along 41st at no cost, while not necessarily decreasing the “useful frequency” of the current route 41
  • the idea to keep long haul buses (White Rock – King George station) serving all stop while short haul buses (96 Newton-King George) have limited bus stop, was an error. The introduction of limited bus stop along the 394 allows to correct this error: one will also notice this route goes directly to King George (the introduction of a LRT between King George and Newton could then be detrimental to White Rock)
  • the discontinuation of route 258, allows the consolidation of all downtown-UBC trip on a more legible route 44 (a clear candidate for a B-line title)

Other interesting changes of note are the revamping of bus routes around strong anchors.

bus routes tied directly to strong Anchors

  • bus 257 going directly to the Horshoe bay ferry terminal, instead of wandering in the Horseshoe bay village: Translink seems to have well learned of the private and successfull Bowen express bus initiative: the ferry terminal is the real reason d’etre of those services – It is up to the concerned municipality to capitalize on it by, for example, developing a cycling infrastructure to make those express routes more accessible to the local population.
  • The rerouting of the bus 509 from Surrey Central to Lougheed, is also providing people from Walnut Grove more accessible regional destination, more noticeabily, by providing acess to both Expo && Millenium line (including the Evergreen line extension) in a single transfer. It also contributes to relieve the King George branch of the Expo line, enabling a better use of the existing skytrain infrastructure.
  • the removal of the costly Champlain heigh diversion on the route 49 participates of this focus on building a strong network, with direct bus route linking strong anchors. We are glad to see Translink not giving up in face of the strong hostility of the Vancouver council to efficent transit.

The downtown case

The promotor of the new Vancouver Art Gallery, preserve transit service on Canbie street

The promotor of the new Vancouver Art Gallery, preserve transit service on Canbie street

The fate of the bus on Robson square is still open:

As outcome of the downtown bus service review initiated in 2013, TransLink does recommend the City to consider maintaining transit service through any future public plazas: that includes Robson and Cambie. Something we have long advocated for to preserve a legible and efficient transit network. The Translink conclusions don’t surprise us, and the proposed new route for bus 5 and 6 fit roughly in our analysis. The new layout of buses along Hasting/Powell seems also a step in the right direction.

Porch parade, was separating people on Robson square by a wall in 2015... Something a bus passing every 7mn or so, couldn't achieve.

Porch parade, was separating people on Robson square by a wall in 2015…
Something a bus passing every 7mn or so, couldn’t achieve.

As many, we have also noticed the failure of Viva to activate Robson square in despite of tremendous efforts. The 2015 choice, Porch parade, erecting a wall separating people rather than bringing them together, was not necessarily an happy one, but we have noticed a steady and inexorable decline in the attractivity of Robson square pre-dating the Porch parade experience. It is not surprising that the downtown BIA is now calling to restore good Transit access along Robson [1], which also would prefer to see the city move its attention on the North side plaza of the VAG. We are hence hoping reason will prevail at the Vancouver city council: It will then endorse the Translink recommendations.

And Change beyond Translink
In our post morten blog, we have underlined that the transit response to the lost Plebisicite must be two prones:

  • Rationalization of the Transit operations and network is one of them. Translink responded present (and in this blog, there is still  many other suggestions , such as the prunning of route 3 and 8…showing there is still room for improvement).
  • measures able to improve Transit efficiency, speed and reliability is another response under control of the municipalities

We commend the efforts of slow street toward the introduction of permanent bus lanes on Georgia street, but so far we have heard little more than politician rhetoric of our municipal leaders.

[1] Robson Street pedestrian space loses admirers, Kevin Griffin, VancouverSun, Agust 27th, 2015

9 Responses to “Good changes at Translink”

  1. Brendan Dawe Says:

    It should be noted that the 135 is only b-line like west of Kootenay Loop. In Burnaby it provides local service along Hastings, which they propose to substitute with restructured 160 service

  2. Rico Says:

    Great post, thanks

  3. Josh Says:

    Why do you say that LRT would be detrimental to White Rock after the 394 changes?

    • Voony Says:

      because, the LRT stopping a Newton, they could loose a direct connection to the Skytrain (at King George), with no tangible benefits such as a shorter journey.

      • Josh Says:

        I agree, and I do not support LRT.

        However, I don’t see how the changes to the 394 will affect that. What is the difference between the current route and the proposed route in regards to LRT introduction? (Or do your comments regarding that have no bearing on the changes to the route?)

  4. Rico Says:


    All things being equal (exclusive/non exclusive Right of Way) travel time for the 394 on King George would be the same as LRT on King George…so the only thing that would change for 394 riders is they would have a transfer to LRT at a time penalty dependant on the frequency of the 394 and LRT. In theory this would be offset by lower operating costs on the LRT, but since the King George line is only forecast to have 2,000 people per hour per direction this is probably not the case…A business case could probably be made for the other LRT lines (even though the RRT option plus bus would have a better return on investment) but King George will be tough.

    • Josh Says:

      And I get that, I was wondering why, with LRT, the proposed changes would make the 394 *worse* than the current 394 route. As far as I can see, current route + LRT vs. proposed route + LRT are nearly equal.

      After a re-read before I posted my 2nd comment, I now believe that this comment was unrelated to the 394 route changes: “(the introduction of a LRT between Hing George and Newton could then be detrimental to White Rock)”

    • Voony Says:

      yes. However, by making the 394 is a limited bus stop service, (or a pre B line), they will make the switch to an LRT much less appealing than previously…

      I am aware that many feature of a LRT (reserved Transit lane, signal priority, limited bus stop) would apply to a bus too.
      So in theory the change on 394 doesn’t change the LRT case,…but we could have been in a paradigm where the bus service is made deliberately poor to politically “magnify” the advantage of the LRT.

  5. […] a previous post, we have already largely endorsed the last October 2015 Transit optimization proposals. We are […]

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