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 seat.km 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 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.
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 , 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.
 Robson Street pedestrian space loses admirers, Kevin Griffin, VancouverSun, Agust 27th, 2015