The Gordon’s Lanes

March 5, 2010

recently the BC government made some budget announcement concerning transportation [7] and transit observers will have noticed a shortage of funding for “number one priority” transit project when the deep unbalance between transit and road investment could call for a better equilibrium as we have already noticed…but to add insult to injury, the government is not hesitating to make up the number for transit…and the Gordon’s Lanes illustrate how.

These Gordon’s Lanes are the bus lanes announced with great fanfares (and funded at 50% by the provincial government):

  • 16$ millions for a “bus lane” on highway 7 in Pitt Meadows [1] where there is no bus route
  • 13$ millions for a “bus lane” on Highway 99 in Surrey [2] where there is only one regular bus route serviced every 15mn [3] and little congestion

Every one in Lower Mainland, with a little sense of observation, can easily think of way better transit investment [4]: If the government was serious about transit it could have easily found some investment bringing more bang for the buck!

So what is the real reason of those bus lanes?


Those Bus lanes will be also HOV one obviously!

Not that there is something wrong with it, but what is certainly wrong is to tout an investment as “transit” when the obvious reason is only to create more road capacity, which will be marginally used by public transit services if any.
Where the cynicism of government proves to be boundless is that it will fund this road investment from earmarked “transit money” [6]

.

The Gordon’s bus lanes fallacy shows how our shameless government is willing to ostensibly burn our tax money on complete useless project while it refuses to address real pressing public transit need. This strategy will accredits the idea in the general public that public transit is no more than a waste of tax payer money…
It shows that the contempt of our Government for the public transit matter is even worse that most could suspect


[7] Prime minister, premier announce 15 new projects, March 1st, 2010

[1] Governments partner to create jobs, stimulate economy- 174 B.C. infrastructure projects to be funded. Sept 24, 2009

[2] Ottawa and Victoria invest $35.4 million in B.C. transportation upgrades, March 2nd 2010, Business In Vancouver

[3] it is the bus 351, Crescent Beach, Bridgeport. route 352 and 354 are peak service only

[4] Examples of sounder investment include the Surrey 399B line (which has been ditched due to lack of funding) or improvement of the bus traffic on Highway 99 in its Richmond part : for example the Hy 99 North bound doesn’t have bus lanes south of Westminster highway, there is no queue jumper at the Bridgeport exit, used by all suburban buses connecting with Canada line, ..investment here could benefit to the existing bus route targeted by the government funding among other converging to Bridgeport station. One could also give a look at the 699B line idea to foster an attractive transit presence in our suburbs…

[5] Eventually the government will deny it (remember the HST?), but there is no doubt on the fate of under used lanes

[6] The Blog follower will have also noted that the “hydrogen bus” experiment is funded from transit “earmarked money”…

route 699B in codeshare

October 20, 2009

a look at what could be the 699 (click on the picture for full view)

Web Master - SEP_2009

Using Public transit from Ladner Exchange in Delta to Bridgeport in Richmond should be an appealing proposition. The avoiding of the congestion at the Georges Massey tunnel, coupled to the connection to the Canada line should be in essence sufficient for commuter to pay a look at it.

Unfortunately the user will certainly be puzzled by the lack of visibility on the level of service in this corridor, used by numerous routes giving only partial view of overall level of service. Furthermore, he will notice that the multiple buses along the corridor are not geared toward an high frequency oservice in the common trunk as illustrated below:

extract of translink timetable posted on September 7, 2009, from Bridgeport weekdays

601 620
1:27p
1:56p 1:57p
2:26p
2:55p 2:57p

One can easily imagine the potential for a decent frequency route, if the timetable of the 601 and 620 were better interlined…Nevertheless, this could be not sufficient to attract high ridership due to the lack of visibility of the effective frequency on the route, requiring the user to combine several timetable by himself [1]

the code shared 699 route

One solution is to introduce a new bus route, let’s call it the 699B Bridgeport-Ladner (which capitalize on the B-line branding), in code share with the 601 and 620:
code share meaning that a bus could in fact serve tow route at the same time 601 and 699 (or 620 and 699)

The advantage of the solution is to enhance the high frequency visibility able to attract new customer on the 99Hwy corridor without necessarily introducing a new bus per sei, but just a new route branding!

Suggested modified schedule to introduce a high frequency service on the Highway 99 corridor between Ladner Exchange and Bridgeport station

699 601 620
1:27p 1:27p
1:41 1:41p
1:56 1:56p
2:11
2:26 2:26p
2:41 2:41p
2:55p 2:55p

A problem could be still need to be addressed which is the bay usage at bus exchanges since the current 2 routes 601 and 620 could use different bays. For user comfort, they should either use the same bay, or an electronic sign should indicate at which bay the next #699 is departing, whether the boarding operation prevent to have the 2 routes sharing the same bay.

In order to commit to the Translink high quality service charter, the #699 needs to offer a service better than a 15mn frequency, so an additional service need to be added in off-peak hour.
It could be an addition justified by the ridership, but one will note it doesn’t involve the extension of the bus fleet since the new service could be required only off peak hour.

  • the new service could need to be introduced only when the 601 is running not better than every half hour, that translates in around 18 slots per direction between 6am and 10:30pm weekday. Assuming a 23mn route length, it translates in the addition of 838 mn of service.

Introduction at non additional Operating cost

To not introduce new operating cost in this part of the region which feature relatively low fare recovery rate, we consider the discontinuing of the bus route 404 south of Stevenson Hwy, this could result in a 940mn operating service saving. We axe the 404 extension, because

  • this route is mainly redundant with the 403 and 401 in Richmond City.
  • One raison d’etre of the route was to divert from Vancouver route people at destination of Richmond in order to maximize the seat occupancy on the maximum length of the routes 601, 620,…
    Those later routes connecting in Richmond at Bridgeport, make the raison d’etre of the 404 extension not valid anymore
  • the containment of the route 404 into Richmond could provide simpler fare control on this route (one fare zone only route)

Some riders could loose a direct route between Ladner and South Richmond, but one could consider that the effect could be mitigated

  • by the high frequency of the #699 all day long
  • All day long connection of the 401 with the 699 at Stevenson in addition of the 403. This apriori could translate in negligible operating service change, and negligible lost of service for user of the terminus at Horseshoe Way and N5 road (~150m walk from Stevenson Hwy)[2]

Rolling stock issue

In order to have a consistent service, user could expect same level of service whatever the ride on the 699. Currently the route 620 is mostly insured by urban buses D40LF or D60LF from New flyer while the route 601 is insured by Orion’s interurban bus, offering a superior ride comfort justified by the average length of the route. This discrepancy in service is not a strong impediment, since the branding of the 699 is more on the frequency, speed that on the ride experience.


[1] On the topic of service visibility and clarity, one will read the following post: paris rapid transit: the four levels of nomenclature

[2]
One issue left to be addressed: The lack of bus loop on Stevenson at highway 99 could request an extension of the route to Riverport what translate in 5mn one way, what could add a total of 700mn of operating service per day. Because it is probably the reason why the route 403 as well C93 are extended to Riverport, an alternative solution could be to implement a bus loop at the Stevenson and Highway 99 interchange, which could significantly improve the connection.