The scramble intersection has been officially opened with much fanfare on November 15th, by Mayor Malcolm Brodie [3]

The pedestrian scramble sit at Moncton and Number 1 intersection, in Steveston

But, the real story is not so much the pedestrian scramble than the new traffic light which will have certainly consummed the bulk of the $600,000 budget allocated to this intersection “improvement[1].

The good

  • It is a raised intersection, usually signalling to the motorist it is entering in a pedestrian oriented environment
  • The treatment of the crosswalks and bollards shows careful attention intended to rise the profile of this intersection

Good attention has been given to some details. Notice the ropes as the main theme for the treatment of the improvments

The Bad

  • Not much consideration has been given to Wheelchairs and strollers, and the implementation of the traffic signals impedes seriously their movement on the sidewalk
  • The opportunity to improve the pedestrian experience, this by installing bulges, narrowing the roadway has not been taken.
  • When come the signal to reduce the motorist "confusion", all the good intentions are lost, and here it is basically not really possible for a wheelchair to stay on the sidewalk (left picture). The pedestrian realm could have extended on the parking lane (using a bulge): it didn't (right)

    The real story
    Before the traffic light, and its adjoined pedestrian scramble, it was a 4 ways stop:

    • both pedestrian and vehicular traffic could become fairly heavy in some summers week-end, but nothing comparable to what we can witness in Granville Island at anytime.
    • And like in Granville Island, most of the vehicular traffic is generated by parking lookers, and so most of the traffic is turning either right or left at the intersection…

    The consequence of the last observation is that right and left turn traffic can be impeded by the pedestrian traffic…The Richmond traffic engineers will have found, that blocking all pedestrians movement during vehicular movement was the best thing to do…and here is the rational for the scramble.

    It is sold to the public as follow: The previous configuration (4 ways stop), where politeness’rules applied (i.e. like in Granville island), was judged “confusing” by the Richmond traffic engineers [1].


    If you believe that the lack of rules for pedestrian is creating congestion in Granville and makes it unsafe, you will cheer for the Richmond’s “traffic improvement” as a step in the right direction.

    …On the other side, if you believe in the shared space concept followed by a growing number of European towns, noticeably because “When you don’t exactly know who has right of way, you tend to seek eye contact with other road users” and “You automatically reduce your speed, you have contact with other people and you take greater care[2], you will eventualy consider that the roadwork at Number 1 and Moncton, is much closer to a 600K waste than an improvement…

    [1] No.1 Road and Moncton Street Intersection and Surrounding pedestrian crosswalk improvments Victor Wei, Transportation department, April 21, 2011, Richmond CA. Notice that this lst reference states that “based on the pedestrians and vehicles traffic volumes, a a traffic signal is warranted at this intersection” without substanciating those “volumes”. A reference is done to a mysterious study (Stevenson Village Traffic and parking improvement, Victor Wei, Transportation department, August 31, 2009) which didn’t provide any substance either.
    Pedestrian Crosswalk Improvement Project, Communication from Richmond CityHall, 2011.

    [2]European Towns Remove Traffic Signs to Make Streets Safer, Deutsche Welle, August 27, 2006

    [3] Beside numerous news report, there is generally a strong advocacy for scramble interest in some circle, like at vpsn, and, eventually via spacing Vancouver, you will find some opinion in the Vancouver Openfile blog (which in our viewpoint is misleaded by the fact it seems to fail to make the difference between Yonge and Dundas in Toronto center and the “Steveston village” context in Richmond) or InSteveston and a more critical appreciation by a Richmond’s blogger



    The Richmond picture

    Thought number date of 2000, there are still good enough to illustrate the market potential for Transit in Richmond. a city characterized by a high ratio job/population source. (1)

    Translink, had drafted a transit area plan in 2000 for Richmond [1] and most of the ideas proposed in this plan have been implemented in the subsequent years. As mentioned in a previous post, the advent of the Canada line has left relatively untouched the local transit network in Richmond, even when some route, touted as express, like the 430 are now slower than other options using the Canada line. The short cutting of the 480 (terminus at Bridgeport instead of Brighouse) is the only noticeable exception.

    here after is some proposed improvements, which are budget neutral from a revenue operating hours perspective

    A suggested new bus network for Richmond

    To summarize

    • 401: no change
    • 402, ~90 runs are extended to Knight Bridge: that is a 50% service improvement on the 407
    • It allows a service every 30mn, instead of every hour midday, which more than compensate the lost of route 430. the route 402 is preferred to route 407, because it doesn’t need to make a detour to serve Brighouse

    • 403 terminate at Steveston instead of Riverport
    • That is part of a terminus swapping with route 407. It also apriori allows 403 to travel denser part of Steveston Hwy, making better usage of its high frequency along this corridor.

    • 404, ~40 runs are extended to the airport
    • 405, Terminate at Brighouse instead of Knight Bridge (could be transformed in shuttle route)
    • 407, Terminate at Landsowne instead of Knight Bridge and start at Steveston instead of Riverport
    • The route followed by 407 along Westminster Hwy allows it to connect with all other local routes, as well as route 301,411 so it doesn’t need to loop at Brighouse. We then prefer Landsowne since it increases the transit covered area.

    • 410, Along Railway to Moncton, instead of Garypoint
    • C92, no change
    • C93, no change
    • C94, no change
    • C96, Knight Bridge, Number 5, Cambie East, Number 6, Brighouse
    • So doing, the route C96 can offer a quick access to Number 6 road from Brighouse (10mn instead, of 23mn by the 410 or current C96) and able to contribute to relieve more efficiently the 410 (in association with the redesigned route 301 and 411).

    Some general principle leading the change

    Local Hub vs Regional Hub

    Most, if not all, of the Local Bus routes should be connected to a regional hub

    Richmond presents some challenges since we have to compose with a

    • An international hub, the airport
    • A regional hub, Bridgeport
    • A local hub, Brighouse

    To ensure a good connectivity between the regional and local hub, you would like merge the both, but that is also done at the expense of a good local inter-connectivity which occur in the center of Richmond. That said, a good connectivity of the local network with the regional one can be achieved by capitalizing on secondary hubs:

    Riverside hub

    A good connectivity of the local network with the regional one can be achieved by connecting as much as possible local route with the Hwy99 bus stop at Steveston: that is Riverside, a new hub Richmond has to capitalize on. It motivates the connection of route 401,404,405 407 and C93 to this hub

    Notice that the current Steveston interchange design doesn’t allow the buses to U turn. The loop at RiverPort costs 4mn returns, which can amount to a significant expense (30hrs if all the route named terminate at RiverPort instead of Riverside) so some roadwork improvements could be required here.

    Knight bridge hub

    At this time, it connects Richmond with Vancouver routes 22 and 100. The connectivity could be much better by extending Fraser route 8 and Victoria route 20 to Knight Bridge, but that involves numerous challenge, so at this time it is a secondary hub in waiting to be developed.

    A Grid oriented network
    For each major axis, one bus route.

  • Cambie is mainly serviced by route 410, but a significant portion of the corridor is also cuurently serviced by routes 405 and C96
  • While Route 405 connects Cambie with Knight Bridge, we can consider it is not the most efficient way to provide the connection due to the high level of redundancy between route 405 and 410 on Cambie, both going to Brighouse. The idea is to suppress the route 405 north of Brighouse – that translate in a saving estimated at 31hrs. The redesigned routes 301 and 411 addresses potential crowding problem on current route 410. A revamped C96 addresses the connectivity issue between the Cambie area, and more generally North Richmond and Knight Bridge.

  • Railway is mainly serviced by route 410…but not south of Williams where it is then by the C93
  • South of Williams, route 410 made a detour to service the residences at Garypoint. One has to consider that the cost of this detour by the very frequent route 410 has become prohibitive in regard of the served market. Also, so doing, the route 410 avoids the recently developed and now much more populous area along Moncton street, between Railway and route Number 1. That is the reason why we prefer to keep The route 410 along Railway down to Moncton- that translates in a saving of 7hrs. A slightly less frequent bus, 403, can still serve Garypoint.

  • Garden city (North of Westminster Hwy) is mainly serviced by the bus 407.
  • The useless detour to the disused Sexsmith Park&Ride is suppressed, the corridor is then serviced by route 402 for reasons previously stated

  • Bridgeport mainly serviced by the bus 407
  • The service on this corridor is pretty poor, with a bus 407 per hour most of the day, this in despite of an high job density along a corridor anchored by Bridgeport station. This corridor is serviced by route 402 for reasons previously stated. the detour along Vulcan becomes the main route, this to allow a connection with the route 630 (Ladner-Metrotown).

  • Westminster Hwy mainly serviced by “no” bus East of Number 3
  • That is kind of odd, since it is a main axis in Richmond. It becomes serviced by route 405 and 407.

  • Steveston Hwy
  • Today, it is partially serviced. East West travel along it is not really possible due to a “missing link” between number 3 and Gilbert. C93 along Williams provides the East-West connector in South Richmond. A swapping of terminus, between routes 403 and 407, provides a Transit continuity for people traveling along Steveston Hwy, and could call for a reduction of the C93 service if necessary, if not the complete discontinuing of this route. The swapping makes the route 407 a bit longer (+1mn per run), but the route 403 a bit shorter (-1mn per run): because the route 407 is less frequent that the route 403, it results in a total net operating saving.

    Connecting the local and regional Center of Interest

  • The Airport
  • It is one of the major weakness of the current local network: Richmonites can’t easily access the airport, a major source of employment for locals. To correct it, some runs of the route 404 are extended to the airport. One could have considered extending route 301 or 411 could have been more judicious since airport is also a regional destination, but here the route addresses also a local market (Bukerville access).

  • The Hospital
  • It is best serviced by route 407, this route hence is redesigned to serve primarily high density residential area, and so, loop in Richmond downtown to connect. Other route like 401 and an extended route 404 provide also good service to the hospital

  • North Richmond businesses park (Crestwood)
  • They are not well connected to Bridgeport, either the service is very poor like on Bridgeport, or requires 2 transfer from Bridgeport to access the Cambie corridor, which is oddly enough almost better connected to Knight bridge. Especially for the Bridgeport corridor, there is an untapped customer pool, which can be enticed by a better service, that is a bus route every 30mn all the day at minimum along Bridgeport

    The suppression of Cambie with a direct connection to Knight Bridge (405), is compensated by a revamped route C96 which service is increased to match the one of the current 405 – that supposes the adding of 8:30 hours service. We estimate that the high frequency of the route 410 along Cambie make the transfer less painfull here than elsewhere

    At the end, a better servicing of North Richmond motivates a rerouting of the 301 on Westminster Hwy (instead of Alderbridge)- this because it uses the exit of Hwy 91 at road number 6 (3mn per run, or 3hrs per day)- in order to connect it with local route C96 and 410. (proposed bus 411 follow same route)

  • Steveston
  • This area is very well connected to Brighouse, with a bus every 2-3mn in peak hours, but does this high level of service is visible to the transit rider?

    Nope… and that illustrates the problem already raised with the 699B: it is more often a lack of visibility of the level of service that a lack of service itself people will complain of, and in Steveston it is storytelling:

    4 bus routes connect it to Brighouse. That translates in 4 different bus stops in different directions along Chatham: here there is lot of room for improvement. A single bus stop -on the model of Marine Drive loop- is the obvious first step. A better location than Chatham for the bus terminus is the second step…

    The tabulation of operating hour transfer is given below

    route runs hours removed hrs added hrs
    401 181 123:21
    402 138 52:56 45
    403 184 114:33 3:00
    404 100 50:41 15:00
    405 69 51:44 31:00
    407 106 71:23 30:00 1:46
    410 200 211:51 7:00
    430 78 64:23 64:23
    C92 68 16:59
    C93 62 28:31
    C94 48 11:25
    C96 41 17:53 8:30
    630 78 64:23
  • Notice that route 699B, and 411 have been previously discussed
  • Political acceptance

    Modifying a bus network is always gonna to hurt some sensibilities, and the few riders affected by a bus change will always be more vocal than the more numerous new customers. That has been verified by the pruning of route 601 at Bridgeport, but it is not something undo-able.

    The Lyon transit agency in France did it this year, and one could argue that the budget neutral network reorganization is something sensible to do in time of fiscal restraint.

    • It helps the public to accept that not anything can be done and some thought choice need to be done
    • It helps also to prepare the network for future growth

    In the example, above, the efficiency found on some route like 410, are in direct relationship with bus frequency:
    The more frequent is the bus route, the more relevant is the route reorganization, but the more complex it becomes since the more customer habit it can hurt, so it is better to be done sooner than later.

    [1] Richmond Area Transit Plan Summary Report, Translink, September 2000


    August 30, 2010

    Steveston can offer a bucolic retreat, step of the city, easily accessible by bus from Richmond brighouse (like pretty frequent 410)

    some warehouse asking for restoration on the south dike. the beefs you can see pasturing when on the west dike, come from the Steves farm

    But the main reason to come there will be to stroll and shop on its fishermen wharf, which can be pretty busy when fish is announced as abundant like in this season for the sockeye.

    To be sure it is not Sai Kung next to Hong Kong, but it is probably the best place in BC, where to buy fish directly from the boat, or for that matter to be able to buy local sea-food in a BC fishing community, what can be very challenging, when not possible, legally, at all, in other BC fishing localities.

    Apparently, disregarding the catch of the day, the Vancouverite will like to head here to enjoy a fish and chips. Nevertheless, the Steveston food scene has matured a bit in the recent years and you will be able to find some more decent food proposition, like at the Tapenade restaurant which could be to the fish and chip, what the DB bistro is to the hamburger. In the meantimes, local learn happily how to make the best use of their resource what is certainly promising for the future of the community.

    Richmond’s Mayor Malcolm Brodie learn from Tojo‘s nephew and aid, how to prepare local sea food at a cooking demonstration during the wild bc sea food fest.

    But there is still some strange things in Stevenson. the urban landscape, while showing historic potential, seems to be under exploited and the pedestrian seems to be object of little if any consideration. Indeed, in some instance sidewalk, right in front of the fishermen wharf can be lacking. That is not inviting to stay a bit longer, to explore other streets.

    The streetscape could be significantly more friendly, for the good of the community. Bayview street at the fishermen wharf could be more inviting to ‘soft mode’, like pedestrian and cyclist, using maybe a more shared streetscape.

    the transit rider will arrive via the depressing Chatham street. Used mostly as a parking lot, this street present no interest : folk will head quickly south toward the riverside, and will be relieved to find Moncton street enroute, which seems to do fairly well, thanks to having a critical mass and combination of keys business, and looking more a rural “main street”. but it is still not as appealing as it should be

    Asphalt has became the dominant element of Moncton street: may be narrower lanes to the benefit of more comfortable sidewalk and tree lining could improve the street experience, in addition to provide some traffic calming….also burying the electric wires could help. (credit photo

    that being said, Saturday was a good day for Steveston, and not only for fishermen.

    May be, synonym of “bohemian sophistication”, Steveston has a real baker at RomaniaBread, making probably one of the best bread around (he bakes real pain de campagne what is pretty rare to find, especially good one which can last several days). he got a good day.