Another September and another round of bus improvements to “try” and keep up with demand. Now that Langara College is on the U-Pass program, expect heavy, heavy ridership along 49th Avenue to be absolutely crazy. It was already crazy without U-Pass; imagine with U-Pass.
Labour Day marks the traditional end of summer vacation, and for commuters in Metro Vancouver, the day after Labour Day brings the annual rush onto the transit systems. This year, higher gasoline prices and increased concern about sustainability and reducing one’s “carbon footprint” are expected to add to the challenge, and TransLink and its family of companies are meeting that challenge with the largest ever quarterly service increase. Sept. 2 will see 80,000 hours added to bus service alone.
I don’t know about you, but I find the number 80,000 hours of bus service to be a rather ethereal number. What does that really translate into? I think they must have decided to use this number to awe the public with a big number. I’d like to see how many routes are now 15 minutes or better in frequency. That will be more meaningful to me.
I’d love to comment on increases across the region, but I only know the Vancouver service the best. Although, I used to take the #130 Metrotown Station/Kootenay Loop/Capilano University bus frequently many years ago. It looks like the Willingdon Avenue portion will be part of the Frequent Transit Network, which is defined as, I believe, 15 minutes or better between buses. A good thing for BCIT students. Hopefully, the buses can clear the awful congestion around Canada Way and Willingdon in good time.
I’ve already talked about the new #33 UBC/29th Avenue Station bus in a previous post. There is also another UBC bus called the #C19 UBC/Alma. All the “C” buses are Community Shuttles. I must admit that I still haven’t ridden one of these buses yet, so I have no idea how comfortable or convenient these buses are. However, just reading the news release, I already have one quibble.
Also making its début September 2 will be the C19 UBC / Alma. This is the return of bus service to the Spanish Banks area, which had been discontinued in 2001 due to financial constraints. The C19 will operate once an hour between 6 am and 7 pm, Monday to Friday.
I’m not even sure it’s worth having service once an hour. I guess having a bus in your area is better than not having a bus, especially if it saves you from walking up to 4th Avenue from the Spanish Banks area. It’s a pretty long walk. I’ve tried it before. But I’m sure if I just missed the bus from the hostel down there, I would walk up to 4th Ave in way less than one hour.
When Community Shuttles first came out, I thought they would operate on low-ridership routes with frequent service. As it stands, they run on low-ridership routes with poor frequency. I guess I was envisioning Minibuses from Hong Kong that fit 16 people and run every 10 minutes or so, and leave a terminus once the bus is full. Maybe it just goes to show that we don’t have the population to support such a service, or the planners-that-be are very conservative in setting up these smaller routes.
TransLink’s Main Street Showcase takes another step forward September 2, with the #3 Main, which has been partially served by 60-foot articulated trolley buses, making the switch to full service by the giant newcomers to the fleet. These buses are equipped with Traffic Signal Priority (TSP), in which green lights are “held” so that buses can go through intersections safely and maintain reliability and travel time along the corridor.
The #3 Main announcement is not a new route, but the route will now be fully serviced by the articulated trolley buses. Imagine a B-Line bus powered by trolley lines. A pleasant surprise in the past year is seeing these buses on #20 Victoria route. If you’ve ever seen the line ups for the #20 at Broadway and Commercial, you can appreciate why they need these long buses on that route. These new articulated trolleys have definitely made the ride more comfortable on Main Street.