Transportation and Transit Plan 2 – Richmond Centre/Metrotown B-Line

The Mayor’s Council has put forward a vision for Regional Transportation Investments for Metro Vancouver for the next 10 years. Some of these investments will happen within the next 5 years. Others will happen between 2020 and 2025. This all depends on those living in Metro Vancouver voting Yes in the upcoming mail-in referendum/plebiscite ballot.

Here’s the second post in my project-by-project look at the Regional Transportation Investments.

Richmond Centre/Metrotown B-Line

richmond-metrotown bline map

I’ve long believed that bus routes that connect city and town centres to be one of the keys to better transportation in Metro Vancouver. This Richmond Centre/Metrotown bus route is not new. In fact, it exists today as the #430 Brighouse Station/Metrotown Station express bus. The planned B-Line would take the same route.

What makes this route key, and routes similar to it, is that it connects two major city centres in the region that are outside of Vancouver’s downtown. Richmond Centre is home to a growing high-density hub of residential towers and is already home to multiple shopping centres including Richmond Centre, Lansdowne Mall, and Aberdeen Mall. Metrotown is Burnaby’s downtown and is continuing to punch glass and concrete into the sky with multiple high rise projects on the go. Also, Metropolis at Metrotown is British Columbia’s largest shopping centre.

The route connects residential/commercial centres to one another where a rail connection may not be feasible. This particular route also allows for the residents of the Killarney and Fraserview neighbourhoods in Vancouver quick and convenient access to Richmond Centre or Metrotown. The route running along Bridgeport Road in Richmond also gives access to the big box shops there. The biggest of these big boxes would be the expanded Ikea at Knight St and Bridgeport Rd.

The current #430 runs every 20-30 minutes depending on the time of day. Even by TransLink’s Frequent Transit Network criteria, this is not a frequent bus. If the #430 were upgraded to a B-Line, we could expect almost all day service with at least 15 minute frequency. It will give a more reliable alternative to get to Metrotown and Richmond Centre for travellers along the length of the route.

The one big Achille’s Heel of this route, though, is the Knight Street Bridge. Traffic along the Knight Street Bridge snarls up badly whenever there is an accident. And there are many traffic incidents on this bridge. The other thing is the ironically poor afternoon rush hour traffic coming out of Richmond into Vancouver. TransLink does have full control over the Knight Street Bridge. It is foreseeable that TransLink could work some sort of traffic control that would favour transit, but there isn’t currently much room to do that. There would need to be major modifications to the Knight Street Bridge to create bus-only onramps and other such transit priority measures.

The Richmond Centre/Metrotown B-Line is planned to be one of earlier projects to be completed if a Yes vote wins the transportation and transit referendum/plebiscite. This B-Line addition to our transit system would cost $3.1 million in start up costs and cost $1.7 million to operate.

The ballots will be sent out by March 16, 2015 and residents of Metro Vancouver will have until May 29, 2015 to mail in their votes. Voting YES for a 0.5% increase in the provincial sales tax will cost the average household only a 1-2 hundred dollars a year, but it will provide financial stability for a great variety of transportation projects that will transform Metro Vancouver. A YES vote will benefit your mobility and my mobility in the region. Please vote Yes to better transportation. 

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3 comments

  1. This is a bad idea. 1. For somebody going from Richmond Centre to Metrotown they’re much better off taking the Canada Line and changing at Langara for the 49 to Metrotown. Canada Line frequency: 7 minutes, 49: peak 10 mins. 2. How many people realistically need to get from one mall to another? Or even Richmond to Burnaby? (again existing bus routes already serve this purpose) 3. Would you shop for furniture at Ikea and bring it on the bus? 4. Frequency is not justified for a route that is not high in demand. They need to justify B-line routes that will attract NEW ridership or meet demands that have outgrown current capacity.

    So what’s a new route that Richmondites desperately need? A direct bus link from UBC to Richmond. The 480 sucks because it forces me to take the Canada line, which is an extra connection. For me, living near No. 1 road, it takes me roughly 80-90 (2 connections, one to city centre, then Canada line, then one any of the UBC buses) to get to school, which can be rather unpredictable. One missed connection and the whole trip takes even longer. Connections also mean you can’t sleep for the entire trip. In comparison, driving takes a mere20-30 minutes from house to UBC. The extra connections are such a pain because the bus system forces me to go EAST first when my final destination is WEST of my starting point. An express bus going along Marine, through Sea Island to No. 1 would mean one quick trip, a godsend I’m sure to many transit students. Even a bus that runs every half hour during rush hour will be packed, no doubt, and it will free up the insane congestion on the Canada Line during rush hour as well as the 99 and other buses to UBC. Creating new routes is the way to go to improve the system.

    For regular transit users (and potential regular users) frequency is not a huge issue because they work their schedule around transit schedules. (The 99 and other lines is not a frequency problem, it’s an overcapacity problem which I agree should be solved with rapid transit). If I need to get somewhere I’ll plan my bus schedule, and if I always have to get somewhere at the same time everyday, there is no need to rely on bus frequency. You leave the house when the bus is coming. Essentially, most regular transit users don’t wait too long for their (initial) bus. Therefore, what would be more productive is creating new lines that reduce travel time and reduce the number of connections. Those reductions will be the deciding factor for encouraging ridership.

    1. Tim Bit: Thanks for taking the time to leave such a detailed comment. It’s much appreciated.

      The Richmond/Metrotown B-Line is not a bad idea in my opinion. It connects town centre to town centre. You may not ever plan on travelling to Metrotown from Richmond, but somebody does. I know one person who regularly takes the current #430 once a month to meet up with friends and family at Metrotown. For sure, there are alternatives like Canada Line to Langara and then take the 49 across. And why wouldn’t somebody who lives in Richmond want to be able to commute directly to their job in Burnaby. Makes sense to me. If I had the boarding counts for the current #430, I would be able to give a more convincing account for the need of a B-Line between Richmond and Burnaby.

      The beauty of a direct bus, though, is in fact exactly what you are looking for in your commute to UBC. A direct bus means you can just get on the bus and forget. You can sleep if you want to. You don’t have to worry about connections. So I’m surprised you don’t like the direct Richmond to Metrotown route because it’s the kind of route that reduces connections.

      As for Ikea, when I lived in Toronto, I frequented the North York Ikea by subway. Obviously I’m not gonna carry my furniture onto transit, but I absolutely got them to deliver my stuff. That’s not going to be a large number of the passengers on a Richmond/Metrotown route, though. Don’t forget there are many office parks in Richmond and the line passes by (albeit quite a few blocks away) many of them. Part of the reason traffic out of Richmond is worse than out of Richmond is because every one who works in an office park must drive.

      Part of the idea of the frequency is to not have to look at the bus schedule. I travel mostly in Vancouver and I rarely have to know what time the bus is coming because it is coming soon. I can’t remember the last time I looked at a bus schedule for an inner Vancouver bus route. I just get up and go when I want. You were also talking about connections. The connections would be less painful with more frequent service. Part of your complaint is how long you must wait if you miss your connection.

      The regular bus riders you are referring to are only rush hour riders. Yes, they know their schedules very well and go to the bus when needed. Midday riders are, however, at the mercy of an infrequent schedule.

  2. Why is this not a subway ? Buses are stuck in traffic, too, and not an enticement for car drivers to switch modes.

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