Another transit policy wonk post here. In an earlier post, I looked at a bar graph talking about the Cost per Boarded Passenger by Sub-Region. It helped to illustrate which sub-regions were the most and least cost-efficient. Here’s another handy graphic from the 2014 TransLink Bus Performance Review [PDF] showing what makes for cost-efficient bus routes.
All, but 2, of the routes on the top performing routes are in Vancouver. Vancouver’s grid system lends itself easily to direct and linear routes that transit like. Because most of the businesses and major institutions are lined along major streets, then there are key destinations the whole way that provide strong demand. 5 of the top performing routes terminate at the University of British Columbia with an estimated 30,000 potential riders.
The other 2 routes in the top ten are the 106 Metrotown to New Westminster route in Burnaby and the 315 Newton to Scott Road Station route through North Delta. The #106 travels along Kingsway in Burnaby which carries most of east-west traffic in South Burnaby. It is a mostly linear route and parallels the SkyTrain, but serves where most of the communities have built up historically in Burnaby. The #315 serves busy Scott Road in North Delta. There’s a lot of malls and shops in the area. Newton is in Surrey, but is home to the Newton Wave Pool and is a considered an important town centre in Surrey.
The poor performing routes are mostly circuitous routes in more far-flung areas of Metro Vancouver. 9 of the routes in the graphic above are labelled with a “C.” These are the smaller Community Shuttles. It would be expected that such routes be served by smaller buses because a lesser demand and indirect routing. 2 of the routes are night buses. Night buses run every half hour between the hours of 2:00am and 3:30am. Ridership is expected to be minimal at these times of night.
The other two routes are the #259 Lions Bay to Horseshoe Bay route and the #606 Ladner Ring bus. The 259 serves tiny Lions Bay and only runs during peak hours. Most people living in Lions Bay likely drive most of the time. The 606 only runs in the afternoon peak hours and is a short circular bus that serves tiny Ladner town. These buses are serving very small populace and explain why they end up on the poor performers list.
In light of the recent No vote to the Metro Vancouver Transportation and Transit Tax, then TransLink will have to tighten up efficiency even more. I can see that the top performing routes will get more resources while the poor performing routes will have their resources reduced.