The Tri-Cities will lose the 97 B-Line just before Christmas, as the rapid bus service will be replaced with the Evergreen extension of SkyTrain’s Millennium Line.
However, the good news for the region is that it will gain a new B-Line service linking Simon Fraser University’s downtown Vancouver campus with the Burnaby Mountain campus via Hastings Street.
TransLink will commence operations of the 95 B-Line rapid bus service beginning on December 19, replacing the existing 135 bus that runs on the same route.
Long 60-foot articulated buses from the 97 B-Line will be redistributed to the 96 B-Line in Surrey, the 43 Joyce station/UBC, the new 143 Burquitlam Station/SFU route, and the new 95 B-Line to increase the capacity on these high-traffic routes.
The main improvement the new and improved 95 service will offer will be reliability, not a reduced travel time, by reducing the 135’s number of stops from 36 to just 16.
According to the public transit authority’s Trip Planner, estimated travel times for the 135 and 95 are the same at just under one hour during the weekday morning rush hour period.
“It won’t necessarily be faster, but we’re confident it will be more reliable which has been the biggest challenge along the Hastings Street corridor,” Chris Bryan, a spokesperson for TransLink, told Daily Hive. “The 95 B-Line will provide a more reliable and direct service with limited stops along Hastings Street.”
Buses will spend less time pulling in and out of bus stops to pick up and drop off passengers, especially east of Boundary Road. The number of bus stops and the distances between the stops is in line with the other B-Line services found in the region.
“By moving to limited stops, we anticipate that our customers will notice significant improvements to the reliability of this service,” he continued. “In addition to moving to limited stop service, there will be a few extra trips during the AM peak to reduce overcrowding.”
Bus delays along Hastings Street also revolve around issues with the arterial route being highly congested, especially during peak hours. There is currently a peak-direction HOV lane along the route that helps increase reliability, but for the time being no other infrastructural changes to the route are planned.
“We’re always working with municipalities to explore measures such as bus priority opportunities such as bulges, signal priority and queue-jumping lanes,” he continued. “We’re always seeking the right tools for the specific context. “Upgrading existing B-Line corridors is something that we’re going to be looking at over the next few years.”
The latest TransLink Transit Service Performance Review indicates the 135 was one of the worst buses in the region for reliability, ranking 187 out of 208 routes for on-time performance in 2015. It is the ninth busiest bus route in the region with an average of 20,000 riders per weekday, the fifth busiest for peak passenger load, and the fifth worst for bus bunching. Overall, it is TransLink’s sixth most crowded bus route.
Under the Mayors’ Council recently approved Phase 1 plan, TransLink is aiming to start four other new B-Line routes by 2019: 41st Avenue B-Line in Vancouver (likely an upgrade of the 43); Fraser Highway B-Line from Surrey City Centre to Langley; Lougheed Highway B-Line from Coquitlam Central Station to Pitt Meadows and Maple Ridge; and a North Shore B-Line along Marine Drive and Main Street from Dundarave and Park Royal in West Vancouver to Lower Lonsdale and Lower Lynn in North Vancouver.