Transit planners are considering implementing bus-only lanes — one lane in each direction — along a stretch of Joyce Street between Kingsway and SkyTrain’s Joyce-Collingwood Station to help boost the speed and reliability of the new 41st Avenue B-Line.
According to the City of Vancouver, the proposed bus-only lanes would be in effect 24/7, and they are needed as this span of Joyce Street is particularly narrow, with just two regular travel lanes and the curb lanes used as streetside parking. To make space for the bus-only lanes, streetside parking on this span of the street would be removed.
Additionally, a queue jumper bus lane is envisioned for Joyce Street’s northbound direction just south of Kingsway, which would allow buses to bypass queued vehicles at the intersection.
TransLink data indicates this section of Joyce Street, the easternmost segment of the existing No. 41 bus route, which ends at Joyce-Collingwood Station, experiences some of the slowest average speeds for vehicles along the entire 12.3-km-long 41st Avenue transit corridor to UBC.
Vehicles need to yield to buses switching between the travel lane and parking to pick up passengers, while buses are delayed in single-lane traffic.
City staff say bus-only lanes are effective, citing a recent one-hour extension of bus-only lanes on Hastings Street, benefiting both the existing 95 B-Line and local bus routes running between Seymour Street and Kootenay Loop. After the extension to 7 pm instead of 6 pm, average bus journey times during this hour went down from 21 minutes to 18 minutes.
Elsewhere along the route, there are also plans to redesign a portion of 41st Avenue through Kerrisdale, including a more efficient design for 41st Avenue’s intersections at West Boulevard and East Boulevard.
The most significant street changes and improvements are coming to the westernmost end of the route at UBC, where Westbrook Mall between West 16th Avenue and UBC Exchange will be fully rebuilt with new bus-only lanes, new intersections, pedestrian crossings, and public realm upgrades. Construction on the Westbrook Mall redesign is already well underway.
41st Avenue B-Line bus stops will be spaced about one kilometre apart using new articulated buses and all-door boarding. Bus frequencies will be very high, with buses running every three to six minutes in peak times and every eight to 10 minutes during non-peak. It will operate daily from 6 am to 1 am.
Each bus stop will have a special B-Line shelter with digital signage showing arrival times.
Currently, this same future B-Line route is served by bus routes No. 41 and No. 43 Express, and both routes carry over 10 million riders combined annually.
With over 26,500 daily boardings, the No. 41 is the second busiest bus route in Metro Vancouver, just behind the 99 B-Line, but it makes frequent stops and has a slow average speed of 21 km/h.
The No. 43 has a slightly higher average speed of 24 km/h, but it runs less frequently, only operates on weekdays with service ending at 9 pm, and sees less ridership of 6,400 boardings daily as a result.
When the 41st Avenue B-Line is launched, the No. 43 express will be cancelled and No. 41 will use trolley buses and run less frequently between Joyce-Collingwood Station and Crown Street — instead of its current western terminus at UBC.
UBC’s Wesbrook Village will be served by a rerouted No. 49 with more capacity than today’s No. 41.
Overall, the 41st Avenue B-Line will provide 33% more capacity than existing services and reduce waiting times by 50% compared to the existing No. 43. End-to-end travel times of between 45 and 60 minutes during the busy peak periods are projected.
However, not all of the street changes and improvements on 41st Avenue will be made in time for the launch. It is anticipated some of the measures will be implemented in 2020.
TransLink plans to launch all three new B-Line routes this fall, with the other two routes serving the North Shore between Park Royal and Phibbs Exchange, and Lougheed Highway between Coquitlam Central Station and Maple Ridge.