BC Transit launches first RapidBus route serving Victoria

Apr 12 2023, 10:44 pm

For decades, Metro Vancouver’s public transit system operated by TransLink offered B-Line services, and more recently the upgraded B-Line service called the RapidBus was introduced.

As of this past Monday, BC Transit is operating the Victoria region’s first RapidBus service, running between the BC legislature in downtown Victoria and the West Shore in Langford.

This frequent, faster bus route is called Line 95 or the Blink RapidBus, which replaces the previous No. 50 Langford/Downtown local bus with increased capacity and frequency, and fewer stops.

Line 95 runs every seven to eight minutes during peak travel times, at least every 15 minutes between 7 am and 10 pm on weekdays and Saturdays, and also at least every 15 minutes between 8 am and 10 pm on Sundays. Its frequencies are lower in the early morning and late evening.

Compared to the previous No. 50, this represents a 12% increase in service on weekdays, 8% increase on Saturdays, and 18% on Sundays.

The new RapidBus service also takes advantage of the bus-priority lanes recently installed along Douglas Street and the Trans Canada Highway, which reduces bus travel times by 20 minutes during peak periods.

bc transit victoria line 95 blink rapidbus map

Route map for Line 95 Blink RapidBus between downtown Victoria and the West Shore. (BC Transit)

blink rapidbus victoria bus shelter

Artistic rendering of a special, larger bus shelter for Blink RapidBus services in Victoria. (BC Transit)

While TransLink has provided its RapidBus services with a green-coloured branding, BC Transit’s Blink RapidBus’ colour scheme is orange. This includes orange-coloured signs, and over time the installation of special, larger RapidBus-branded bus shelters along the route.

“BC Transit’s new RapidBus service on Highway 1 means people travelling between the growing Westshore communities and downtown Victoria will have better, more frequent bus service,” said Rob Fleming, the BC minister of transportation and infrastructure, in a statement.

According to BC Transit, the corridor that Line 95 serves carries the most ridership on Victoria’s regional public transit system, with 10,000 boardings per day.

More than a decade ago, BC Transit conceptualized a street-level light rail transit (LRT) system running on this same corridor between downtown Victoria and the West Shore. Over time, the RapidBus service could help build up ridership to support superior rapid transit.

Future additional RapidBus routes will reach BC Ferries’ Swartz Bay terminal and the University of Victoria campus.

“I’m hopeful that the excitement and momentum around the new Blink West Shore-Downtown line will help us work towards more rapid transit service to connect people to places they want to go in and around the South Island,” said Maja Tait the chair of the Victoria Regional Transit Commission.

According to BC Transit, 44 new buses were added to its Victoria system in late 2022, including 15 30-ft-long, medium-duty, Vicinity Classic compressed natural gas (CNG) buses with a capacity for 24 seated passengers, and 20 standing passengers, 40-ft standard New Flyer Xcelsior CNG buses with a capacity for 35 seated passengers and 46 standing passengers, and eight Alexander Dennis Enviro 500 double-decker buses carrying 80 seated passengers and 24 standing passengers.

All buses in the latest batch of arrivals, carrying a total cost of $34.5 million, are equipped with passenger USB ports, bike racks, white LED destination signs, and bus driver barriers.

The use of CNG buses is part of BC Transit’s strategy to lower emissions, as they are comparatively cleaner than diesel buses. BC Transit now has 101 CNG buses for the Victoria system.

Proterra electric battery bus

Example of a Proterra electric-battery bus. (Proterra)

In Summer 2023, BC Transit’s first 10 electric-battery buses for the Victoria system will arrive, marking the start of BC Transit’s long-term transition to an entirely battery fleet by 2040.

While TransLink selected Quebec-based NovaBus, a division of Volvo, for its incoming new batch of electric-battery buses, BC Transit has selected California-based Proterra.

Installation is currently underway on Proterra-supplied equipment and infrastructure to support their vehicles, including 10 charging dispenses, power distribution equipment, and one overhead charger for high-speed charging and testing. Proterra’s contract for the provision of electric-battery buses and supporting equipment and infrastructure in Victoria is worth $20 million.

As many as 500 heavy-duty BC Transit buses will be replaced over the next 10 years, when they reach the end of their lifespan, including the introduction of electric-battery, double-decker buses.

Kenneth ChanKenneth Chan

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