TransLink begins construction on $33-million road upgrade for R6 Scott Road RapidBus in Surrey and Delta

Apr 15 2023, 12:36 am

Metro Vancouver is set to gain its sixth RapidBus route, providing the growing South of Fraser sub-region with its second high-frequency, limited-stop, express bus service.

In addition to being a frequent express service, TransLink’s R6 Scott Road RapidBus will feature some of the most extensive bus-priority street redesign measures yet for any bus service in this region.

The R6 will have a 12-km-long, L-shaped route running along Scott Road and 72 Avenue between SkyTrain Scott Road Station and Newton bus exchange, serving both Delta and Surrey.

Construction began today on a $33 million project of road design changes along the route to help speed up buses, and better ensure their reliability, including nine km of bus-only lanes from largely repurposing an existing vehicle lane where there are currently three vehicle lanes in the same direction, and narrowing existing vehicle lanes and medians to make space for a new bus-only lane.

Other street design changes entail queue jumpers, upgrading bus stops with features such as real-time next bus digital displays, adding a bus layover parking lot at Newton bus exchange, and providing new landscaping for some sites, such as additional trees, shrubs, or other greenery on the sides of the road or in the median.

At least one vehicle lane will be maintained in each direction during construction, while the final redesigned streets will have a configuration of at least two vehicle lanes in each direction.

translink r6 scott road rapidbus route map surrey delta

Route and stop map for the R6 Scott Road RapidBus. (TransLink)

The reconstructed roadways will reach completion in late 2023, enabling the launch of the R6 service in early 2024. During the planning process, TransLink had previously anticipated a start of service by late 2023.

The bus-priority measures will improve bus travel times by up to 10 minutes in each direction.

Currently, Scott Road is the region’s sixth worst corridor in terms of person-delay, with buses running on the corridor accounting for 24% to 42% of the people moving on the corridor, but only 1% to 2% of all vehicles on the corridor.

“I’ve had the first hand experience of seeing how the R3 RapidBus along Lougheed Highway has sped up service for residents in my community of Port Coquitlam over the past three years. With limited stops, dedicated bus lanes, all-door boarding, and larger buses, RapidBus is the best bus service we have in this region right now, and it is a game changer,” said Brad West, the chair of TransLink’s Mayors’ Council and the Mayor of Port Coquitlam.

George Harvie, the Mayor of Delta and the chair of the board of directors for Metro Vancouver Regional District, added: “It’ll make it easier for commuters to get where they want to go, and most importantly get them out of their cars. People South of the Fraser want to get out of their cars, and now we’ve got a great project that’s going to assist them in doing that.”

scott road 72 avenue

Existing condition of Scott Road near the interchange with 72 Avenue, next to Strawberry Hill Shopping Centre. (Google Earth)

r6 scott road rapid bus 72 avenue interchange

Artistic rendering of the bus-priority road design changes for Scott Road near the interchange with 72 Avenue, next to Strawberry Hill Shopping Centre. (TransLink)

According to TransLink, Scott Road is the busiest bus corridor in the South of Fraser with over 30,000 bus boardings each weekday.

The existing No. 319 bus service operates on the exact same route along Scott Road and 72 Avenue between Surrey Central Station and Newton bus exchange, and it will be retained as a local bus service with reduced frequencies. The No. 319 will also benefit from the new bus-priority measures, such as its use of the bus-only lanes.

The No. 319 is one of Metro Vancouver’s busiest and fastest growing bus routes. In pre-pandemic 2019, it was TransLink’s seventh busiest bus route with 7.47 million annual boardings, including averages of 23,000 boardings per weekday, 17,000 per Saturday, and 13,400 per Sunday/holiday — up from 4.27 million in 2015, with averages of 13,600 on weekdays, 8,600 on Saturdays, and 7,200 on Sundays/holidays. Based on the most recent breakdown of bus ridership statistics, in Fall 2021, the No. 319 is TransLink’s fifth busiest bus route, with averages of 14,000 boardings per weekday, 11,000 on Saturdays, and 10,000 on Sundays/holidays.

During today’s press conference, TransLink CEO Kevin Quinn said “demand for transit South of the Fraser is bursting at the seams.”

“While transit ridership in most other place in North America is struggling to bounce back, ridership South of the Fraser has not only bounced back, but has surpassed pre-pandemic levels.”

translink r6 rapidbus kevin quinn f

TransLink CEO Kevin Quinn during the R6 Scott Road RapidBus press conference on April 14, 2023. (TransLink)

As of late 2022, ridership in Surrey Central, Surrey North, and Surrey Fleetwood recovered to 101%, 87%, and 87%, respectively, of pre-pandemic levels, representing the strongest ridership recovery in the region. The next highest areas were Vancouver Southeast, Burnaby North, and Richmond-Sea Island & East, which each saw a recovery of 79%.

There are now about 14,000 more transit trips in the South of Fraser compared to 2019, representing an increase of about 10%.

The R6 is TransLink’s single largest bus service expansion in three years, adding to the previous 12% increase in bus services in the South of Fraser since 2020 — more than any other sub-region.

“Transit ridership recovery south of the Fraser is leading the rest of Metro Vancouver and honestly, leading North America,” added Quinn.

“Since the pandemic began, we have continuously invested in Surrey, Delta, Langley, and White Rock, more than anywhere else in the region, because this is where we have continuously seen the most customers return to transit.”

TransLink’s Transport 2050 10-year priorities identify the R6 as a possible candidate for future additional bus-priority measure upgrades for its conversion into one of the public transit authority’s new Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) routes.

Mayor Harvie noted his municipal government has received many development applications for the Delta side of Scott Road in anticipation of significantly upgraded public transit services that will allow for transit-oriented development.

Under the 10-year priorities between 2025 and 2035, in addition to the existing B-Line and RapidBus routes, TransLink will introduce up to 11 new additional RapidBus routes, create seven new limited-stop Express bus lines serving long-haul trips within Metro Vancouver and reaching the Sea-to-Sky Corridor and the Fraser Valley, andĀ up to nine new Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) routes.

This includes a potential southward route extension of the existing R1 King George Boulevard RapidBus beyond its existing terminus in Newton to reach White Rock, as well as the possibility of upgrading the R1 to the BRT standard.

Planning has also been underway for years to launch a new RapidBus route between SkyTrain Richmond-Brighouse Station and SkyTrain Metrotown StationĀ via East 49th Avenue, Knight Street Bridge, and Bridgeport Road. Such a route has also been identified as a potential BRT service.

TransLink launched its first five RapidBus routes in early 2020, including the conversion of the previous 95 B-Line and 96 B-Line services.

translink rapidbus network 2024 map

Map of all RapidBus routes in Metro Vancouver by early 2024, with the new R6 Scott Road RapidBus route highlighted in red. The existing 99 B-Line is not shown. (TransLink)

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