TransLink's launch of 3 new B-Line routes officially delayed until 2020

May 29 2019, 6:00 pm

Transit riders across Metro Vancouver will have to wait a few more months to be able to use three new B-Line rapid bus routes.

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TransLink had originally planned to launch all of the new services in Fall 2019, coinciding with the seasonal bus schedule changes.

The new B-Line routes are along 41st Avenue in Vancouver (from UBC to Joyce-Collingwood Station), Marine Drive on the North Shore (from Phibbs Exchange to Park Royal), and Lougheed Highway (from Coquitlam Central Station to Maple Ridge).

However, in an email to Daily Hive, TransLink confirmed a decision has been made to push the launch date of the routes to January 2020.

With only three months to go until the September schedule changes, very few construction and installation works for the new roadway infrastructure have actually started, apart from construction on Wesbrook Mall in UBC for the 41st Avenue B-Line. Some of the roadway change plans are still in the public consultation stage.

The roadways for all three B-Line routes are slated to see extensive bus-only lanes, bus queue jumpers, and curbside and intersection changes. These measures are deemed necessary to increase speed and reliability and lower travel times, which effectively increases ridership and decreases the public transit authority’s operating costs.

As another measure of a superior, high-frequency bus service, dozens of special bus shelters with real-time, next-bus digital screens for every single new B-Line stop have yet to be installed.

“The launch date has extended due to permitting and construction timelines,” reads the email, with TransLink coordinating these improvement projects with seven different municipal governments across the region.

A previous governance report in March 2019 highlighted only the possibility that the new service launch dates could be pushed to mid-November 2019, early-January 2020, or other dates in 2020.

“Initial constructability assessments indicate that not all of the required works are likely to complete by September 2019,” reads the report.

“Furthermore, the construction market is currently very busy, and there is uncertainty about how many potential bidders will have the capacity to take this work on this year. TransLink staff will review implementation timing based on how the market responds to the request for proposals.”

Procurement for private contractors to complete the street construction projects began in March.

The North Shore B-Line will have a significantly lower construction cost than originally planned, as the District of West Vancouver, in response to public opposition, decided to have the bus route terminate at Park Royal instead of continuing further west to the Ambleside and Dundarave areas.

“Any unused service hours, fleet, and infrastructure funds would be reinvested into the B-Line program to address existing unfunded B-Line priorities identified through the approved Investment Decision Framework,” stated the report on the matter of the North Shore B-Line.

A fourth B-Line route along Fraser Highway was cancelled after the City of Surrey and TransLink’s Mayors’ Council approved an expedited planning process for the Fraser Highway SkyTrain extension. Infrastructure funds towards this B-Line will instead go towards improving the existing 96 B-Line serving the same route as the cancelled Surrey Newton-Guildford LRT.

The three new routes will use a newly-arrived fleet of 47 articulated, three-door buses.

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