TransLink to remove more bus stops each year to speed up buses

Apr 12 2021, 10:57 pm

TransLink says it is pushing forward with the practice of “bus stop balancing” on more routes on an annual basis after receiving highly positive passenger feedback on the pilot project on the No. 2 Macdonald/Downtown bus route.

This pilot project removed bus stops spaced too close together in an effort to speed up and improve the reliability of the buses.

According to the transit authority, 86% of passengers on the route reported they were able to use their existing stop and had a faster, more reliable trip. Even though 14% of passengers saw their stops removed, the nearest alternative was typically a short walk away — about one city block’s distance.

Prior to the pilot project, just 16% of the stops on the No. 2 were within TransLink’s spacing standards for a local conventional route, but after the changes 52% of the stops were within the guidelines. Some closely spaced stops were retained on a case-to-case basis, and based on initial feedback a pair of stops were reinstated.

Roundtrip travel times improved by five minutes since September 2020 on average, and up to 10 minutes during the busiest times of the day, and buses spent 2.5 to four minutes less dwelling at stops. Nearly a third of the dwell time reductions at stops was due to removing the mid-route timing point.

“Wider stop spacing improved reliability. The slowest trips of the day demonstrated the greatest improvements,” reads a report.

“TransLink mitigates unpredictable travel time by adding padding to the schedule. More reliable travel time allows us to write shorter, more efficient schedules. Likewise, customers must often start their journeys early to account for unpredictable travel times. More reliable travel time allows customers to plan their transit trips more accurately.”

TransLink states it is now planning to continue removing stops on bus routes across the region at a pace of four to eight routes each year, beginning with the routes that are busiest and would see the most benefit from changes.

Earlier this month, the No. 25 UBC/Brentwood Station and No. 17 Oak/Downtown routes underwent stop removals on a pilot project basis, with about 15% and 20% of the stops removed, respectively.

The operating cost savings are estimated to reach up to $3.5 million annually by reducing the number of buses needed on sped-up, high frequency routes. Reducing travel times by 12 to 15 seconds per bus stop removed would result in about $140,000 in annual savings per bus per route.

The transit authority says it will help fund the municipal cost of the work needed to relocate existing shelters from closed stops to other bus stops. It is expected that the operating cost reductions will allow TransLink to recoup the cost of shelter relocations in about one year.

In the future for some bus stop balancing projects, TransLink says it will translate signs in neighbourhoods where 25% or more residents speak a language other than English at home.

Kenneth ChanKenneth Chan

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