The number of B-Line rapid bus routes in Metro Vancouver will more than double by the end of 2019.
TransLink CEO Kevin Desmond announced today that plans are moving forward to introduce four additional rapid bus routes serving different areas of the region:
Altogether, the four new routes create a total of 64 km of new B-Line service.
These limited-stop, high-frequency bus routes will provide service every 10 minutes or better during peak periods and 15 minutes or better during off-peak hours. All routes will operate at least 18 hours each day.
Mayor of Port Coquitlam Greg Moore called these new B-Line services a “game changer” for the communities it will serve.
“As a bus rider, I can tell you that if you don’t have to memorize a bus schedule because a bus is going to come every five, seven or eight minutes, it makes using transit that much more useable for everyone,” said Moore during today’s press conference. “You just show up at the bus stop, and you know the bus is going to come. And if you just miss it, you know you’re okay as there is another one right behind it.”
“We are going to start seeing a big transition from people having the ability to get out of their cars and take transit. Right now in many of these outlying communities, there just isn’t an ability because of the frequency and length of the time it takes to have an efficient, quick competition to the car. This will be the change that is required.”
At the same time, TransLink is experiencing consecutive record ridership growth, with transit usage up by 5.8% over the previous year in 2017.
To operate these new B-Line routes, 58 articulated buses are being added to the bus fleet.
“The B-Line program is absolutely essential to our multi-modal future,” said Desmond. “There is much pent up demand and that is why we’re rolling out these services now. We need to do this to accommodate the growth in our region and relief congestion.”
The new B-Line routes are part of the Mayors’ Council’s Phase One transit expansion, which was approved in late-2016.
The first new route, the 95 B-Line, was launched in December 2016 as an upgrade of the No. 135. It runs along Hastings Street between Burrard Station in downtown Vancouver and the Simon Fraser University campus atop Burnaby Mountain.
Of course, the 99 B-Line between UBC and Broadway is the busiest bus route in Canada and the United States, with over 61,000 average weekday boardings. This single bus route sees more passengers than all other bus routes in Ladner, South Delta, Tsawwassen, Maple Ridge, Pitt Meadows, and the Northeast Sector combined.
The region’s other existing B-Line is the 96 running between Guildford, Whalley, and Newton via King Georgia Boulevard and 104th Avenue, which follows the same route of the proposed Surrey light rail transit line. According to the public transit authority, ridership on the 96 has increased by 77% on weekdays and 105% on weekends since it launched in 2013.
Over the past two decades, B-Line routes have been the precursor to new rail rapid transit lines.
For instance, the Millennium Line replaced a long section of the 99 B-Line that used to run beyond Commercial-Broadway and all the way to Lougheed Town Centre, and the recent Evergreen extension of the Millennium Line replaced the 97 B-Line from Lougheed Town Centre to Coquitlam Centre.
And the Canada Line was also the replacement for the 98 B-Line that operated on Granville Street between Waterfront Station and Richmond Centre.
“These are the preludes to rail in the future. These are where you build up the ridership and densities along those corridors, so when you look into the future when you convert from a B-Line bus because it’s at capacity or overcapacity, the next place to go is to build rail so that you can increase the capacity more.”
“In places like Port Coquitlam, Maple Ridge, and the North Shore where we want to see rail eventually, this is that first phase into getting there.”
Over the longer term, TransLink is also studying the feasibility of running a B-Line route between Metrotown Station and Richmond City Centre.