The largest single new infusion of high-capacity, fast, arterial bus routes in Metro Vancouver’s history is set for January 6, 2020.
TransLink has confirmed the launch date of four RapidBus routes, following months of construction to alter streets for the new express bus routes, which are an upgraded standard of the long-standing B-Line brand with new passenger amenities and in-street bus priority measures.
- See also:
All four routes will operate frequently from early morning to late night, using an exclusive new fleet of blue- and green-coloured articulated buses and an all-door boarding system.
Each RapidBus stop is outfitted with new tall, green-coloured posts to provide RapidBus with the distinction of a superior bus service, as well as useful route wayfinding information and a real-time next bus digital countdown display that shows the arrival times of the next buses. The battery-powered quartz display will be visible at night from its backlighting.
The public transit authority has indicated the new services will add 65,000 annual bus service hours, providing a capacity increase of 20,000 people each weekday.
Here is a complete rundown of the routes:
R4 41st Avenue
The R4 running between the UBC main bus loop and the Expo Line’s Joyce-Collingwood Station via Wesbrook Mall, 41st Avenue, and Joyce Street, as well as a connection to the Canada Line’s Oakridge-41st Avenue Station, is expected to be the busiest of the RapidBus routes.
For this reason, it will have the highest frequencies and capacities of the new services, capable of transporting 4,400 passengers per hour during peak periods — approaching the capacity of the 99 B-Line.
This service replaces the No. 43 express. It will also result in major changes to the No. 41, which will operate with a trolley bus, run with lower frequencies, and see its route end at Crown Street instead of continuing to UBC.
As well, the No. 49 will see a reroute through UBC Wesbrook Village, given the decision to truncate the No. 41.
Overall, the 41st Avenue corridor will see a 30% increase in transit capacity as a result of the R4. Extensive bus-only lanes, along with queue jumpers and new turning lanes, have already been implemented along much of the route. Further street improvements will be made to the congested Kerrisdale area portion of West 41st Avenue later this year.
- Operating hours: 6 am to 1 am daily
- Weekdays: 3 to 6 minutes for morning peak; 4 to 6 minutes for afternoon peak; 8 minutes for midday and evening; 15 minutes for late night
- Weekends: 8 minutes for peak hours, midday, and evening; 15 minutes late night
- Travel times: 45 to 60 minutes during peak periods
R3 Lougheed Highway
The R3 will run between the Millennium Line and West Coast Express’ Coquitlam Central Station and Haney Place in Maple Ridge via Lougheed Highway.
Extensive stretches of the route have received bus-only/HOV lanes to help speed up the buses. As the route largely runs on a highway, it will have the best competitive travel times.
- Operating hours: 5 am to midnight daily
- Weekdays: 10 minutes for peak hours; 15 minutes for midday, evenings, and late night
- Weekends: 15 minutes throughout the day
- Travel times: 30 to 37 minutes
R5 Hastings Street (formerly 95 B-Line)
The R5 is an upgrade of the existing 95 B-Line, complete with new passenger amenities including the new buses and the installation of the new bus stop signs with real-time digital displays.
The 95 B-Line currently sees an average of 22,100 boardings per weekday, making it the 10th busiest bus route.
R1 King George Boulevard (formerly 96 B-Line)
The R1 replaces the existing 96 B-Line, which currently sees an average of 17,500 boardings per weekday — up from 10,300 per weekday in 2014. It is the region’s 15th busiest bus route.
The R1 also features new buses and bus stop signs with real-time digital displays.
New investments have been made to the 96 B-Line, now that the plan to cancel the bus service and replace it with street-level LRT has been axed.
Last year, funds that were previously dedicated towards a Fraser Highway RapidBus were redirected towards improving the 96 B-Line to a RapidBus standard, as a decision has been made to expedite the Expo Line SkyTrain extension project to at least Fleetwood.
Instead of a RapidBus service, the Fraser Highway corridor’s bus services saw improvements this year with the upgrade of the No. 503 between Langley Centre and the Expo Line’s Surrey Central Station as a frequent, limited-stop express service.
R2 Marine Drive and 99 B-Line
As for the R2 Marine Drive — running between Park Royal in West Vancouver and Phibbs Exchange in North Vancouver District via mainly Marine Drive, with a connection to Lonsdale SeaBus terminal and bus exchange — the launch of the service has been delayed to sometime between February and April in 2020.
This is due to the extra time needed to complete road construction works, including new bus-only lanes, queue jumpers, turning lanes, and new bus stop signs with real-time digital displays.
Additionally, TransLink has made a decision to not elevate the existing 99 B-Line to the RapidBus standard, given the construction impacts that can be expected soon from the Millennium Line Broadway Extension project. But a rebrand of the 99 B-Line can be expected in 2025, when the subway opens and the bus route is truncated to terminate at the new bus exchange at Arbutus Station.
There are also plans to launch two new RapidBus routes in 2021, with one route running between the Expo Line’s Scott Road Station and Newton Exchange via Scott Road and 72 Avenue, and another route between the Canada Line’s Richmond-Brighouse Station and an Expo Line station in Vancouver or Burnaby.