Reminder: TransLink's 4 new RapidBus routes launch on Monday

Jan 5 2020, 10:22 am

Metro Vancouver residents looking for a speedier, frequent alternative to regular bus routes will benefit from the launch of the region’s first RapidBus services, starting on Monday, January 6.

TransLink’s four RapidBus routes are limited-stop services, optimized with the use of new bus-only lanes, queue jumpers, turning lanes, and uniquely branded blue-and-green coloured hybrid articulated buses with all-door boarding.

All RapidBus stops have been outfitted with special tall, blue-and-green coloured posts that provide enhanced visibility, as well as useful route wayfinding information, audio voice announcements with the push of a button, and real-time next bus countdown digital signs.

translink rapidbus

RapidBus bus stop sign. (TransLink)

translink rapidbus

RapidBus bus stop sign audio announcement capability. (TransLink)

Two of the RapidBus routes are completely new:

  • R4 41st Avenue: From UBC to the Expo Line’s Joyce-Collingwood Station via Wesbrook Mall, 16th Avenue, 41st Avenue, and Joyce Street
  • R3 Lougheed Highway: From the Millennium Line’s Coquitlam Central Station to Haney Place in Maple Ridge via Lougheed Highway

Two of the RapidBus routes are upgrades of existing B-Line routes:

  • R5 Hastings Street (formerly 95 B-Line): From the Expo Line’s Burrard Station to SFU via Hastings Street
  • R1 King George Boulevard (formerly 96 B-Line): From Guildford Exchange to Newton Exchange via 104 Avenue and King George Boulevard

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.

Along with the launch of RapidBus, there will be a number of major permanent changes to existing bus routes on Monday:

  • No. 41 Joyce-Collingwood Station/Crown: With the new R4, the No. 41’s new western terminus will be located at Crown Street — it will no longer reach UBC. The service will use a trolley bus and run every 15 minutes everyday during all operating hours.
  • No. 43 Joyce-Collingwood Station/UBC: This route is cancelled, replaced by the R4.
  • No. 49 Metrotown Station/UBC: The No. 49 will reroute through UBC Wesbrook Village as the No. 41 no longer serves this area.
  • No. 480 UBC/Bridgeport: It will only run during peak hours. For faster service between Bridgeport and UBC, riders are advised to take the Canada Line at Bridgeport Station and transfer to the R4 at Oakridge-41st Avenue Station.
  • No. 595 Maple Meadows Station/Langley Centre: Service will be extended during the weekday rush hours to connect to the R3. The additional hours will run from 5 to 8 am and 3:30 to 6:30 pm on weekdays.
  • No. 555 Carvolth Exchange/Lougheed Town Centre Station: After the region’s double-decker buses first went into operation in Fall 2019, they are now also being introduced on the No. 555.
  • No. 14 Hastings/UBC and N17 Downtown/UBC: 24-hour service with the combined No. 14 and N17 between downtown and UBC, with the No. 14 running from 3:30 am all day until 1:30 am, and the N17 from 1:30 am to 3:30 am.

Here is a complete rundown of the RapidBus routes:

R4 41st Avenue

  • Operating hours: 6 am to 1 am daily
  • Frequency:
    • 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

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.

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.

R4 41st avenue rapidbus

R4 41st Avenue. (TransLink)

R3 Lougheed Highway

  • Operating hours: 5 am to midnight daily
  • Frequency:
    • 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

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.

R3 LOUGHEED HIGHWAY RAPIDBUS

R3 Lougheed Highway. (TransLink)

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 region’s 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 initial plan to cancel the bus service and replace it with street-level LRT has been axed.

In 2018, 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 had 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 in 2019 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.

R2 MARINE DRIVE RAPID BUS

R2 Marine Drive. (TransLink)

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 at least 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.