All of the bus stops for TransLink’s new RapidBus express routes will feature a special tall sign post that delineates a superior bus service offering fast and frequent service.
The green-coloured triangular posts will provide the RapidBus service with distinctive branding, as well as way-finding information and a real-time next bus digital countdown display that shows the arrival times of the next buses.
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Photos of the countdown display indicate the screen uses a monochrome LCD, similar to the screens commonly used for digital quartz clocks, as opposed to a LED screen similar to the countdown displays of the stops along the Main Street trolley route and the long-defunct 98 B-Line or even a LCD display.
In a report to the Mayors’ Council next week, TransLink staff state these countdown displays will run on three-year batteries instead of requiring a fixed connection to a wired electricity source. According to staff, this battery-powered countdown display has “enabled the project to deliver a flexible, cost-effective solution within the aggressive project schedule,” suggesting a more advanced and larger display is unfeasible at this time.
The countdown display will still be visible at night as it will be backlit. Additionally, for passengers with impaired vision, an audio announcement is available at the push of the button.
Other stop features entail tactile walking surface indicators at the front door boarding location, except for the stops located in Vancouver and Burnaby as both municipalities do not support this installation.
Construction crews will begin the installation of the triangular posts this month, and these posts will be concealed under wrapping until the launch of the RapidBus routes in early 2020.
TransLink’s standard for RapidBus, besides being a limited-stop enhanced version of the existing B-Line standard, also entails new bus-only lanes and queue jumpers, and traffic signal changes along much of the length of each bus route. Construction on these roadway changes to speed up and better ensure the reliability of the buses are well underway.
The first phase of the RapidBus program consists of five routes. This includes three new routes: R2 Marine Drive (Park Royal in West Vancouver to Phibbs Exchange in North Vancouver District via Marine Drive, 3rd Street, and Main Street); R3 Lougheed Highway (Coquitlam Central Station to Haney Place in Maple Ridge via Lougheed Highway); and R4 41st Avenue (UBC to Joyce-Collingwood Station via Wesbrook Mall and 41st Avenue)
The remaining two RapidBus routes will be an upgrade of the existing 95 B-Line and 96 B-Line services into the R5 Hastings Street and R1 King George Boulevard, respectively.
With the exception of R2 Marine Drive, four of these RapidBus routes are slated to go into service in January 2020; R2, serving all three North Shore municipalities, faces possible further delays as “the complexity of the interventions and agreeing to final designs has impacted the schedule for critical works, potentially requiring several more months for completion” during the first quarter of 2020.
All five routes will exclusively operate on a fleet of green-coloured, RapidBus-branded articulated buses and with an all-door boarding system. Frequencies vary depending on the route; buses will run as frequently as every three minutes on the R4 during the peak morning rush, and at least every 15 minutes for all routes during the daily service hours from 6 am to 1 am.
Beyond these initial routes, TransLink plans on launching at least two additional RapidBus routes as early as 2021, including a new route from Richmond-Brighouse Station to Metrotown Station via the Knight Street Bridge, and another route from Scott Road Station to Newton Exchange via Scott Road and 72 Avenue.
The 99 B-Line will retain its name and branding, likely until 2025 when the Millennium Line Broadway Extension opens and results in the truncation of the bus route from Arbutus Station to UBC. RapidBus-standard improvements for the 99 B-Line are not being conducted as construction on the subway project is slated to begin by the end of 2020, and it will disrupt the service.