TransLink to restart West Vancouver to UBC express bus route in September

Mar 30 2023, 7:58 pm

The years-long suspension of the express bus route between West Vancouver and the University of British Columbia’s (UBC) Vancouver campus will come to an end just in time for the new school year.

Bus route No. 258 was initially cancelled as part of TransLink’s sweeping service cuts in April 2020 in reaction to the onset of the pandemic, the cancellation of on-campus instruction, and the collapse of public transit ridership across Metro Vancouver.

But do not look for buses with the No. 258 signs when September 2023 arrives. The plan to bring back the West Vancouver-UBC express bus route service will be an extension of the existing No. 44 UBC/Downtown Vancouver route, according to TransLink.

“TransLink and West Vancouver city staff have identified a solution to improve transit for customers travelling between Marine Drive in West Vancouver and UBC,” TransLink spokesperson Thor Diakow told Daily Hive Urbanized in an email.

Like the No. 258, the select extended trips for the No. 44 reaching West Vancouver will run during the morning and afternoon peak periods only on weekdays, during UBC’s school year.

“It would include local stops in West Vancouver and rapid service through Vancouver with several stops along the way ā€“ customers will be able to board at stops along the whole length of the route,” said Diakow.

“We are planning to implement this extension in September and will be communicating with stakeholders and customers in advanceĀ of the regular service change in September.”

There would also be some changes in the route the buses take through Vancouver.

The previous No. 258 used Burrard Street, Burrard Street Bridge, and Cornwall Avenue for its trips to UBC, while the Granville Street Bridge and Seymour Street were used for its trips to West Vancouver.

The select No. 44 trips serving West Vancouver will avoid Waterfront Station, but follow the same path of the regular No. 44 via the Burrard Street Bridge. This also means the No. 44 trips serving West Vancouver will make the same regular No. 44 express bus stops within Vancouver in its journey between West Vancouver and UBC.

Proposed route 44 extension

Map showing the route extension of No. 44 serving West Vancouver, and the previous No. 258 route. (TransLink)

The previous No. 258 configuration no longer aligns with TransLink’s service standards, which requires other passengers to board along the route and align with capacity.

The previous No. 258 route had 15 stops along Marine Drive in West Vancouver, and five stops within the University Endowment Lands and UBC, with the lack of stops within Vancouver making it the “express” route. In optimal traffic conditions, the end-to-end travel time was under an hour.

West Vancouver benefited most from the previous No. 258 because it was funded and operated by West Vancouver District’s Blue Bus, which is uniquely separately governed and managed by the municipal government. But this bus route between West Vancouver and UBC is now being transferred to TransLink.

For this reason, the No. 258 was one of the lowest-used bus routes on Metro Vancouver’s entire public transit network, ranking 198 out of 216 in pre-pandemic 2019.

Statistics show it saw 30,000 annual boardings in pre-pandemic 2019, with an average of 180 boardings per weekday when UBC was in session. This is down from the annual total of 39,000 boardings and weekday average of 180 boardings in 2018, but up from the annual total of 20,000 boardings and weekday average of 160 boardings in 2015.

During Monday’s Council meeting, West Vancouver Mayor Mark Sager suggested one of the reasons for the jurisdictional transfer of the route is the capacity limitations of the maintenance and storage facilities for the Blue Bus. He says some of the Blue Bus vehicles are already being maintained outside of the North Shore.

The previous No. 258 service used the Blue Bus’ standard 40 ft, two-door buses, while TransLink’s No. 44 uses the 60 ft, three-door buses with more passenger capacity.

“We have been successful in our discussions with TransLink, and the direct bus to UBC will be returning this September,” said Sager during the meeting, announcing the tentative agreement, adding that this is “very good news for people commuting to UBC this fall.” He suggested there could be three trips in the morning peak period, and three return trips in the afternoon peak period.

TransLink is expected to finalize and announce the service details closer to September as part of its seasonal bus service changes announcement.

In 2018, West Vancouver also transferred the jurisdiction of the Blue Bus’ No. 257 Horseshoe Bay/Downtown Vancouver express bus route to TransLink.

Kenneth ChanKenneth Chan

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