As a project 20 years in the making, the University of British Columbia now has a permanent, high-capacity bus exchange for TransLink’s diesel bus routes serving the Point Grey campus.
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After years of construction and disruption, the new bus loop immediately north of War Memorial Gymnasium has reached full completion. Diesel and hybrid bus routes have been using the new facility for some time now, initially limited in use, but the project crossed the final finish line only late last month.
The construction cost of the new bus exchange is $21.75 million, with about $8.8 million coming from TransLink.
The new spacious and efficient design, built just south of the former location of the old diesel bus loop, is constructed on the site of a parking lot and a portion of the footprint of the old McInnes Field.
This large bus exchange provides ample passenger circulation and bus bay capacity, with separate arrivals and departures areas that are protected with a continuous steel, wood, and glass canopy system with lighting.
The road surfaces of the bus exchange are also illuminated with a system of festoon lighting suspended with overhead cables.
Departure bays are located in the new loop, while the arrival area is located on the eastern edge of UBC Aquatic Centre.
It accommodates 13 diesel/hybrid bus routes, and provides capacity for new future routes and service expansion.
The new exchange includes a significant bus layover facility in the base of the newly-completed UBC Exchange Residence, with 15 bus parking spaces and facilities for drivers, such as a break room and washrooms. A thick concrete and steel roof over the bus layover facility acts as not only a platform for the student residence towers, but also as an acoustical barrier and a large private outdoor amenity space for the complex’s student residents.
The entire redevelopment — the bus exchange, bus layover facility, and the Exchange Residence — was designed by local architectural firm DIALOG.
Up until the early 2000s, both trolley and diesel buses were located at a small bus loop at the northeast corner of the intersection of University Boulevard and East Mall — at the approximate location of the UBC Robert H. Lee Alumni Centre, just across from the UBC Bookstore.
In 2003, the diesel buses were relocated to a new temporary bus loop where the UBC Exchange Residence is built.
The trolley loop was eventually demolished and relocated to a new on-street exchange as part of University Boulevard’s redesign.
Early concepts placed the new permanent, larger bus exchange and layover facility underground, but this was cancelled in 2009 after engineering and cost issues favoured a new ground-level bus exchange and underground layover facility combination.
However, this alternative concept was later also cancelled in 2014, after it was determined that a larger footprint beneath the old McInnes Field was required, with higher construction costs. Instead, the underground space over the new McInnes Field, which is still under construction, will be used as a single-level, short-term parking lot with over 200 vehicle stalls.
According to the 2017 UBC Transportation Status report, public transit mode share at the campus is hovering at 53%, with bus routes traveling along University Boulevard (including the 99 B-Line, No. 4, No. 9, No. 14, and No. 258) accounting for 45% of all transit trips to and from UBC. The 99 B-Line, specifically, accounts for 31% of all transit trips at the university.
Bus routes that use West 16th Avenue and Chancellor Boulevard both account 12%, while bus routes travelling along Southwest Marine Drive and 41st Avenue account for 30%.
Moreover, express bus services (No. 43, No. 44, No. 84, No. 258, and No. 480) account for 25% of all transit trips to and from campus, and this figure increases to 56% when the 99 B-Line is included. This is an indication of the popularity of faster transit services to and from UBC.
Trolley bus routes — No. 4, 9, and 14/17 — account for just 14% of all transit trips.
Since 1997, transit ridership at UBC has more than quadrupled, not just from the growth of the student/faculty and on-campus populations, but also a general real shift towards transit use, specifically after the 2002 introduction of the U-Pass. Over 81,000 trips are now made to the campus on average each weekday.
The report also found that automobile traffic (single-occupancy and carpool vehicles) to and from UBC decreased from 62,400 vehicles per day in fall 1997 to 56,700 vehicles per week day, even though the campus’ daytime population increased by 64% over this 20-year period.
The single-occupancy vehicle (SOV) share has fallen by 31% over the same period. The number of SOV trips only grew by 300 per average weekday, from 46,000 in fall 1997 to 46,300 in fall 2017.
For carpooling, these high-occupancy vehicle trips dropped from 36,100 in fall 1997 to 22,100 in fall 2017 — a mode share decrease from 34% to 14%.