One aspect of the city’s Transportation 2040 plan is calling for the addition of rapid transit to the Hastings Street, 41st Avenue, 49th Avenue, Commercial Drive/Victoria Drive, Main Street, and Fraser Street corridors.
“We would be working with TransLink and the province to help to advance projects in those corridors as well,” Jerry Dobrovolny, the city’s director of transportation planning, told News 1130 last month.
Hastings Street is currently serviced by the #14 Hastings/UBC and #135 Burrard Station/SFU. Travel along the street can be cumbersome since it is discontinuous. Route #14 travels eastbound only as far as Kootenay Loop and route #135 does not service local stops eastbound beyond Renfrew Street. Passengers that are getting off at local stops need to switch between the two routes or #16 Arbutus/29th Avenue Station. In the evening, route #14 only provides service from UBC as far as Homer Street and Hastings.
Rapid bus exists on 41st Avenue, but it only operates in peak hours as route #43. Commercial Drive and Main Street are both currently serviced by articulated trolleys.
Route #49 along 49th Avenue has the most passups out of any bus route in the entire Metro Vancouver region. It is especially troublesome between Victoria Drive and Cambie Street as passengers hop on for connections to Langara College and Langara-49th SkyTrain station. TransLink expanded the bus stop along 49th Avenue to accommodate the 60-foot articulated buses previously used for the 98 B-Line after it closed in September 2010, but overcrowding and passups continue to persist.
There were plans to introduce the 95 B-Line along Hastings Street in 2009 to provide rapid bus service between Simon Fraser University and Burrard Station. The 91 B-Line along 41st Avenue was also planned for 2009 but funding shortfalls delayed the implementation of both lines indefinitely.
In terms of priority, 49th Avenue ranks first followed by the Hastings corridor. Route #49 had the most passups at 16,585 in 2010 and route #135 was fifth with 5,832. Not saying Commercial Drive and Main Street are not important, but they are least important at this point in time.
This all sounds great, but where is the money going to come from?
The region almost suffered the embarrassment of not having bus service running over the Port Mann Bridge when it opened because of funding shortfalls. The #91 and #95 B-Lines have been delayed for over three years now. TransLink has been forced to scale back #399 B-Line, which will connect Guilford Town Centre in Surrey to as far as Newton Exchange in Langley (when it was announced, it was supposed to go all the way to White Rock).
No money? TransLink should consider reducing the number of bus stops to increase efficiency of service. On most routes, the bus stops every two blocks. How do you expect people to walk more if they can’t even walk an extra block or two to their bus stop?
On route #49, do we really need stops that are 100 metres apart from each other at Fraser Street and Chester Street westbound; and Frederick Street and Fraser eastbound?
Perhaps TransLink should experiment with converting some of the regular trips to actual express trips that only stop at major stops? For example, replace a couple of the #49 trips each hour with a #49E (“E” for Express). The #49E from Metrotown Station would only stop at Boundary Road, Tyne Street, Kerr Street, Elliott Street, Victoria Drive, Knight Street, Fraser Street, Main Street, Manitoba Street (for Langara College), Cambie Street, Oak Street, Granville Street, West Boulevard, Dunbar Loop, and then UBC.