Stephen Rees's blog

Thoughts about the relationships between transport and the urban area it serves

Bus-only lanes eyed for Lions Gate access

with 8 comments

The Province

It’s a short story but a good one so I am going to exceed my usual “fair use” strictures and give you the whole lot

TransLink hopes that bus-only lanes in North and West Vancouver will get commuters out of their cars and into public transit.

TransLink wants to turn the curb lanes of Marine Drive into bus-only lanes leading on to the Lions Gate Bridge.

If councils approve the plan, construction on a westbound lane in North Vancouver could begin as early as late 2008.

“We’re trying to give buses a competitive advantage,” said Gary Vlieg, TransLink’s manager of road and infrastructure planning. “We’re trying to be as efficient as possible. The intention is to make the buses as fast, if not faster, than by driving.”

“We’re hoping we can achieve the North Vancouver bus-only lane by repaving the [existing] marking on the road,” said Vlieg. “In West Vancouver, it’s more complicated and involves more construction.”

The are not all that many bus only lanes in this region, and many that were bus only were watered down by allowing HOVs – which often weren’t especially H. But the Lion’s Gate is certainly a good place to try. I hope the municipalities allow them to get on with it.

Of course the province could also try something similar on the Port Mann. But it won’t.

Bus lane on Pender

Bus only lane in downtown Vancouver (Pender Street)

Written by Stephen Rees

April 4, 2008 at 2:30 pm

Posted in Traffic, transit

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8 Responses

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  1. It may increase transit use, but not by much. What has surprised me in the ‘transit’ game is how poor buses are in attracting new ridership, especially the all important motorist from the car.

    A good example is Paris, where the first tramway built, trebled bus ridership in less than two years! Study after study in Europe have shown that on-street/at-grade rail (LRT) has proven to be the vehicle to attract new customers. The concept of ‘reserved rights-of-ways’ and low floor cars have proven to be the ‘vehicle’ to attract new customers to transit.

    Vancouver is not just behind the times, we are about 40 years behind ‘cutting’ edge transit philosophy.

    Malcolm J.

    April 4, 2008 at 5:00 pm

  2. Depends what you mean by “not by much”, Malcolm.

    The North Shore has decent ridership for the system it’s got. I’d expect bus only lanes to be quite the bang for the buck.

    And, do you really think they’d reserve 2 out of 3 lanes on the Lions Gate for an LRT? No. So, LRT would likely be a multi-billion dollar project involving a new bridge/tunnel.

    Mumbo Joe

    April 4, 2008 at 6:59 pm

  3. That’s a good point. At the very least it’ll improve existing bus service eh?

    I bussed northbound over the Lions Gate a few times during rush hour, no problems, but it always took me by surprise when suddenly traffic came to a standstill at the north end SB onramp. I never managed to keep an eye on traffic the whole way but it seemed like it was backing up for no reason.

    My boyfriend prefers driving and recently told me he “despises” the bus. He’s never really managed to have a good experience taking transit, and even the few trips that go over well (in my opinion), have less weight than the bad ones and I think that’s true of people in general, who aren’t regular users. He only takes transit when I convince him it’ll save time and/or money due to either the need to travel into town during rush hour, or an event with expensive parking. He’s much less forgiving (and more critical) of poor service or late buses. If/when we get our coveted LRT to the Valley, it would probably take very nightmarish traffic and/or insane gas prices to make him hop on a train for his commute. Unless, of course, he can get there faster and easier 😉

    Erika Rathje

    April 4, 2008 at 7:47 pm

  4. I never said, put LRT on the Lions Bridge, but why not try the 2nd Narrows rail bridge?

    The one item that has been repeated to me by transit planners in the UK and Europe is “buses are very poor in attracting ridership”. Even the new generation of guided buses are proving poor in attracting new ridership. A bus, is a bus is a bus. It is this ‘bus malaise’ that has spurred on tram/LRT development overseas as well as the USA.

    As I often said before, “light rail is not a panacea (which many think SkyTrain is) but a proven tool in attracting ridership, especially the motorist from the car.” Certainly LRT can’t be used on all transit routes, but for major routes like Broadway, Hastings, even the Arbutus corridor, LRT would greatly out perform buses and even maybe SkyTrain and that singular fact seems to frighten many in local governments.

    Is LRT too simple and too cheap for Vancouver?

    Malcolm J.

    April 5, 2008 at 8:44 am

  5. Setting aside the obvious superiority of LRT in attracting ridership, I think the key is to create a situation where drivers stuck in traffic are able to see buses whizzing by in an exclusive lane unfettered by congestion. Of course this is most important on bridges (I’m sure the impact on people queuing for the Port Mann would be significant) , but streets like Granville should really have a ROW for the 98 B-Line, and the Canada Line or even LRT for that matter shouldn’t even be contemplated in my opinion until the bus line is at capacity.

    This will be a great step forward.


    April 5, 2008 at 9:12 pm

  6. I’m currently living on the North Shore. I don’t work downtown anymore but end up there quite often on business or for evening entertainment. Not sure about the West Van side, but the North Van side has good transit priority access to the Lions Gate. The bus already “whizzes” by people waiting to get onto the bridge.

    I don’t have a problem with the length of the trip, but I do have a problem with frequency of service. My decision whether to bus or drive has more to do with whether or not I’ll be downtown after 6:30, when the service interval drops from every 15 minutes to every 30 minutes.

    Missing a bus or sea bus by 5 minutes and having to wait another 25 minutes doubles the amount of time it takes to get home. Doubly frustrating when the drive home after 6:30 typically only takes 20 to 30 minutes.

    I have tremendous sympathy for people living further out with more connections to deal with.

    LRT with wireless internet and enough elbow room to use a notebook, iPod Touch or EEE would make transit a LOT more attractive to the crowd I hang out with.


    April 6, 2008 at 1:50 am

  7. Corey

    Bus Lanes on Granville were proposed for what was then called “Richmond Rapid Bus” together with bus activated signal priority. Both were rejected by the City of Vancouver. There is a short daytime bus lane northbound from Marine Drive to 70th. While there are some peak hour parking restrictions they do not reflect the change in commuting patterns, which now has more people living in Vancouver and working in Richmond than the other way round.

    Stephen Rees

    April 6, 2008 at 6:34 am

  8. I found transit in North Van really good in general, and even better now that I’ve lived in Surrey for almost 2 years coping with some pretty crappy service. For a little community like Deep Cove, the half-express route to/from downtown, with the best frequency in the morning, was awesome, and it definitely was full. The half-hour intervals are never fun, especially when you miss it, but then, getting stuck in a bottleneck due to an accident isn’t any fun either.

    I don’t think LRT would be useful over the 2nd Narrows crossing. Anyway, there are plans for a 3rd seabus (2009?). Traffic, especially with recent improvements, just isn’t quite awful enough to get people out of their cars, except for maybe residents of Lynn Valley who, with that hill, could probably use a gondola 😉

    Erika Rathje

    April 6, 2008 at 10:48 pm

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