Stephen Rees's blog

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

Lots of Good Stuff in the Straight today

with 6 comments

Well actually I picked up a hard copy last night and was going to blog about it earlier but got distracted.

To start with there is a very positive piece on young Paul Hillsdon. Dr Fred Bass, who devised the original trial of bike lanes on the Burrard Bridge is categorical about the one lane plan. “It won’t work.” As usual the key fact about junction capacity at each of the bridge determining traffic flow is missed.

There’s a bit about Vancouver bloggers which picks up Raul Pacheco ( and Sean Orr but not most of my other favourites (see the blogroll over to the right there)

There’s also a letter from Nancy Forham which initially made me cheer, but then I had a second thought. There actually has been an increase in the number of buses and hours of service – just not nearly enough. And the problem is that when Translink talks about this it tries to conceal what is really happening. Because absolute numbers (thousands of service hours) or even n% more than x years ago really do not tell you much. Because the region has been growing. There are more people and they are making more trips, more often and they are taking longer. And the key statistic – transit mode share – has hardly changed at all. Keep this in mind when you hear a Translink spokesperson telling you how much more service they will be adding at the next sheet change. The mode share for all trips ten years ago was 11%. It still is now. That is the problem. And in the meantime much more time and effort has gone into road and bridge projects than just buying more buses. And the biggest spend on transit has been on the Canada Line which will make transit service worse for some of the region’s longest distance and most loyal customers. Because instead of a one seat bus ride they will be forced to stand for the last section of their journey. And that cannot get any better, since the stations are too short (so trains cannot get longer) and the line has long sections of single track (so frequency cannot be increased) – and the initial order for trains was cut very early on to stay within the fixed price.

Oh and the new marketing gimmick for those much worse bus services from South of the Fraser? Rapid Bus BC. Yes, almost the same name the NDP were going to use for bus rapid transit in Richmond before it got cut back beyond all recognition and crawled out of the box as the catchily named 98 B Line. A short queue jumper lane is going in on Highway #99 between Westminster Highway and Bridgeport Road (it says here but stretches the truth as there is no space at the southern limit due to overpasses at the #91 interchange). So the yellow highway bus will be able to get in and out of the station quicker, which is what happens when you design service for the benefit of the operator and not the passenger.

Orion V southbound on Highway #99 approaching Massey Tunnel

Orion V southbound on Highway #99 approaching Massey Tunnel

Written by Stephen Rees

November 7, 2008 at 4:25 pm

Posted in politics, transit

6 Responses

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  1. Thanks for the props, Stephen! I was quite happy with the interview with the Georgia Straight! And it was great to see Sean and Paul also profiled there!


    November 7, 2008 at 6:23 pm

  2. Charlie Smith was the only reporter in the city that actually reported on the true story of SkyTrain, in the early 90’s. His well researched articles scared some Straight employees from not wanting to take the metro.

    Charlie did in depth reporting on the WCE and really came onto his own with the Millennium Line debacle. Charlie’s articles on our transit scene have been widely quoted in the overseas press.

    Malcolm J.

    November 7, 2008 at 6:45 pm

  3. Would you mind revealing where you found the often-quoted statistic about local transit mode share 10 years ago? I don’t doubt the statistic – I’d like to incorporate it in my research for a transportation planning class out at UBC, and haven’t been able to find it from an official source.


    November 7, 2008 at 10:34 pm

  4. I started work at what was then BC Transit in 1997. In 1999 I was one of the staff seconded to the GVRD to organise the creation of the GVTA – which became translink. I also was one of the contributors to the first Strategic Transportation Plan. That document records the mode share at that time as 11% because it also set a target of 17% as the aim of that Plan. With the death of the vehicle levy, the STP was soon forgotten.

    Stephen Rees

    November 7, 2008 at 11:22 pm

  5. If there’s a concern about the half lane bike lane width and proximity to cars, just install bollards on the dividing line – just like the orange bollards that suddenly appeared at many Canada Line construction sites on Cambie to prevent left turns (they don’t need to be orange). The City installed the same types of bollards on Expo Boulevard under BC Place when the curb lane was closed for a bike lane and pedestrain sidewalk (i.e. before the final configuration with concrete sidewalk and the bike lane was built). Easy, low cost solution that would not place a structural burden on the bridge.

    WRT the south of Fraser bus services, I understand that the frequency of bus service will increase – since they won’t have to travel all the way into downtown Vancouver, they can turn around and head back to their origin sooner to pick up more passengers. If the south of Fraser passengers paid a premum for the coachlines-like service, then maybe the loss of the special treatment may be cause for grumbling, but don’t they pay the same fare as everyone else for 3 zones?

    Ron C.

    November 8, 2008 at 2:58 pm

  6. You don’t get it Ron, the forced transfer from bus to RAV will force many from transit. Customer service, this is the hallmark of a good transit system. In Europe, the seamless (no-transfer) journey is what attracts a lot of transit users. Forcing customers from a seamless to a forced transfer will only erode ridership.

    Malcolm J.

    November 8, 2008 at 5:05 pm

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