Stephen Rees's blog

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

Transit Report

with 8 comments

I do use transit. Not as much as when I had a free pass, I admit, but more often recently. Last week I parked at a friend’s place in Edmonds and we went downtown by SkyTrain. Fast, comfortable and without incident. Tonight I went to Canada Place, and recalling what I had paid to park there last time, went on the bus. I checked the Translink website and took the route they advised. Out to Highway 99 and an express bus. Very swift, very smooth. And there was even leg room in  the latest iteration of the Orion V, plus a polite GPS annunciator. And a door to door time of 45 minutes which is about the same as driving.  Probably (he said to anticipate the inevitable comment from Malcolm) it will not be as good next year, when Canada Line forces a transfer.

Coming back was slower as I did not know what time I would leave, so I just jumped on the first B Line I saw. The next bus signs seem to have been set to “underpromise” so the service can overdeliver. It told me I had ten minutes to wait – but I did not go get a coffee as I could see it coming. The bus I caught was using all door boarding – very effectively – and even had the SkyTrain chimes to warn of doors closing. No GPS on this puppy. And a very rough ride indeed along No 3 Road. Also very drafty: the heaters seemed to be switched off and many windows were open. I was resigned to the usual 20 minute wait at Richmond Centre for a #403 when another B Line turned up running back to the garage. So my return journey was a respectable 60 minutes. Or roughly twice the time it takes to drive at 7pm.

But the good news was I was only out of pocket $6.25. Which is probably less than I would have paid to park  since I got there before 6pm. The test for transit is: can you get people out of their cars? Impark and it’s competitors seem to be doing Translink’s job for them. The incentive to take the bus gets stronger as the developers build on ever more parking lots, and the parking prices soar.   The kinks are getting worked out of the information technology and there are even a few places now with actual bus lanes – like northbound Seymour. But what will be really impressive is when you can take transit without any trip planning – and still equal journey times of the car.

Written by Stephen Rees

December 4, 2008 at 9:59 pm

Posted in transit

8 Responses

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  1. For those of us who live out in the Poco, Pitt Meadows and Maple Ridge area though, things are still kinda tough. A ride from Haney Place in Maple Ridge to downtown Vancouver takes two hours in the morning, and two and a half in the evening.

    That’s the 791 + Skytrain in the morning, and the Skytrain + 79 + 701 in the evening. In my car, it’d probably be about an hour. I know there’s a Skytrain line planned out to Coquitlam Center in the next couple of years, but for those of us out here, it’s going to be a long couple of years.

    I think I’d rather just move downtown than wait. It’d be cheaper in many ways ( no more car insurance, gas, or transit passes ), and it’d indulge my laziness: I’d only have to get up at 9:00 instead of 7:00.

    Sean Hagen

    December 4, 2008 at 10:22 pm

  2. I checked this evening on the cost of a ride on WCE – that would still be my choice for speed – but $11.25 one way Waterfront to Mission – phew!

    Stephen Rees

    December 4, 2008 at 10:24 pm

  3. A year from now, I wonder what parking will cost at Bridgeport Station at that time of day. You might choose to park there and then take the Canada Line to Waterfront. The time would be competitive, I believe.

    BTW, you most likely know that buying one zone faresavers would cut the cost of your trip by $1.20.


    December 4, 2008 at 10:25 pm

  4. For travel from Richmond to Vancouver in daytime during the week I would need a 2 zone fare. I do not make the trip so often that I want to pay for ten tickets all at once – but they are a good hedge against fare increases.

    Stephen Rees

    December 4, 2008 at 10:31 pm

  5. One way of attracting more people to transit would be to do what towns in other places do: Park and Ride lots that are fenced and patrolled by security. Free parking all day long with a transit pass but if one doesn’t have a pass one pay around 2-3 Euros to park all day long and get a transit pass for the car driver plus one for each passengers. Berlin has a wicked plan: a full fare passenger can take along 3 kids under 14, a pram and a dog for free. Plus a bike but only with a bike ticket. These articulated buses do have a terrible ride, especially if they aren’t fully loaded. Before the LRT was built Bordeaux-France-used to have buses with 2 articulated pup trailers behind; the ride was like a PNE roller coaster!. Those who push for long buses, instead of a LRT, because buses are cheaper have never used these buses. Mind you in some European and South American towns lanes for fast buses are separated from cars by a (low)divider so at least the buses run faster than the cars.

    Red frog

    December 4, 2008 at 11:08 pm

  6. I don’t buy two-zone faresavers myself, but a one-zone pack is definitely worth it — you save $6 per 10 tickets, and if you buy it the day you make a two-fare round trip, you can think of it as having only $14 sitting around for months, an excellent return on investment.

    For two-zone travel, I use my one-zone faresaver and top it off with $1.25. I explain to the bus driver first, insert the ticket and cash, and she or he issues a $3.75 transfer. One bus driver gave me the advice to always check the dollar amount in the right top corner for anything more than a single zone fare.


    December 5, 2008 at 6:34 am

  7. My wife takes the bus every Wednesday because the dental office she works at is right at Granville and 6th – 1 stop service – time 40 min to 50 min from Tsawwassen to job.

    Coming home is a different story as after 6 pm (she finishes just after 6) service is extremely poor and normally I pick her up at Ladner loop after she takes a 601 between 7 pm and 7:30! And if a bus doesn’t show up, which has happened on a few occasions, she arrives at 8!

    With RAV, too many transfers and she will drive.

    Transit will work if ones journey time is reasonable and no transfers.

    Red Frog is right on about European transit’s fare schemes, they have wonderful discounts that many tourists are unaware of.

    A friend of mine in Heilbronn Germany, played soccer for a soccer club – the club itself purchased ‘club passes’ which enabled them to use the buses at a discount during the week and almost free on weekends! Good incentive not to drive, especially if one has too many Beck’s after a game.

    Malcolm J.

    December 5, 2008 at 6:56 am

  8. From the original TransLink news release regarding the Bridgeport parkade – $2 for parking during peak periods – otherwise presumably free since it’s open for casino users:

    The agreement guarantees 1,200 spaces for transit users between 5:30 am and 7:00 pm on business days and available parking for Canada Line passengers during transit’s off-peak hours. TransLink will set the parking rate during peak transit hours, proposed to be $2 per day in 2009.

    Park and Ride lot costs are also $2 per day at Scott Road & WCE stations.

    Ron C.

    December 5, 2008 at 8:05 pm

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