Stephen Rees's blog

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

‘A lost transit opportunity’

with 8 comments

Pacific Coach 3004 Swartz Bay 2008_0926

What appears to be an article in the Times Colonist is uncreditted, and reads like a letter to the editor from an all ill informed reader. A journalist writing such a story would at the very least pick up a phone and call Translink’s press office. There is no express service from the Ferry to Vancouver because of a long standing agreement with Pacific Coach Lines. They operate the coach service between Victoria and Vancouver which gets carried on the ferry. This service is commercial so fares are higher than transit as there is no subsidy. People are prepared to pay more for the greater speed and convenience. Translink (and its predecessor BC Transit) agreed not to run direct bus services between the ferry and downtown as that would abstract PCL’s traffic. Using public funds to compete head to head with private companies is not allowed.    The existing #620 is a distinct improvement over the old #640 – which required Vancouver bound passengers to change at Ladner (although you could still do that and get a #601) but most people currently ride all the way to “Airport Station” and change there for the #98 B-Line or the #424 to the airport itself.

Increasing ferry fares have had the effect of encouraging walk on passengers, with a considerable rise in the number if drop offs and pick ups at the terminal in private cars (“Kiss and Ride” in US transit parlance) but also of transit use. BC Transit does offer express service to downtown Victoria from Swartz Bay – quite why they are not covered by the PCL non-compete agreement I do not know. CMBC has on occasions put on express services when loadings were exceptionally heavy – presumably when PCL was overloaded too.

There is also the argument that transit subsidies are not intended for inter city travel, but solely for travel within the transit operation’s boundary. Cross boundary services with neighbouring operations were always regarded with caution. After all, Greyhound gets no subsidy for its operations – which is why fares to so many small places within BC are so high. If we actually cared about greenhouse gas emissions more than private sector profits then these policies might be reviewed – but don’t hold your breath on that one either.

BC Transit Dennis Trident Victoria BC 2007_0909

Written by Stephen Rees

August 20, 2009 at 9:22 am

Posted in transit

Tagged with , ,

8 Responses

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  1. I wouldn’t consider the Victoria transit bus an express route.
    The 70x in Victoria, from the terminal to the city centre, still takes almost twice as long as the PCL bus. You need to pick it up outside the terminal (add 10 minutes), and in cases of crowding, those with steamer trunks will be asked to get off the bus and wait for the milk runs: 70a and 70b.
    I really don’t see the issue with a lack of express service, the 620 is plenty fast with minimal stops, except for the occasional dwell at Ladner.


    August 20, 2009 at 2:39 pm

  2. In fact, some 640’s at peak times actually do operate all the way to downtown Vancouver. If there are TWO articulate buses waiting at Tsawwassen, one of them will likely operate express with only a stop at Ladner – then bypassing the airport to come right down to Waterfront Station.

    I guess they’ll just go to Bridgeport Station after Sept 7 tho.


    August 20, 2009 at 2:56 pm

  3. Shane: The #640 operates from Ladner to Surrey along River Road. The public schedule for the #620 shows all trips running to/from Airport Station.

    Stephen Rees

    August 21, 2009 at 7:23 am

  4. […] Canada Line 1st ride rich with irony [Vancouver Observer] ‘A lost transit opportunity’ [Stephen Rees's Blog] It’s not about cyclists vs. motorists, it’s the old […]

    re:place Magazine

    August 21, 2009 at 8:14 am

  5. Sorry – I meant the 620. They don’t put it in the schedule, but when there are two buses waiting, one will likely bypass the airport and go right downtown.


    August 21, 2009 at 8:19 am

  6. My original post does say “CMBC has on occasions put on express services when loadings were exceptionally heavy – presumably when PCL was overloaded too.” which was a reference to duplicate #620 runs – which were not advertised of course, so could not be relied on.

    That will stop next month – they will all go to Bridgeport

    Stephen Rees

    August 21, 2009 at 8:39 am

  7. Standard fare from the TC: another misinformed Op-ed.

    Not only is the 620 pretty fast, Translink regularly adds an express #601 that goes directly downtown, skipping Ladner and all other Richmond stops during peak load times on the weekend. The biggest advantage PCL has speed wise is that it’s the first off on the ferry, whereas Translink leaves at the top of the hour.


    August 25, 2009 at 10:14 am

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