Stephen Rees's blog

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

Changes Coming to Bus Routes to UBC?

with 8 comments

Mathew Laird has just tweeted

Hearing rumours the 480 is to be eliminated and the 100 extended to UBC. Direct bus from #newwest to UBC in the near future? Interesting…

The #480 is one of the heaviest loading bus routes in the region. When the Canada Line was introduced, most bus routes got shifted around so that the train would do most of the heavy lifting for traffic between Richmond and Vancouver. The UBC route was an exception, since the east west routes that link from Canada Line stations to UBC were already over capacity – especially the #99 B Line along Broadway. The articulated buses from the old #98 B Line were diverted to the #480 – and other routes like the #49, #43, #44 and so on.

Oddly enough I was recently being passed by a southbound #480 on Granville Street in Marpole. It struck me that it is the only survivor of a whole series of bus routes that used to do the somewhat circuitous routing of Granville, South West Marine, Hudson, and then 71st Ave to the Oak Street Bridge

#480 route diagram

The southern end of the #480 route diagram

What struck me then – and is quite obvious from the map – is that the current routing to Bridgeport Station actually duplicates part of the Canada Line – and that Marine Drive Station is a lot closer. Of course, at one time the #480 would take you to Richmond Centre (Brighouse) and even, on otherwise deadhead runs, all the way to Steveston and Shell (the Richmond Operating Centre). I bemoaned its loss then.

Loadings on the #100 between Marine Drive and 22nd Street stations cannot be anything like those between UBC and the Canada Line on the #480. But maybe the number gets changed if the new routing is different to the dog’s leg of the #480 (41st Ave and Granville) but took the more obviously direct routing of South West Marine Drive. That takes me back to my days working at BC Transit when I was regularly lobbied by the locals along the Drive who feared a direct bus past their doors to UBC. While there is no service bus along that route, I have seen many dead head miles run that way. So perhaps opposition these days is not as strong as it once was?

480 at UBC May 2010

480 at UBC May 2010 my photo on flickr

One thing is for sure. If there is a reworking of the #100 expect much of it to be short turns UBC to Marine Drive and not a lot of it going all the way to New Westminster!


In all fairness to the good folk of SW Marine Drive, I should make it clear that they did not so much oppose a direct bus as express the fear that we (BC Transit) would be persuaded to run a direct bus as a way for the City Engineers to then press for a widening of the Drive to four lanes. At the time I thought that showed a remarkable faith in our resources (even then buses were overcrowded and there weren’t nearly enough of them to meet demand on existing routes) and the City’s willingness to spend money on roads. While I am sure that there were some engineers who would have salivated at the thought, the City Transportation Plan was very clear in its opposition to increasing general purpose traffic capacity. And the same engineers then bitterly opposed any and all suggestions about bus priority in general and bus lanes in particular. It’s all different these days, of course.

The #100 was at that time a very long and highly unreliable route from 22nd Street to the Airport. It operated from the Port Coquitlam Operating Centre as there was simply not enough room at the Oakridge Operating Centre. Though there was no deadheading – it operated on one of the New West – PoCo routes to get to and from home base. Indeed, even now reliability of a UBC – New Westminster route via South West and South East Marine Drives would be a real issue. It does now however run past the new Vancouver Operating Centre – so a lot of revenue and non revenue miles of the present #480 would be saved.

I am not sure about the amount of space on the trains though.

Written by Stephen Rees

January 13, 2012 at 11:08 am

8 Responses

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  1. I don’t support extending the 100 to UBC but instead just short turn the 480 and run it UBC- Marine Drive Station. Anyone who wants to go from New Westminister to UBC can easily transfer, it’s not like the students have to pay full price on transit anyways.


    January 13, 2012 at 12:03 pm

  2. I do quite like this idea, though unfortunately I do not believe the Canada Line trains will be able to take this extra demand. Most Richmond-bound trains operate during peak hours uncomfortably crowded, because bus routes were basically designed to force people onto the train. And I don’t believe I’m being biased here either – as a Richmondite, every time I need to cross the Fraser River, I almost inevitably find myself on the train. Off-peak, I think things are fine, but during peak hours, I do not believe that the Canada Line will be able to cope with the strain of another bus route funneling its traffic into it.

    Another interesting point, when TransLink cancelled the #480 past Bridgeport, they stated that it would be replaced by articulated #403 service. This in my opinion is like replacing apples with oranges, as the #480 routed down Garden City Road while the #403 routes down No. 3 Road, a full kilometre away. The #480 is also not timed to connect with either the #403 nor the #407/430 down Garden City.

    Perhaps I should stop complaining to you and write a strongly-worded letter to TransLink 😛

    Alex Stormhall

    January 13, 2012 at 12:45 pm

  3. Given that this is a rumour – and not one that I even asked Translink about before writing as a journalist would do – a politely worded letter to Translink – or maybe the service planners at CMBC – might be more fruitful. All of my speculations revolve around operational issues. This doesn’t look like something the planners at Translink would come up with. But I could be wrong about that too

    Stephen Rees

    January 13, 2012 at 2:10 pm

  4. Stephen:

    Thanks for your response. I think you’re making an assumption about my beliefs that may not be correct (fwiw). Thanks also for the link to the article. I pay taxes. I’m not upset about what I pay. In fact, on balance I’m not too rabidly upset about much. You don’t need to Neo-con/evangelical demonize me.

    I’ve also travelled a bit, hit a pothole or two and paid off the odd cop.

    I think we can have a discussion. I’m not trying to change you or be educated on the bigger picture. I respect your opinions and don’t claim to have ownership of any specific truth.

    That said, I am curious about how you’d answer the question I posed, and I’m interested precisely because of your interest in the public good.

    You dodged the question. It is provocative, but not pointless. Looking at taxes as a solution to what you think needs to be done is not original. It’s also been proven ineffective in many instances, because taxpayers don’t like taxes by and large. Your friend likes paying taxes for services she values. That’s great.

    What if she didn’t value those services? Do you still feel entitled to her tax dollars? If so, why? I’m not going to try to bait you so that I can prove you wrong, nor am I an Ayn Rand acolyte. I am curious about your view on this though and would like to understand it.


    Rob Chipman

    January 13, 2012 at 2:58 pm

  5. Stephen:

    Again, thanks for the link to the article – it’s lead to some other interesting stuff that she’s doing.


    January 13, 2012 at 4:40 pm

  6. I hope it is only unfounded and bad rumour.

    Scrapping it to the benefit of an extended 100 doesn’t achieve any substantial regional benefit, and it will be still faster from 22nd station to take the Expo line to go to UBC than a bus 100.

    #480 from Bridgeport makes very good sense: all the south of Fraser rider, many having already transferred once, find here a connection with DownTown (canada line), metrotown (430), and UBC (480).

    That is the definition of a regional hub like Bridgeport is (thought I think #430, should be reviewed to become a #630 route starting in Ladner, instead of Brighouse), and from bridgeport 480, a regional route, is faster than other option to go to UBC-
    it also allow to capture Richmond-Marpole-Kerrisdale traffic, for which the Canada line (just to cross the bridge) is a serious detour-so the bus 480 is well used.

    to have an idea of what should look like the “regional network” (seen of Richmond), check the map at:


    January 13, 2012 at 9:45 pm

  7. It such a route change were to be made, it might gain some ridership along the Marine Dr corridor, but it would surely lose ridership from its existing feeder lines.

    Currently, riders from Delta can transfer directly to the 480. If they have to ride the Canada Line across the river anyways, why transfer at Marine Drive Station, and why not ride to 49th or 41st, both, which run as or more often.

    As further disincentive, riders making the transfer from Richmond and Delta would have even less of a chance of getting a seat because their bus might line up with a thru bus from 22nd station. Combine, that with a substantially longer route, which would create schedule reliability issues.

    If this was to be done, why not instead boost service along 41st and 49th from Canada Line to UBC? As it is, the 480 uses 41st anyways, so there is road capacity for these buses.

    If the full point of this exercise is running buses as efficiently as possible, why have these buses run along the Granville corridor, when the north-south travel could be done by Canada Line instead?


    January 15, 2012 at 11:53 am

  8. Voony makes a lot of good points, but his comments about the #100 are too focused on the eastern endpoint. It’s a mistake I see all the time in discussions about transit routes. For some reason people always argue about how much time it takes to get from one end to the other when many buses begin their run nearly empty and even those that start out with a heavy load tend to dump passengers along the way and replace them with others. Unless you’re talking about a regional hub like UBC, the endpoint doesn’t matter because almost all the passengers board somewhere along the way.

    The benefit of an extended #100 would be a direct UBC connection for all the people at the extreme southern end of N-S routes in Burnaby and Vancouver. For many of them the trip north to connect with other services, followed by the westward journey by B-Line or other bus is longer than would be provided by the #100.

    The 480 has value because it offers a no-transfer ride for passengers heading for destinations on or near Granville. The former home of suburban services seems naked with just the #10 and #480. If the #43 is ever upgraded to full B-Line or BRT then the 480’s days might be numbered, but such an upgrade has been planned for years and isn’t any closer to reality.

    I don’t think John knows the route to UBC very well. No matter how you slice it getting from Granville to SW Marine at 41st is a nightmare. The long segment of 41st between West Boulevard and Marine is effectively single lane as is Marine Drive from Granville to the merge point. Morning and afternoon both more closely resemble parking lots than arterial roads. Even travelling in the reverse direction, away from UBC in the morning and back in the evening, can be a test of patience thanks to a seemingly endless parade of dump trucks and other heavy vehicles that take a long time to get up to speed.

    A bus connecting Langara to UBC wouldn’t be an efficient use of resources. Demand east of Cambie exceeds demand west of Cambie.

    Although the #49 now uses many articulated diesels to cope with UBC demand, the route still isn’t able to cope with the number of passengers heading east from Langara Canada Line station in the evening. TransLink has responded by bringing empty articulated buses down Cambie and turning them east on 49th.

    A new route between Langara and Metrotown along east 54th and 57th would help serve that excess demand and bring new passengers onto the system. Such a route could also eliminate the Champlain detour that the #49 currently makes. The big problem is 57th between Argyle and Main. That street simply isn’t built to handle buses.


    January 16, 2012 at 1:28 pm

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