Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Quick Transit Thoughts

The other day I was in Vancouver and used the bus to get into to town. From the ferry I caught the 620 as far as Airport Station - a relatively quick 30 minutes. There I changed to the 98 B line which had me downtown 25 minutes later. I am impressed with the speed that these express bus routes work, I was also impressed with the number of people riding on the buses, they were full mid day.

I like the fact that we now have the same sort of thing here in Victoria with the number 70 to the ferry, but we need more of this in the region. We need our own B lines or bus rapid transit.

UVic is a major regional destination for transit and I think should be considered for a Bus Rapid Transit route, limited stops along the way and quick on and off for passengers. In the core I could see a circle route using something similar to the the #26 route, then the #6 route from Esquimalt to Downtown and from there Fort to Foul Bay and up to UVic or some other route that makes sense. The route would run in both directions and the bus stops could have the sort of information signs that the B Lines have in Vancouver.

How far apart for the bus stops? UVic, University Heights, Mackenzie and Quadra, Town and Country, Tillicum should give you a sense of the spacing that would make sense to me.

Many of the buses to and from UVic are already operating at their limits, a bus rapdi transit to UVic would allow more people to be moved to UVic with the same number of buses as there are at the moment and do so faster. The higher efficiency would also mean a higher cost recovery for the system.

I would also link all minor lights to a GIS that tracks buses and extend or change a light to improve movement for the buses. A few minutes improvement over an hour for a bus is a an important efficiency for transit locally. An average five minute saving per hour would increase the system capacity by 8%, this is especially important during the morning and afternoon peak hours. Even a 3 minute per hour saving per bus would increase capacity by 5%. Once again, more people moved per hour without more resources means a higher cost recovery for the network and from this more resources for the system.

The federal and provincial governments are willing to put money into transit this year. Developing a bus rapid transit system and implementing it could be done very quickly and make use of the money available.

My fear is that the love of rail based transit and the desire for so many people to see it in this region will stop us from doing the bland nuts and bolts improvement transit could use in this region.
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