Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Why not Bus Rapid Transit?

Over and over again there are people saying we need to go to a rail based rapid transit system in this region but no one ever explains why this would be better than a bus rapid transit system.

In Vancouver there have been bus rapid transit lines in use for some years now the first being the 99 B-Line started in September 1996 along Broadway to UBC.   The 98 B-Line operated along Granville to Richmond from 2001 until the Canada Line opened last year.   The 97 B-Line runs where the Evergreen Line will eventually operate.

The 99 B-Line moves about 45,000 people a day which is about 40% of what all of BC Transit carries in the CRD.   The 97 B-Line moves a lot less but would still be a very significant route.   Surveys done in the past found that about 20% of the riders in the B-Lines are new to transit.  

The major reason the B-Lines have worked well is that follow the existing traffic, they do not try to create it.   UBC is a major daily destination for people in the lower mainland and it is way off on the western edge of the region.  There are plans for two new B-Lines, the 95 B-Line to run along Hastings out to SFU and the 91 B-Line to run along 41st out to UBC.   As you can see both lines are connected to the two largest universities in Metro Vancouver.  

Over in Kelowna this fall they started a new bus rapid line, the 97X which goes from UBC Okanagan to downtown and will eventually go over the lake to West Kelowna.   This service is once again following existing traffic.  The system will be fully built out for less than $65,000,000.   The current 15 kilometre stretch has been put into service for $21,500,000.

The Seattle region is currently adding bus rapid transit to the choices in their mix

Bus rapid transit can easily and quickly be put into operation.   It is capable of a decent speed and it is flexible in how it and where it operates.   Best of all, because it is much cheaper to implement you can do offer a lot more rapid transit.

A bus rapid transit line to the Westshore would mean there should be no reason BC Transit could not be immediately looking at bus rapid transit to UVic.   UVic to Uptown and then downtown strikes me as an obvious line that should be under consideration right now.  It is also a line that would have enough traffic from day one to pay for the cost of operations.

If our goal is to improve transit in this region soon, there really is no case for anything other than a bus rapid transit system that makes any sense.
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