Wednesday, August 29, 2012

B lines in Greater Victoria

In Vancouver there have been some very successful bus routes called B-Lines that in one case carries more passengers than most LRTs.   T

  • 97 B-Line - 6,000 passenger per day  11 km and 22 stops
  • 98 B-Line - 18,000 passenger per day  16 km and 22 stops - no longer operating replaced by Canada Line
  • 99 B-Line - 50,000 passengers per day 13 km and 13 stops

The 97 B-Line is not really like the others, they use traditional buses and stop every 500 metres which reduces the speed.

The 98 B-Line was replaced by the Canada Line.   The Canada Line took over the Richmond commuter traffic from the 98 B-Line but also all the traffic from 10 suburban routes from Delta and South Surrey/White Rock representing about 10,000 other passengers.

The line that impresses me is the 99 B-Line.  The 99 B-Line is very successful.  It carries the most passenger per day of any bus route in North America

I lived near Broadway for a number of years in the early 1990s.  I took the #9 bus from Kits to get to Commercial Drive a few times and it was an insanely long trip.  A friend figured out it was faster to take a bus downtown then take the SkyTrain.   This is no longer nessecary becuase of how much faster the 99 B-Line is.   The 99 B-Line route overlaps with the #9 for a significant amount of distance.   In the morning rush the #9 tales 56 minutes to get from Rupert to Alma, the 99 B-Line does the same trip in 29 minutes which is almost twice as fast.

The reason it is faster is because it stops on average only every 1000 meters.   They use an articulated bus which can carry about 120 people and have three doors for people to enter and exit.   As long as you have a transfer or transit pass you can enter through any of the doors and this speeds up how long the bus is at any given stop.  The only thing that would increase the speed further would be to provide machines to sell tickets at the bus stops.

We have a few so called express routes in Victoria.  The #15x follows much of the same route as the #14 between downtown and UVic and the #16x follows a similar route as the #26 route from UpTown to UVic.

The #14 takes 27 minutes during the morning rush to get from Downtown to UVic, that is an average speed of 18 kmh.   The #15, which does not do go up Richmond, does the trip in 22 minutes which is a speed of only 22 kmh.  The #15x has fewer stops but there are still 12 stops over 8 kilometers.

The #26 takes 25 minutes to get from UpTown to UVic during the morning rush, this is a speed of 17 kmh.  The #16 does a similar trip in 22 minutes which is a speed of 19 kmh.  The #16x only has five stops so it does address the issue of limited stops.  The increased speed of the #16 seems to mainly come from not using Saanich Road between UpTown and McKenzie.

BC Transit should look to using the same buses as Vancouver and allow people to get on and off through all three doors to allow for a faster unloading/loading at each stop.   Based on watching buses at busy stops, it can take 60 to 90 seconds for the bus to unload and load.  If you can reduce that to 30 seconds you can save a few minutes on each trip.

Also helpful would be some bus lane areas along the routes where the traffic holds up everyone.  That said, one of the worst areas is McKenzie near Quadra and I have no idea where you could add some form of bus lane advantage in that area.

Even slightly faster buses would add capacity to the system because the bus in use can service more passengers in one hour than otherwise.  It would help a lot with the problem of lack of capacity for students.
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