Thursday, September 13, 2012

Some sanity in Victoria Transit thinking - rush hour bus only lanes on Douglas?


The Victoria Regional Transit Commission has seen the light and wants to have rush hour bus lanes on Douglas Street.   This is something that should have happened a decade ago.   The cost is minimal and it will speed up transit meaning the existing fleet will be able to move more traffic.  It seems so obvious, but is it really a great idea?

Just by having the bus lanes from about Hillside to Saanich Road should improve the travel times of buses outbound but by how much?  If we look to the #30 and see how it does from Douglas and Pandora to Saanich and Vernon, it is 16 to 17 minutes mid day and 19 minutes at peak time.   The bus lanes might improve the trip time by three minutes.  

 Westshore commuting is the worst in this region so how does the #50 do?  According to the newest schedule, mid day headed out of town the #50 takes 19 minutes to get from Government and Superior to Douglas and Saanich, at the worst time during the peak hours this takes 21 minutes.  The bus lanes would seem to save you about two minutes.   End to end the route takes 47 minutes during non peak times and 56 for the worst trips in the afternoon.   The majority of the delay are the waits at Tillicum and at McKenzie and not Douglas itself.

I am assuming the BC Transit current schedule is accurate on the website reflecting real travel times.  If it is not, we should be told how often the traffic causes the buses to be late on the run.

Painting these lines to make the bus lanes does not seem to offer much in savings so why do it all?  It seems to me the real savings comes in speed in connection to Tillicum and McKenzie.

The province could step up and take part by making some new bus lanes on highway #1.   There is enough space between Saanich road and McKenzie/Admirals to allow for an outbound bus lane all of the way except where it crosses Interurban, that would take another land of bridge to be constructed which would really add to the expense.   This should improve trip times by five to seven minutes.

What about looking at Blanshard which is far from overused even at peak times.  If BC Transit were to shift the Westshore buses to run up Blanshard I think the traffic there may be light enough and fast enough to allow for some savings, but looking at the schedules I can not be sure.  What I do see is that the #70x is faster than the #72 by about three minutes in getting from  Government and Superior to Douglas and Kings which I put down to fewer stops downtown but not faster after that.  The Blanshard times seem to be broadly similar to the Douglas times but i can not be certain.

In the end, are the bus lanes worth it on Douglas is the potential savings is only likely to be 2 minutes?  Is it worth the expense and hassles?
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