Many of our bus routes have remained more or less the same for long periods of time, maybe it is time to question this and see if there are ways to improve the use of current buses and reduce costs?
I live in the Gorge part of the city and one of the bus routes in this area is the #11. For a long time I have wondered about the strange jog it does at the end of it's route in this part of the town. If you are going to Tillicum Mall you are better off getting off at Gorge and Tillicum and walking about 600 meters than staying on the bus.
I can understand the desire to have the #11 bus go along Gorge Road to Admirals and then via Cowper and Obed to get to Tillicum Mall but does it have to do so going to and coming from the mall? The time it takes to make that loop through the neighbourhood takes about 12 minutes leaving Tillicum Mall and 10 minutes going to Tillicum Mall. That is a significant amount of time and it strikes me that it should be possible to improve this by only going through the Gorge neighbourhood one way and not both ways.
If one were eliminate the outbound trip through the neighbourhood and have the #11 go down Tillicum Road and then turn left onto Gorge Road, this would save BC Transit about 3600 to 4000 service hours per year. At about $100 per hour that would be a savings of around $360,000 to $400,000 a year.
Why might this not work? I assume that the stop at Tillicum Mall is a rest stop for the bus drivers. With a one way loop on a route it is is not ideal stop for a rest for the drivers within the loop. For the idea of a one way loop to work there would have to be continuous service on the route to ensure everyone can still get on a bus and get to their destination. For people along the route this would add some time to their daily commute.
I do not think this has to be an insurmountable barrier to making some sort of change to keep service the same but reduce operating hours. One possible solution I can think of off the top of my head would be to alter the route of the #22 a bit and have it go via Tillicum Mall then to Obed and Cowper to get to Admirals so it can run north through to Burnside again.
Another improvement that could be made at Tillicum Mall to reduce travel times would be to allow buses to use Bodega to get into and out of the mall from Obed. The route via Bodega is shorter than the current route. The change also has benefits because it avoids the short section of Tillicum Road that is reasonably busy.
Leaving the mall the current #11 only needs to make right hand turns and is not held up for too long though the light at Tillicum Road and Maddock/Arena will often cause a wait. Going to the mall is where more time is saved. The bus has a left hand turn from Obed onto Tillicum and then a left hand from Tillicum Road onto Maddock/Arena Road - these left hand turns take time.
Even if there were no other changes to the #11 route, making this change at Bodega should save several minutes per trip and that alone could save about 1000 service hours a year.