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Bus Speed and Reliability

RapidBus stopping to pick up riders

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    Buses are the workhorses of the transit network. However, traffic congestion greatly affects the speed and reliability of buses and increases the cost of transit services. This reduces the amount of service that TransLink can provide.

    We collaborate closely with municipalities to assess opportunities for projects aimed at improving bus travel times for customers while also improving access and people-moving capacity of roads. A more connected and accessible transit network benefits all members of our community.

    2023 Bus Speed & Reliability Report

    The Bus Priority Vision

    Our aim over the next decade is to improve bus speed and reliability along our busiest transit corridors. TransLink’s Bus Priority Vision aligns closely with the Access for Everyone plan, addressing the region's long-term transportation needs. It proposes practical measures to efficiently manage our streets for a variety of uses. Whether it’s commuting or accessing essential services, our vision for bus priority ensures efficient and sustainable travel for everyone.

    TransLink’s Bus Speed & Reliability Report highlights the problem of bus delay. It studies the causes of delay and its impacts on both customers and operations – quantifying hotspots across the region. It also demonstrates how TransLink and our municipal partners have successfully reduced delays through significant investments in bus priority measures in recent years. Ultimately, the report supports and guides future investments to improve TransLink’s customer experience and operational efficiency.

    Bus Delays

    Buses carry more than 60% of transit customers in the region. When buses are slowed by traffic, it has a real impact on the lives of our customers. These delays also cost TransLink over $80 million per year simply to maintain bus frequencies.

    Bus Priority Infrastructure & Gaps

    TransLink has made significant investments in over 100 bus priority studies and projects in recent years, leading to a historic expansion of the bus priority network. These projects have improved customer travel times by up to 35% and can pay for themselves in just a few months as buses are used more efficiently.

    2023 Bus Speed & Reliability Report – Bus Priority Vision

    • Full Report with Appendices (high resolution)
    • For a more screen-reader-friendly and compressed version of the 2023 Bus Speed & Reliability report, please refer to the list of individual parts in PDF format below.

    Reports and Appendices

    Transit Priority Toolkit

    As a complement to the first Bus Speed and Reliability Report, TransLink created a Transit Priority Toolkit.

    The Transit Priority Toolkit provides TransLink and municipal partners with specific ways to improve travel time and reliability of transit service ranging from new designs for streets and bus stops to strategies for managing curbs, traffic, and signals.

    Both documents serve as guidance for TransLink and municipal partners to address region-wide bus speed and reliability for the more than 700,000 customers who ride the bus each day.

    Transit Priority Measures

    Small changes can make a big difference to your bus journey, especially along the region’s busiest corridors. That’s why, alongside larger-scale projects, we support the implementation of local, context-specific tools to improve your bus journey.

    Bus bulbs are sidewalk extensions that allow buses to serve customers from the travel lane. Bus bulbs improve travel time and reliability by eliminating delays caused by merging into and out of the travel lane at bus stops.

    This priority measure protects buses from reliability issues in congested periods, saving buses and transit customers between 15 to 30 seconds per stop, resulting in a 7% increase in bus speeds. Bus bulbs also create more space for waiting, walking, and physical distancing.

    Like bus bulbs, bus islands create additional space for transit passengers and amenities. They allow buses to serve customers while keeping bike lanes or multi-use paths clear for people biking or walking.

    Bus Island at Brentwood Station Bus Island at Brentwood Station

    Bus stop balancing (also called bus stop consolidation) includes thoughtful removal and/or relocation of bus stops along a corridor to achieve more consistent spacing, maintain convenient access, and provide faster, more reliable service. See where we’ve implemented bus stop balancing across the region.

    Bus lanes are traffic lanes that are reserved for buses and marked by signage or paint. Dedicated bus lanes are always exclusive to buses, while Business Access & Transit (BAT) lanes allow vehicles to make right turns. Peak-hour bus lanes allow for general use or parking during off-peak times.

    Bus lane at Lougheed Highway Bus lane at Lougheed Highway

    Queue jumps lanes are short, dedicated transit lanes (similar to approach lanes) or shared turn pockets paired with transit signal priority that allow transit vehicles to bypass traffic at an intersection.

    Queue jump on Lougheed Highway Queue jump on Lougheed Highway

    Turn restrictions limit left or right turns for general traffic to reduce delay for buses and other vehicles travelling along a corridor. Buses may be exempted from the restrictions.

    Metrotown transit signal Turn restriction at Metrotown

    All-door boarding is an operational policy that allows customers to board a bus at any open door.

    Passengers boarding on a bus from the back door

    RapidBus is a brand of TransLink’s bus service that improves customer experience via more widely spaced stops, all-door boarding, and extensive bus priority like queue jumps or bus lanes. RapidBus also runs with high frequency and has additional amenities at bus stops. Learn about more RapidBus.

    Exterior shot of RapidBus

    Bus Priority Projects

    Current Projects

    Commercial Project

    Route 20 provides service to the Commercial-Broadway Station, a key exchange point for the 99 B-line, Millennium and Expo Lines, and the future Millennium Line extension. While Route 20 remains one of the busiest routes in the region, with over 11,000 daily boardings in 2021, there is a lot of bus delay and unreliability throughout the Commercial Drive area.

    We are working in partnership with the City of Vancouver to introduce bus priority measures that will improve the speed and reliability of bus services on Commercial Drive. This includes consolidating the southbound East 2nd Avenue and East 4th Avenue bus stops into a single stop at southbound East 3rd Avenue, which will match the service provided in the northbound direction.

    Bus bulbs will also be installed at East 3rd Avenue, which will extend the sidewalk into the curb lane. These bus bulbs will provide more space for pedestrians on the sidewalk while improving bus speed and reliability. Buses will now be able to stop in the travel lane, which will reduce delays that result from pulling in and out of the curb lane.

    Find out more about bus priority improvements on Commercial Drive on the City of Vancouver’s project page.

    Past Projects

    Eastbound bus lane on E 3rd st / Cotton Rd, North Vancouver

    TransLink, in partnership with the City of North Vancouver, has completed significant improvements to the R2 Marine Drive RapidBus service, including an extension of the eastbound transit lane from Queensbury Avenue to Gladstone Avenue. These enhancements will save eastbound travelers up to six minutes during peak hours, benefiting approximately 40,000 monthly riders. The $2.3 million investment, the largest since RapidBus's inception in 2020, not only speeds up transit times but also includes over 200 meters of separated bike lanes, contributing to a more connected and sustainable city. This project is a key step in TransLink's broader strategy to build towards improvements in the RapidBus network.

    Hwy 99 Bus lanes on shouldered (funded and delivered by MOTI)

    TransLink, and the Ministry of Transportation Infrastructure (MOTI), have successfully completed a $5.2 million bus transit improvement project along the Hwy 99/Bridgeport corridor. This project adds 8.4 kilometers of bus-on-shoulder lanes, widens Hwy 17A by 350 meters, and introduces a 154-meter Bridgeport Bus-Only Ramp. These enhancements will significantly reduce travel times for eight bus routes (311, 351, 352, 354, 601, 602, 605, and the 620) during peak hours and include a multi-use pathway near Hwy 99 and Patterson Road for cyclists and pedestrians. These upgrades benefit 16,000 daily transit users, and are part of a broader initiative to improve bus travel times to enhance the overall transit experience in the region.

    In addition to these improvements, TransLink is also funding a bus-only southbound left turn at Great Canadian Way and Bridgeport Road, slated for completion in 2024. This extension is expected to benefit an additional 6,000 transit riders, further enhancing the efficiency of the transit system. By focusing on bus priority improvements along high-frequency corridors, TransLink continues its commitment to developing transit-oriented, livable communities, and improving the travel experience for a growing number of commuters in the region.

    Bus Lane on Willingdon Avenue and Lougheed Highway

    The City of Burnaby and Translink have collaborated to install a northbound bus lane on Willingdon Avenue, a major intersection that connects Burnaby to key destinations. This bus lane allows buses to bypass the NB queue to reach to Brentwood Station Bay 1, a stop that connects routes 130, 136, 222 to other bus routes and the Millennium Line. In this segment, WB right turning traffic from Lougheed Highway no longer blocks bus access, decreasing delay for bus passengers waiting for and commuting on the three bus routes.

    Route 80

    On April 17th, 2023, Translink announced the launch of the 80 Marine Drive Express, a new express bus route connecting the River District to Marine Drive Station in Vancouver. Operating on weekdays from 6 a.m. to 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. to 6 p.m., the route stops at key intersections on Marine Drive at Kerr St, Elliott St, Victoria Dr, Knight St, Fraser St, and Main St. This service not only provides a direct link to the SkyTrain’s Canada Line for River District residents, but also complements the existing 100 (22nd Street Station / Marpole Loop) and 31 (River District / Metrotown Station) routes.

    The introduction of the 80 Marine Drive Express is made possible with travel time savings from the Bus Stop Balancing program. This program, which involves the consolidation of stops significantly improving travel times and reliability across several Vancouver routes. The program has trimmed about 6 minutes per round trip on routes like the 4 (Powell / Downtown / UBC) and the 7 (Nanaimo Station / Dunbar), allowing for service optimization with fewer buses. These savings have been reinvested into launching the new 80 route, demonstrating the importance of bus stop balancing not just for operational efficiency, but also for expanding service in growing communities like the River District.

    Looking ahead, Marine Drive is identified in Transport 2050 as a future RapidBus and Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) corridor, and the 80 route is a key step in building ridership in preparation for these long-term transit improvements.

    Related Documents

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