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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 also increases the cost of providing transit service. 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.

    2023 Bus Speed & Reliability Report

    TransLink’s Bus Speed & Reliability Report highlights the problem of bus delay. It summarizes the causes of this 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 by making significant investments in bus priority measures in recent years. Ultimately, the report provides support and guidance for 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 real impacts 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

    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

    Bus Bulbs and Turn Pockets on West 4th Avenue

    In partnership with the City of Vancouver, we constructed bus bulbs and turn pockets along West 4th Avenue, one of the busiest corridors in Kitsilano. Bus bulbs extended select curbs into the parking lane so that buses can pick up or drop off customers without exiting the travel lane. Bus bulbs are located at six locations along West 4th Avenue from Burrard to Vine St.

    Passenger getting off from the bus at a bus stop

    Right-turn pockets were also installed along the busiest part of West 4th, between Balsam and Burrard. These pockets make space for right-turning vehicles to wait until they can turn. This means those right-turning vehicles no longer block vehicles and buses in West 4th’s travel lanes, benefitting all road users.

    Bus Bulbs on Robson Street

    In August 2020, we collaborated with the City of Vancouver to add bus bulbs at Bute St, widening the sidewalk and waiting areas. These bus bulbs were installed in both the east and westbound directions as part of the plaza work on Robson Street.

    The temporary bulb at Burrard St (westbound), will undergo upgrades in 2023 to enhance its functionality and address any necessary repairs.

    The temporary bulb at Burrard St

    Temporary Bus bulbs on Main Street

    In September 2020, a temporary bus bulb was installed at the northbound bus stop on Main St and 14th Ave, next to the plaza, to address the need for more passenger space during the COVID-19 pandemic.

    The temporary materials allowed for quick and cost-effective installation. A permanent replacement is scheduled for fall 2024, offering an opportunity to make additional improvements to the street plaza.

    Temporary bus bulb on Main Street

    Related Documents

    Related documents icon


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