Metro Vancouver’s regional transportation provider last week adopted its priorities for the next 10 years. While some well-known projects like SkyTrain to UBC and SFU gondola were near the top of the list, much of the planning document is dedicated to smaller, cheaper improvements to the system.
TransLink’s Transport 2050: 10 Years of Priority document is what the transportation agency calls in a press release an “unprecedented increase in local bus service,” with new or improved local service in nearly two dozen neighborhoods, as well as 11 new RapidBus lines and seven new express buses. .
Overall, TransLink estimates its priority is a 130 percent increase in bus service through Metro Vancouver.
Part of this increase is intended to pave the way for the introduction of Bus Rapid Transit (BRT). TransLink says “up to nine” BRT lines could be developed in the next decade, although the actual total and schedule will depend on local government support.
The BRT Line is, essentially, a bus that operates as if it were a SkyTrain. BRT buses operate on existing routes, but in designated lanes separate from regular traffic. They serve stations, rather than roadside stops, with real-time schedule information and fare payment at the station.
BRT lines also have signal priority at intersections, which reduces the amount of time passengers spend when stopping at red lights.
The planning document defines nine “BRT filter lanes” and calls on TransLink to “identify conceptual requirements, such as alignment, right-of-way, and route reallocation needs” for each.
The first actual implementation of BRT in the region will not occur until the TransLink Investment Plan 2025, when two to four lines will be prioritized “based on candidate corridors that have strong local government support and a high probability of successful implementation.”
The transit agency notes that support from municipalities for conceptual requirements, “particularly the allocation of road space,” will be a major consideration in the planning process.
The nine candidate lanes are as follows:
- Hastings Street, to replace the current R5 RapidBus
- King George Boulevard from Surrey to White Rock
- Haney Place in Langley, serving 200th Street, Golden Ears and Lougheed Expressway
- Lougheed Expressway, replacing the current R3 RapidBus
- Lynn Valley, Lonsdale, and Downtown Vancouver across the Lions Gate Bridge
- From Marine Drive Station to 22nd Street Station via Marine Way
- From Metrotown to Park Royal via Second Narrows
- Richmond Center to Metrotown via the Knight Street Bridge
- Scott Road in Surrey, to replace the planned R6 RapidBus
“The heavy emphasis on BRT in these 10-year priorities is for good reason,” the planning document states.
“While Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) requires that traffic lanes be reallocated to designated routes to operate BRT, its lower cost means we can provide rapid, frequent and reliable transportation more quickly and affordably and to more areas of the region than would otherwise be possible. The rail-only approach In this way, our region can almost double its rapid transit network within 10 short years.”
TransLink’s plans call for BRT buses to be zero-emissions vehicles with “spacious” interiors.