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The Frequent Transit Network map

Quick and reliable transit service revealed on a map!

The term “Frequent Transit Network” or “FTN” has been mentioned a few times on the blog. As explained on the TransLink website, the FTN “… is a network of corridors where transit service runs at least every 15 minutes in both directions throughout the day and into the evening, every day of the week.”

Besides the convenience of knowing that transit will be there every 15 minutes, the FTN makes public transit easier for these corridors since planning your trip is as simple as showing up at your stop (provided a maximum of 15 minutes is not too long of a wait for what you want to do). TransLink has just release a map of the TransLink FTN. The Human Transit blog (written by author and transit planner extraordinaire Jarrett Walker) has also recently posted about our FTN map. For more info on the map, you can check out the dedicated FTN page on the TransLink website, which speaks to the benefits the network’s benefits to not only users but for municipalities and developers.

Showing is always better than just telling, so please download the map, and let us know what you think!

Share your thoughts on the future of transportation in the region


2045 Employment & Population Projection map - from the regional and economic growth backgrounder document of the Regional Transportation Strategy

2045 Employment & Population Projection map – from the regional and economic growth backgrounder document of the related documents section of the Regional Transportation Strategy

Post by TransLink communications advisor Borjana Slipicevic

TransLink is updating Transport 2040, with the current Regional Transportation Strategy (RTS) and we are looking for your feedback.

By 2045, Metro Vancouver is expected to welcome one million additional residents, adding 500,000 jobs and three million more passenger trips every day. We can’t have all of those people travelling the same way we do today and keep our quality of life. Improving our system in a way that protects our health, economy, environment and our future is more important than ever.

To ensure that we can achieve all that our region aspires to and within the resources available, we need to start rethinking transportation. We are proposing an approach where we make the most of existing investments, and plan new ones around more walking, cycling and transit.

At the same time, we need to provide more management measures, such as better information, regulation and pricing so people have the tools to make different travel choices. We are also committed to working closely with local governments to encourage community plans that locate jobs, housing and services closer to the frequent transit network.

How to get involved?

We have started a dialogue on this proposed approach and would like to hear from you. Please go to, to learn more and read the Draft Strategic Framework for Consultation. Between now and July 8, 2013 you can share your perspectives via an online questionnaire.

Your input is important to us, and will help us finalize the strategic framework and develop an implementation strategy that includes investment options for the future. This is just the beginning. We will continue this conversation in the fall of 2013.


Building a better transit line: how location and land use make or break good transit service

Buses on the 9 and the 99 routes battling traffic.

This post is part of a series about Managing the Transit Network: all about how TransLink plans transit service in our region. See all the past blog posts in the series here.

This post covers pages 12-21 in the Managing the Transit Network primer.

So far in our series, we’ve talked about the overall goals and challenges for transit planning. And we’ve looked at the broad themes we keep in mind when we design a transit network. (We also did an interview with the planning team behind this project!)

But in this post, we’re going to take a look at transit planning on the street level. That is, how do we design a good bus route or transit line? (And by “good,” we mean “a transit line that serves lots of people for as much of the day as possible.”)

Well, there IS an actual answer. Generally, we try to design a transit line with nine specific elements to make it likely to serve lots of people almost all the time. They are:

  • Serve areas of strong demand
  • Have strong anchors at both ends
  • Be as direct, simple, consistent and legible as possible
  • Maintain speed and reliability along the entire route
  • Avoid duplication or competition between transit services
  • Match service levels to demand
  • Have balanced loads in each direction
  • Experience an even distribution of stop activity
  • Have an even distribution of ridership by time of day

We’ll talk about each of these elements in more detail below. But eagle eyes will already note that locations and land use of the existing environment play a big role in making a transit line a success!

Read more »

Layers of design: guiding themes for planning a transit network

The numerous layers of our transit network

This post is part a series about Managing the Transit Network: all about how TransLink plans transit service in our region. Click here to see all the posts.

When we plan our transit network, we have three main objectives: to maximize ridership, encourage long-term ridership growth and provide access to transit service across the region. With these objectives in mind, we employ four design themes that contribute to the overall network design.

Interdependence/Network Integration

Good network design requires thinking about the network as more than just a collection of isolated single transit lines. It means recognizing that each transit line influences and depends on the others. For a network to be useful, it is integral that all the parts work together and complement each other.

Networks by nature connect. The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines a network as, “a fabric or structure of cords or wires that cross at regular intervals and are knotted or secured at the crossings.” That fabric/structure in Metro Vancouver consists of cycling infrastructure, rapid transit, frequent transit, local transit service and road and pedestrian infrastructure. This, of course, includes SkyTrain lines, bus lines as well as cycling and pedestrians paths.

Everyone would love to have a direct one-seat ride from their home to work, but that simply isn’t doable with public transit, since we all live and work in different places. TransLink tries to help people get where they want to go quickly and efficiently by providing high-frequency service between key connection points (the knotted crossings of the dictionary definition) in the transit network. The inconvenience of having to transfer is often overcome by shorter wait times, leading to faster travel times overall. Jarrett Walker’s blog explains transit networks versus no-transfer service very well. Read more »

Big goals, big challenges: what we think about when planning the transit network

The 17 UBC out and about in 2010. (The route is now the 14 UBC, but it's still a great photo of one of our buses out in normal traffic!)

This post is first in a series about Managing the Transit Network: all about how TransLink plans transit service in our region. See all the blog posts in the series here.

By Tina Robinson

Since I started working at TransLink, many of my friends and family have told me what they think is wrong (and right) with our transit system. And I’ve been told all the solutions as well: “You guys should just run a few extra buses on that route.” Or, “All you have to do is run more buses in the morning that way and more buses in the afternoon the other way.” And, of course, “I would take transit more if the bus came more often where I live.”

What I’ve come to realize is that managing a transit network isn’t so simple, especially when resources are limited. There are a lot of factors that go into deciding where transit should go and the level of service to provide. TransLink’s new Managing the Transit Network primer  describes what our planners think about when they design services and what makes a transit network work well. We’re going to break down the primer over the next few weeks in a series of blog posts.

In this post, we’re looking at the objectives we think about when we design and manage the transit network. And, more significantly, the challenge we face in balancing all three.

Read more »

Park and rides: let’s talk about them

CBC Video of an interview with Jason Martin, TransLink’s communications manager, about future park and ride policy.

It seems like lots of local media are talking about TransLink and park and ride policy these days!

So we wanted to take a moment to talk about our approach to park and rides, and the South Surrey Park and Ride situation.

First, check out the news video above from CBC, and have a look through these park and ride articles about South Surrey and more:

And let’s talk more about park and rides below.

Read more »

New wayfinding signage is going up around the region

Old and new bus stop signs in North Vancouver. You can hardly see the old sign!

Astute riders may have noticed some new signage up at bus stops and transit exchanges in the region lately! It’s all part of our new wayfinding strategy, designed to help everyone better understand the transit system. (For more, check out Robert’s overview post on the strategy here.)

I got planner Jeff Deby to help explain what new signage is out there right now. Here we go!

Read more »

North Shore Area Transit Plan

The longer I spend at TransLink, the more I realize how much work is put towards planning for the future of transit. Besides the day-to-day monitoring of bus routes and flow of customers, planners are constantly looking to the future of transit. Part of this process includes putting together a coordinated plan for all the communities TransLink services.

Teresa O'Reilly in front of some work on the NSATP

Starting today, TransLink is announcing Phase 3 of the four-phased North Shore Area Transit Plan (NSATP). In late 2010, analysis of the current network was carried out as Phase 1 of the plan. Phase 2, completed from January to June 2011, was the development of a long-term vision for the next 30 years. Phase 3 starts in January and goes until June 2012. Phase 4 is the monitoring phase, which will continue until the planning process begins again.  To find out more about these plans, I sat down with Teresa O’Reilly. Teresa is the Manager of the Area Transit Plan Program. Read more »

Links and tidbits for Tue Feb 1, 2011

I saw this written on a bus window this winter :)

Tidbits and links on transportation from the last little while!

If you have any items to suggest, or a photo to showcase on these posts, e-mail me at! (Seriously: photos. Send them to me!)

Links and tidbits for Thu Dec 2

Tidbits and links rounded up about transportation in the past week. These are fun. I promise.

If you have any items to suggest, or a photo to showcase on these posts, e-mail me at! (Seriously: good photos. These posts need them. Send them along!)

CUTA 2010: Transit Oriented Development and Land Use Policies

The moderator for the Transit-Oriented Development session

As mentioned, the Canadian Urban Transit Association’s 2010 fall conference is in Vancouver this week! Thus I attended a morning session called Transit Oriented Development (TOD) and Land Use Policies — Positioning Transit at the Centre of Communities, featuring presentations by TransLink, Calgary Transit, and the Toronto Transit Commission (TTC).

Transit-oriented development is the creation of mixed-use commercial or residential areas where it’s easy to walk, cycle or take transit to reach the things you need. Everyone spoke to the challenge of matching transit plans to land-use plans made by cities, sister agencies, or other bodies in your region to help these developments happen. And as we all know, an effective transportation plan can’t really be made without the support of a good land-use plan to outline densities, adequate destinations, and more.

Herewith are my notes, and as always, corrections are welcome!

Read more »

Links and tidbits for Wed Aug 25

Tidbits and links! If you have any to suggest, or a photo to showcase on these posts, e-mail me at I’m especially in need of good photos to showcase.

Frequent transit service maps: a suggested map from David M

A frequent transit map drawn by David M. Click for a larger version!

Inspired by from Jarrett Walker’s two discussions last week, David M put together his own attempt at a frequent transit network map. Here’s what he wrote about it:

Okay, so Jarrett inspired me to work on developing a revised transit map for Vancouver. Of course I haven’t mapped the entire region, but I did a sample around Richmond and the airport.

Going in, I decided I wanted to use line width to denote service frequency expectations and I settled on three categories – Frequent, Standard and Limited (sort of like freeway, main road and side street). Then I decided to use colour to denote how long the services operate (5am to 3:30am, 6am to 11pm or later, 6am to 6pm, peak hours and night only). Of course, no route really fits these exactly, but it is a guide as to what you can generally expect.

The darker blue and the fatter the line, you know you’ll get a bus most times of the day and generally won’t have to wait too long. The thinner the line, the chances are you’ll need to check the schedule to make sure the bus runs when you want to travel.

I’ve also included express buses using dashed lines, or where the express is operating on a route covered by a local, using express bus stop symbols that denote whether the express is Frequent or Standard. The express stops are colour coded the same as the lines to give you an idea of when they run. A big fat square express stop means you can just show up and know you’ll get a bus without much of a wait; a diamond express stop means you might want to check the schedule. A symbol could be developed for limited express services too (such as peak hours only).

Anyway – I know there’s a lot of work on colour selection and line thickness and I’m sure this can be improved. I haven’t included all the detail, such as station names and I’ve only shown the Skytrain in one colour, but using the line thickness clue same as the buses. Using this, I would probably show SeaBus as “Standard Service” in light-blue and West Coast Express as “Limited Service” in a narrow dashed red line (as it is peak only and in one direction only).

If you feel it’s worth it, please share with your readers, I’m interested in feedback via the blog, but I have no plans to make any changes or expand it. I just wanted to see what it could look like. Somebody else can if they want and I’ll gladly send them the svg file.

David’s sent over the SVG file, so if you want it, feel free to drop me a note! You can also check out this past post for more on homegrown frequent transit maps of the Vancouver region.

Jarrett Walker talks to our staff about public transport branding (and more!)

Title slide from Jarrett Walker's lunchtime talk at TransLink.

Jarrett Walker

It’s going to be an impromptu Jarrett Walker week here at the Buzzer blog. Jarrett, who you all may know from his blog, has two talks on in Vancouver this week, so I have multiple posts planned with his always-insightful thoughts!

On Tuesday, Jarrett gave a lunch talk at TransLink on the topic “Public Transport Branding – What Matters to the Customer?” So here are my notes on what he spoke about. Briefly: the presentation part was relatively short (although of course thought-provoking) and the rest of the time was spent answering all of our questions about signage, branding, and more. Jarrett’s an excellent speaker and just can’t seem to stop offering insightful answers about transport planning. (By the way, if you didn’t know already: Jarrett was a consultant with TransLink not long ago, and had a big hand in helping put together our “Frequent Transit Network” (FTN) concept — the network of roads where transit service is so frequent you can just show up there to catch a bus without checking a schedule. So he knows our system quite well!)

Read more »

APTA Rail 2010: It Takes a Region: Integrating rail investment in multimodal plans and programs

The multimodal planning discussion.

The multimodal planning discussion.

“It Takes a Region: Integrating rail investment in multimodal plans and programs” had four speakers that included our VP of Planning Mike Shiffer, so I dropped in on the session on Monday.

The speakers were:
– Charles R Goodman, director, office of system planning, FTA, Washington D.C.
– Gregory A. Walker, AICP, Planning and Development Director, Sound Transit, Seattle WA
– Richard F. Clarke, Assistant General Manager Capital Programs, RTD, Denver CO
– Dr Michael Shiffer, VP Planning, Strategy , and Technology, TransLink, Burnaby BC

They each brought a wide variety of perspectives to the table on this topic! Some were more like project updates than explorations of multimodal integration, but that was OK (and still interesting).

Here are my notes from the session. Things I thought were notable include:
a) the cost of rail projects anywhere is always in the billions of dollars,
b) sales tax sources can be quite unstable sources of revenue
c) Seattle has two floating bridges and one is slated for a light rail line
d) Denver’s project motto for their rail project is awesome: BUILD AS MUCH AS WE CAN, AS FAST AS WE CAN, UNTIL IT IS ALL DONE (it was indeed written in all caps)

Read more »