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Translink Buzzer Blog

Category: Managing the Transit Network

Delegations from around the globe travel to Vancouver to meet with TransLink


Left to Right: Guy Akester, Derrick Cheung, Ian Jarvis, Ibrahim Aleid, Saud Al-Saud, Ibrahim Alrajeh, Yosef Aljallal and Yosef AlBanumay.


Did you know that delegations from around the world, including Thailand, Sweden, Australia, Japan and Korea, visited TransLink in 2014 to learn about Metro Vancouver’s integrated transportation network?

Metro Vancouver’s transit system has an international reputation for excellence and TransLink’s ability to deliver transit-oriented development investment attracts interest near and far.

A delegation from Riyadh, the capital city of Saudi Arabia, was in Vancouver this fall. Five delegates met with TransLink’s real estate group, planning and infrastructure management teams, and the Transit Police.

Ibrahim Aleid, Director of Metropolitan Planning and Urban Design at the Riyadh Development Authority says that TransLink is well regarded globally for delivering an efficient and integrated transportation network that is shaping world class transit oriented communities.

“We are developing a transit system in Riyadh and we hope to learn from the success of Metro Vancouver in creating the necessary conditions to foster and promote highly innovative transit-oriented communities and developments.”


What is a transit-oriented development?

Transit-oriented developments enable people to drive less, and walk, cycle and take transit more; and therefore maximize the value of transit investments. TransLink works in collaboration with public and private sector partners to enable the Metro Vancouver region to realize the benefits of transit-oriented communities and foster transit-oriented development.

Since 2011, development near transit has grown exponentially. There are now 35 development projects in construction or planning stages—significantly more than the handful of projects that existed from 1986-2011.


Storify: Rethinking Transportation lecture #1

Hello Buzzer readers! I hope you had a chance to attend the first lecture yesterday in the series “Rethinking Transportation: New Voices, New Ideas” that took place last night at SFU Woodwards. The lecture, Breaking the Political Gridlock to Address the Transportation Challenge: Lessons Learned from the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area, by Dr. Anne Golden, was streamed live and the video will be available shortly – I’ll keep you posted. The lecture generated great conversation about transportation and a great part of it is reflected in the tweets in this storify.

The next lecture is on Feb 25, 2014. Check this link for more info.

Breaking the Political Gridlock to Address the Transportation Challenge: Lessons Learned from the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area, by Dr. Anne Golden on January 28 was the first lecture in the new series of lectures on transportation. The next lecture is on Feb 25. Info:

Service optimization 2013: your feedback helps move bus changes forward

TransLink service optimization consultations 2012

A snap from one of our service optimization consultations in fall 2012.

Heads up: after a ton of consultation, we’ve now finalized plans for bus service changes slated for late 2013.

You can now download the full report that details our updated plans for major bus route changes in 2013, and summarizes the public feedback!

Here’s a quick recap of what we’re talking about:

  • Service optimization is the ongoing TransLink program looking at how to make the best use of our transit resources, guided by 10 principles confirmed by the public.
  • For optimization in 2013, TransLink staff proposed changes to 34 bus routes across the region.
  • We did extensive public consultation on our proposals from November-December 2012. (11 open houses! Online questionnaire! More than 800 comments received!)
  • Based on this feedback, we’ve modified some of our proposals and confirmed the others.
  • And on Monday Feb 25, we’ve posted our Consultation Summary report at, which details our updated plans for bus route changes, and summarizes public feedback.

Not in place until late 2013/early 2014, and changes vs cuts

Now all caps for the important bit: THESE CHANGES ARE NOT SLATED TO TAKE PLACE UNTIL LATE 2013/EARLY 2014! They likely won’t go ahead until December 2013 at the earliest, given the time needed to get bus stops and vehicles in place and allow for more detailed planning and scheduling.

And another all caps: THESE ARE BUS CHANGES, NOT CUTS. These changes don’t reduce the overall transit service hours in the region—instead, they reallocate the hours to better match where people are travelling. Put another way: there are reductions of some services, but in most cases they are matched by reinvestments of service in the same area (or a redesign of the services to better match the area).

Your feedback spurs revised proposals

Most of our proposed changes went over quite well, but a few drew a significant response.

So we’ve revised several proposals based on public feedback, including:

  • C1/C2 – a revised proposal was developed in consultation with community groups in Burnaby Heights, retaining the current route and reducing frequencies during off-peak periods only [link to revised proposal PDF (will be under Burnaby arrow on service op page)]
  • 211 – based on the range of concerns raised over the proposed removal of the Fairway Drive loop, we will be retaining the existing route instead
  • C48 & C49 – a revised proposal was created to ensure service coverage in Thornhill, Ruskin and Whonnock is maintained, leaving the C49 unchanged and improving the usefulness of the C48 with a connection to West Coast Express and extension via McClure Drive in Albion [link to revised proposal PDF (will be under Maple Ridge arrow on service op page)]

Again, you can see all the details over at!

Thank you

Finally, we’d like to give a huge shout-out to everyone who participated in the service optimization process. Your contributions help us build real transit solutions that work for our communities!

And we’re happy to say that so far, service optimization has been returning successful results. In 2011, the program helped TransLink provide 14 million new rides without added investment in service, increasing bus productivity by 3.1 per cent and generating a 5.5 per cent increase in transit revenue.

Feel free to leave any questions or followups in the comments!

The final stage: making transit service decisions

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 22-24 in the Managing the Transit Network primer.

There's a lot to consider when making the final decision about a transit service.

When TransLink planners evaluate a potential change to a transit service, they’re usually looking to achieve one of three main objectives, while keeping in mind the four design themes, and nine route design considerations. But what’s the process like for deciding what changes go ahead? How do they come to a decision about which services will be added, changed or reduced?

Service changes are made four times a year: in April, June, September and December. But decisions need to be made well in advance to allow time for operations planning, scheduling, and in some cases infrastructure changes or fleet procurement. They don’t take these decisions lightly. That’s why planners ask themselves the following four questions for each service change they look at.

Read more »

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 »

All about managing the transit network: an interview with senior planner Peter Klitz

A detail from the cover of our Managing the Network primer.

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.

How do we design our transit network? What principles are behind building a good bus route? And does the layout of a city affect how well transit can serve its citizens?

We’ve aimed to answer all these questions and more as part of a new program called Managing the Transit Network. It’s an evolution of our Service Optimization program, which we’ve talked about before on the blog—and a big part is about helping the public understand the principles and evidence behind our work.

Check out the new Managing the Transit Network section of our website for many more details, especially:

  • the Managing the Transit Network primer: an easy-to-read booklet about our transit planning goals and principles
  • the Bus System Performance Review: a detailed performance report for 2011, plus a series of route-by-route technical summaries identifying just how our system is performing

And you can also join us for a multi-part Managing the Transit Network series on the blog in the coming weeks, exploring the concepts behind transit system planning. Think of it as a mini “Transit Planning 101″ class—we’ll have lots of examples, expert advice from our planning staff, and discussion questions for everyone to think about!

To get us started, I asked senior planner Peter Klitz to walk us through the concept behind Managing the Transit Network, and a bit of context and explanations for the primer and bus system performance reviews.

Read more »