I’ve also got some more information about the overall service changes, and some highlights and further info behind many individual service improvements. Shall we?
About this round of changes…
- This is our biggest service improvement ever, adding another 100,000 annualized service hours to schedules across Metro Vancouver. (That tops the September round of service improvements,  when we added 80,000 annualized service hours, the largest ever service increase at the time.)
- Since 100,000 service hours can be hard to mentally visualize, you can also think of it as adding 14.7 million more transit trips to the region.
- Or, as our CEO Tom Prendergast explains, it’s like taking the entire 98 B-Line service and adding that service into the mix around Metro Vancouver.
- The extra service hours are possible due to the addition of more than 100 vehicles to the fleet in 2008—those include standard size, articulated and Community Shuttle buses. Our fleet now totals over 1,500 standard-size, articulated and Community Shuttle buses.
About this whole year of changes
- These service increases are the apex of a year of aggressive expansion of transit service across the South Coast. All of the TransLink services (Coast Mountain Bus Company, West Vancouver Blue Bus, West Coast Express and various contractors) have delivered nearly 5.6 million annualized hours of service, an increase of 4.7 per cent over 2007.
- Of CMBC’s new hours, nearly 40 per cent have gone to South of the Fraser and 12 per cent to the City of Vancouver, largely with the introduction of the #33 29th Ave. Stn / UBC.
- On top of that, Custom Transit (HandyDART) service has increased by more than 9 per cent, to nearly 600,000 hours.
Watch out for more expansion in 2009
- 2009 will see even more growth in service hours, including the opening of the new Golden Ears Bridge, the introduction of the third SeaBus and the first arrivals of the 48 new SkyTrain cars now on order to be in full service by the 2010 Winter Olympics.
- Plus, there are more new buses arriving next year – including new low-floor hybrid-engine buses from Nova – to replace more aging buses and expand the fleet by an additional 104 vehicles.
South of Fraser area improvements (Surrey, Delta, White Rock & Langley)
Three new routes and more!
- We’re continuing to deliver accelerated service expansion to the South of the Fraser area. The three new routes added to the region are probably the most prominent part of those improvements.
- The three new routes are the #364 Langley Centre/Scottsdale, the
#388 Walnut Grove/22nd St. Station and the #609 Tsawwassen First Nation/South Delta Exchange.
- The #364 responds to the need identified during public meetings with stakeholders, for an east-west connection along 64th Street: it will run every half hour, Monday through Sunday. During discussions with residents and stakeholders in the development of the South of Fraser Area Transit Plan, bus service running within the area itself, rather than focused on commuting to Vancouver, was identified as a need to be addressed.
- The #388 provides service to residential and industrial areas through Port Kells and Annacis Island and along 88th Avenue; initially, it will run Monday through Friday, during the peak times only.
- The #609 connects the Tsawwassen First Nation with South Delta, providing hourly service seven days a week from Eagle Drive and Tsawwassen Drive to South Delta Exchange.
- For other routes, the #502 Surrey Central Stn/Langley Centre/Aldergrove will increase its peak-period frequency and begin service from Aldergrove earlier (6:00 am) on Saturdays and Sundays. This is being done following growing requests for earlier weekend service to suit work times.
- And, responding to ever-increasing demand and the phenomenal growth in the Fraser Heights area, the C74 Fraser Heights Community Shuttle will practically double its service to run twice as frequently during middays and on weekends.
Burnaby and New Westminster improvements
New route: the #125 Patterson Station/BCIT!
- The new #125 route addresses heavy demand along Willingdon between Metrotown and BCIT. It will go into service on a trial basis, beginning with the first day of BCIT classes on January 5.
- This bus will operate during the Monday to Friday peak periods for those going no farther than BCIT and create a “pressure valve” to relieve congestion at the Metrotown bus loop. This will open up more space for customers travelling to other destinations such as Brentwood Town Centre, Simon Fraser University and other points in the region.
- Why is it on a trial basis? Good question. The key issue is that there is bus congestion at the Metrotown loop. With the #125, we are trying to give BCIT riders another option to connect to the SkyTrain line, and reduce the number of buses going to Metrotown. But if it turns out that the bus isn’t popular, we’ll look for another solution.
- Fun fact: the #125 was established partly due to the suggestion of our operators.
Other improvements: SFU routes, #169 improvements, N19 to New Westminster
- To alleviate crowding, we’re increasing the frequency of the #144 and the #145.
- The #144 Metrotown Stn/SFU will run every 12 minutes in midday, rather than every 15 minutes.
- On the #145 Production Way Stn/SFU route, the additional buses, used as an option since the fall, will become a permanent part of the schedule.
- The #169 Coquitlam Stn/Braid Stn will join the Frequent Transit Network, with increased frequency on weekends and holidays. (Buses on the Frequent Transit Network provide service at least every 15 minutes, from 6am to 9pm seven days a week.) More and more people are on this route, particularly making connections from Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows, so the improved weekend service will help reduce passups and crowded buses.
- The #100 Airport Stn/22nd St. Stn will run more often during the morning rush hour, while the evening trips that currently stop at Marpole Loop will run all the way to Granville and 70th Ave.
- The #104 Annacis Island/22nd St. Stn will run more often between 4pm and 7pm, giving more options for people who work in the industrial parks and other businesses along that route.
- The new #388 Walnut Grove/22nd St. Station will also help those working in industrial parks in Port Kells and Annacis Island, providing morning and afternoon peak hour service at half-hour intervals, Monday to Friday.
Updates to the #33, #3, #17, #25, #41
- Customers have asked for longer operating times on the new #33 29th Ave. Stn/UBC route. So, we’re expanding to include weekend service and more eastbound trips during the morning rush hour. When it was started in September 2008, the #33 only ran between 6am and 7:30pm, Monday through Friday.
- The #3 Main will once again run all the way into downtown Vancouver, via Hastings, Seymour and back along Cordova to Main. The route had been shortened in 2005, turning in Chinatown, but there have been steady requests, particularly from seniors, to keep it going right into the downtown area.
- The #25 UBC/Brentwood Station, #17 Oak/UBC, and #41 UBC/Joyce Station will all join the Frequent Transit Network owing to high demand, which means their service will run at least every 15 minutes, from 6am to 9pm seven days a week.
North Shore improvements
Capilano University joins the Vancity U-Pass program
- New buses and extended routes will enhance service on the North Shore, particularly for students at Capilano University, which becomes part of the Vancity U-Pass program on January 1, 2009.
- The #130 Metrotown/Kootenay Loop/Phibbs Exchange will run additional trips to Cap U when classes are in session.
- In November, West Vancouver Blue Bus inaugurated the #255 Dundarave/Capilano University – an extension of the #255, which formerly terminated at Lynn Valley. The route will provide half-hourly service seven days a week and 15-minute service on weekday afternoons.
63 new low-floor buses for North Vancouver!
- North Vancouver transit customers are also benefiting from the arrival of 63 new Nova low-floor accessible buses. These coaches, purchased with funds under the Federal Government’s Gas Tax Revenue Transfer Program, will help bus service improve accessibility in North Vancouver.
- The North Vancouver Transit Centre, which is now over a century old, wasn’t equipped to accommodate low-floor accessible buses, and at many stops it was impossible to use the lifts on high-floor buses to accommodate wheelchair users safely on steep grades. Now, following extensive renovations, maintenance work can be done on the low-floor buses at the Transit Centre.
- Even so, while the North Vancouver fleet is accessible, not all the stops are. TransLink and Coast Mountain Bus Company are continuing to work with the City and District of North Vancouver to provide greater accessibility.
- PS: Another 26 high-floor accessible buses – with wheelchair lifts – are still in service in North Vancouver.
Maple Ridge – Pitt Meadows improvements
- The #701 Coquitlam Station/Haney Place/Maple Ridge East will add another trip late Sunday night, leaving Coquitlam Station at 1:07 a.m. This responds to requests from numerous transit customers, asking for later bus service along that route, since other routes serving Coquitlam Station are still running at that time.
The rest of the service improvements
There are many more improvements than those listed here – you can find the full list of service changes  on the TransLink website, or in the print Buzzer . This blog post was just to cover many of the highlights found in these changes, and give you a bit more information behind certain route changes!