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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.

The last time an area transit plan was done for the North Shore was in 2000. This new plan started in 2010, and now we’re starting the third of four phases in 2012. What’s the rational for the timing of this stage?

This plan is different than the previous NSATP in two ways: First, we created a long-term vision, which aligns the projected land use from the North Shore’s five Official Community Plans (OCP) with the transit network. We did this once before with the South of Fraser Transit Area Transit Plan. We also had the District of North Vancouver still working on their Official Community Plan update, and we wanted to make sure that our vision, which follows Transport 2040, was in line with the District’s updated OCP.

The second way that this plan is different than the previous ATPs is that we don’t have a specific implementation plan. Former plans would indicate what projects would happen in what years. What we found in the past is that the projects were implemented based on the ebs and flows of TransLink’s funding. So some area transit plans had many projects implemented, and some had not as many implemented because we didn’t have as much funding at that time. The other piece that we found to be awkward was that when we created the implementation plan, it would have a price tag associated with it that TransLink may not have budgeted for. Also, in times of limited resources, we need to make decisions about which projects are implemented. We didn’t have a clear understanding about which sub-regional implementation plan or projects from those plans were the most important for the region. So we needed to way to balance all of the needs in the region. What we decided on is to create a list of priorities for when resources become available. We don’t know the timing of these projects and the timing is, of course, based on funding as well as the change in growth and development on the North Shore. For example, we wouldn’t be improving a service substantially if we don’t have the population and employment that this service would be supporting. That said, not all of the priorities will be tied to productivity. Sometimes, we’ll make a change because it just makes sense to make network simpler to understand, or we’ve had a change in the way people are moving around the North Shore, and we need to respond to that.

So with this ATP, we will have a list of service and infrastructure priorities, and every time there’s a funding opportunity like a supplemental plan, or resources available through network management change, we’ll have these projects for the North Shore ready to put forward. In Phase 4, we’ll be monitoring and reporting on our progress and successes in achieving our goals.  Have we been able to deliver on the service and infrastructure priorities? What are their impacts? We’ll also monitor the projected land use changes. Are areas being developed as planned? Are the transit priorities still relevant?

What are the major goals for this phase of the plan?

All of the work at TransLink, including the area plans, have to support the six goals of Transport 2040 [see goals below].

Goal 1
Greenhouse gas emissions from transportation are aggressively reduced, in support of federal, provincial and regional targets.

Goal 2
Most trips are by transit, walking and cycling.

Goal 3
The majority of jobs and housing in the region are located along the Frequent Transit Network (frequent, reliable services on designated corridors throughout the day, every day).

Goal 4
Travelling in the region is safe, secure, and accessible for everyone.

Goal 5
Economic growth and efficient goods movement are facilitated through effective management of the transportation network.

Goal 6
Funding for TransLink is stable, sufficient, appropriate and influences transportation choices.

For the NSATP, we defined a specific transit mode share goal for the vision. The long-term vision goal is to increase transit mode share by 50% for the five North Shore municipalities. Currently, 10% of all weekday travel by North Shore residents is by transit, with variations by time of day and muncipality. We would like to see that all-day mode share increase to 15% by 2040. Based on projected land use and growth, we feel this goal is achievable.

Do we ever scale projects back because the price tag is too big to implement at the time?
Yes. But we also look at what the cost is of not completing the full project. The value of implementing a change might outweigh the cost of doing nothing. So we definitely take the cost into consideration, but we have seven other considerations such as social and community impacts, economic development, environment, and land use alignment, that we use to evaluate and prioritize projects.

I know there has been a lot of consultation with different parties in Phase 1 and 2 of the plan including the Public Advisory Committee (PAC), key North Shore stakeholders and feedback from different surveys. How much real input on the long-term goals for the plan do they have?

They have a significant amount of input. We work with these groups on several levels. Working with the PAC, which is made up of a diverse array of community members from the North Shore, as well as other stakeholder groups like neighbourhood and community associations, school districts, chambers of commerce, big employers, municipalities, First Nations, and Metro Vancouver means that we not only keep in line with the goals of this ATP, but the local context they provide as well. An ATP is ultimately for these communities. We only have control over transportation. Their input is significant in terms of land use. This connection between land use and the transit network is key. Our long-term transit vision identifies centres and corridors with high intensity of population and growth to be connected by a frequent transit network (FTN). The FTN is a corridor with 15 minutes service or better, from morning to mid-evening every day. With these FTN corridors defined, we can then create the supporting network with the local services connecting into it. For the North Shore, this means changing the network from the traditional commuter travel from suburb to the downtown core, to one that reflects the high demand for internal movements that are happening on the North Shore today. There are more trips starting and ending on the North Shore now. We still need to maintain the downtown services, but we also need to provide an improved network for moving around the North Shore. We’re also looking at making sure that when people travel to the North Shore for work, school, or recreation they have a useful network to get to their destinations.

Are there any commonalities that these groups have in terms of wants for this plan?
In Phase 1, we discovered that some of our bus routes are extremely good in terms of productivity, and some of the routes are not. We then asked these groups in Phase 1 and Phase 2 what they wanted to see that would encourage them to use transit more. There were a few themes. A big one is better East/West travel. Currently, in the North Shore, the majority of routes are designed for commuter trips to downtown Vancouver in the morning and the reverse in the afternoon. We’ve already made a significant improvement to East/West travel – #239 from Park Royal to Capilano University is part of the FTN. Another is to improve travel speed. With the exclusion of a couple of peak hour services and one route from Horseshoe Bay to Downtown, we don’t have any fast services on the North Shore. So most buses stop at every bus stop. On average bus stops are between 250 m and 400m apart! Changing stopping patterns can be significant in terms of travel time savings. There is also a desire for more frequent service and a request to change the fare policy. Fare policy is outside the scope of our work for this plan. We forwarded this request to our TransLink staff responsible for fare policy. Within the scope of the plan, we looked at this request in terms of value for money. One of the things that we want to ensure is that the service we provide customers is good value for the fare. Are we providing customers with high levels of service that assists them with their personal mobility for trips that can happen anytime of the day, for any purpose, have good connections, and supportive and safe customer environments? This is important to us.

Now that Phase 1 and 2 are complete, the public consultation phase (Phase 3), which is to develop near-term (up 10 year) priorities, is set to begin. This phase will include in-person workshops (see below) as well as an on-line consultation period, which will be available via the NSATP Get Involved page on February 6th until March 9th.between February 6th until March 9th. You can download the online questionnaire here.


Thursday, February 9
West Vancouver Seniors Activity Centre
Activity Room
695 – 21st Street, West Vancouver

6:00 p.m. – 6:30 p.m. Coffee Meet & Greet
6:30 p.m. – 9:00 p.m. Presentation & Workshop

Wednesday, February 15
Pinnacle Hotel
Pier Two Room
138 Victory Ship Way, North Vancouver

6:00 p.m. – 6:30 p.m. Coffee Meet & Greet
6:30 p.m. – 9:00 p.m. Presentation & Workshop

Registration for the workshops is recommended as space is limited.*

To register for the workshops, you can contact Kristin Lillyman, Community Relations Coordinator at or 604-453-4687
*If demand to attend the sessions is high, more community sessions may be added.

There you have it. Make sure to make your voice heard via one of the workshops. Your contribution can help shape transit on the North Shore for many years to come!


  • By jozero, January 27, 2012 @ 2:48 pm

    I’ll give this a zero percent chance of happening, but it sure would be exciting. How about a street car from The Pier in Lower Lonsdale, up and down Lonsdale, then crossing over to Harbour side that will spark development, to the virtually abandoned train station on West 1st ave, (the hard part) running by the water to serve as a tourist attraction across from Stanley Park, cutting up by Ambleside Park. With the redevelopment of Park Royal Mall underground parking could be made for a park & ride. Residents could park, catch the street car, and get to the seabus.

    Lonsdale is greatly increasing in density soon with multiple high rises under way. The hill also serves as a problem for commuters. Making it a test bed for Street Cars in Vancouver would be quite exciting.

  • By mike0123, January 29, 2012 @ 7:03 pm

    The connections from Phibbs Exchange to Burnaby and the rest of Metro Vancouver leave a lot of room for improvement. This connection is the primary way for people from most of North Van to access most of Metro Vancouver. The improvements that need to happen aren’t shown explicitly on the 2040 map, and I suspect they aren’t addressed in the plan.

    There needs to be a frequent, fast route connecting Phibbs Exchange to the Hastings express bus, to the Millennium line, and to the Expo line. The connections can happen at Kootenay loop or Rupert on Hastings, at Rupert or Gilmore on the Millennium line, and at Joyce or Metrotown on the Expo line.

    The existing connection is made with the 28 Joyce or 130. Neither is sufficiently frequent, and the 28 is a loopy local route that is too slow to be suitable for this connection. One of these routes needs to be doubled in its frequency, and the other one needs to stop running to the North Shore. Pick one.

    Just to hammer home the point: the 28 is so slow that there are a handful of improbably indirect routes that are somehow as fast as the 28 between Phibbs and Joyce. For example, (1) 210 to downtown then the Expo line or (2) 28 to Lougheed/Boundary then the 9 (the 9!!) to Commercial then the Expo line, including waiting for an extra 12 minutes for transfers (and it’s just as fast as staying on the 28!). This is unbelievable.

    I hope that problems with the North Shore transit network can be addressed even when they result from poorly designed routes in Burnaby or Vancouver.

  • By Kelly, January 31, 2012 @ 12:44 pm

    I’m a skier @ Cypress Mountain. I also have a pass for Grouse Mountain. Excepted with a friend to drive me down to Cypress, I’m involved with the Special Olympics at Cypress Mountain & there’s no transit service to Cypress Mountain. To get there, you need to get on the shuttle that’s cost $22 return on their hours. I would like to leave the mountain after 8 pm, but the shuttle leaves after 10 pm. No 8 pm service. The reason why is because there’s no residential services along that area. I’m only there for skiing, not to see someone near by. Grouse Mountain is for an example. Again I’m only there for skiing. Not to see someone near by. I would rather take transit to Cypress Mountain or Mt. Seymour instead of those shuttles. They cost an arm & a leg.

  • By Voony, February 1, 2012 @ 12:00 am

    The plan looks good.
    Thought it look the Transit planner have plan for a god transit connection between Phibbs Exchange to Burnaby, I think mike0123 has a point:
    28 should should not come to Phibbs, and terminate at Kootenay loop – and bus 130 should be upgraded accordingly to a “B line” style (so lot of bus stop along the way should be suppressed, an extended C1 to Brentwood, could serve the bus stop not serviced by 130)

  • By JKKT, February 1, 2012 @ 7:40 pm

    I would like the plan to be implemented way before 2040. Seeing the maps of growth, and even translink stating that growth is the slowest in metro on the north shore, what’s stopping translink from putting in the model now?

    I like option A2 the best, and commend translink for pursuing that. I know at least 3 people who live on the north shore (Norgate, Edgemont,and Deep Cove) who all work in East vancouver, more specifically Broadway near renfrew. A rapid transit service in and around North Van is mandatory. I’m thinking of maybe letting the 239 or 255 extend along the 28 route (both buses go to Cap U, and with the pulse at Phibbs you can easily transfer), or creating a rapid route that uses Hwy 1 and goes down rupert to Joyce.
    This is in addition to the comments above made by mike and voony about North Shore- East van connections.

    E-W in North Van is terrible; it takes at least 3 X as long as a car does, and over the 2nd narrows needs a rapid route to E. Van, especially during Peak times.

    I don’t believe that the 251, 252 are as empty as it states; the Dunderave part along Marine sees passups regularly.

    The phibbs ex. pulse is wonderful. The only problem is that the 239 runs 10 minute frequencies in a 15 minute pulse. Not a big issue, but its worth considering running an express from Park Royal/Dunderave to Phibbs/Joyce of 30 minutes, and a 15 minute local on Marine.

    I would support reducing frequencies of low used routes to implement a high frequency one. As we saw with the Canada line – 15, when a rapid transit route is put in, the local bus is virtually empty. In fact the last time I took the 15 mid day, there were only 2 people (me and the driver) on the bus from 49th – Broadway.

  • By mike0123, February 2, 2012 @ 7:31 pm

    Voony has a better idea: “28 should should not come to Phibbs, and terminate at Kootenay loop – and bus 130 should be upgraded accordingly to a “B line” style.” Ideally, this line would connect Metrotown-BCIT-Brentwood-Burnaby Heights-Phibbs-Central Lonsdale. In the meantime, a more frequent local 130 would much better than two local routes, the 130 and 28, trying to do the same thing at half the frequency.

    There are a couple reasons that east-west trips across North Van are so slow: the 239 is indirect and takes long detours to reach the loops at Lonsdale Quay and Phibbs Exchange. The delays are as follows:
    1) The 239 follows a slow route from Forbes/3rd to Lonsdale Quay that takes 10 minutes. It takes 5 minutes for the 236 on a parallel route. The 246 covers this slow route as well, timed with the seabus.
    2) The detour to reach the Lonsdale Quay loop adds 7 minutes, even though it’s just a block away
    3) The droute to reach the Phibbs Exchange loop adds 5 minutes
    Any attempt to reduce the time it takes to make an east-west transit trip across North Van should look at ways to reduce these delays. There’s 17 minutes extra just in these three delays. The easy one is (1). Reducing (2) might put the route on the highway on-off ramps, but this could subject it to delays. Reducing (3) would require people to walk a block.

  • By Robert Willis - Buzzer Editor, February 2, 2012 @ 10:07 pm

    Jozero and Mike0123: I’ve forwarded on your comments to our planning department. Here’s what they had to say:

    I’d point readers to the 2040 Transit Network Vision defined in Phase 2 of the plan, as to move forward projects should align with the direction it sets – The Vision identifies a number of frequent rapid corridors, recognizing an interest in service that is not only frequent, but also fast and reliable. This includes the North Shore’s primary “lower” east-west corridor (Marine Dr, 3rd St), plus Lonsdale Ave/29th St to Lynn Valley and all three connections across the Burrard Inlet (including connections to Burnaby). Regarding the streetcar suggestion – we were deliberately mode and technology “neutral” in the vision, recognizing that further work will be required to determine the best type of transit service to fit the long-term need. Our work in Phase 3 is to evaluate and prioritize all the near term projects (including any suggested through consultation) that help us get toward the Vision.

    Also excellent to see some discussion about the land use (both density and important destinations “on the way”) included in these posts. We’ve been working closely with our municipal partners on the North Shore to ensure that land use and transit plans align, given the strong interdependencies of the two.

    Kelly: You’re right about no public transit directly to Cypress. I would imagine that’s because of low demand and cost. I’ll find out the official reason for you.

    Voony, JKKT and Mike01234: I’ll follow up with planning and get back to you.

  • By mike0123, February 2, 2012 @ 10:42 pm

    Thanks Robert!

    I’ll just add a couple comments to help justify re-routing the 239 to follow 3rd, Forbes, Esplanade, Lonsdale, 3rd, instead of the existing routing via Chesterfield and Lonsdale Quay.

    The bus system in North Van operates on a pulse system with timed transfers in a variety of locations: Lonsdale Quay, Phibbs Exchange, Capilano/Marine, and Edgemont Village. The whole system is designed around minimizing wait times, and nearly all routes used to be timed to appear at the same time at these locations. The main east-west route, the 239, no longer follows this system because it operates at a higher frequency than the other routes. The 5+ minute delays to enter and exit the loops at Lonsdale Quay and Phibbs Exchange are longer than the average wait between buses (which run every 10 minute). Because the frequency is high enough now on the 239, the timed transfer system makes trips take longer in aggregate than leaving the buses on the street and putting transfers at intersections.

    For trips between downtown and the route of the 239 west of Lonsdale, the seabus + 239 combination is always slower than the 240 over the Lions Gate Bridge. For all trips between downtown and the route of the 239 east of Lonsdale, (1) the 239 duplicates the 228 which is timed to the seabus or (2) the Translink trip planner already suggests the combination of the 232 and 210 over the seabus + 239 (e.g. from Park and Tilford).

    In summary, there is no destination pair for which the 239 + seabus is the fastest way to get downtown that is not duplicated by a route that is timed to the seabus. Therefore, there is no reason for the 239 to enter the Lonsdale Quay loop.

    This sidetrip is the primary reason for the slowness of east-west transit trips across North Van, adding 12 minutes to the trip time of a route that currently takes 48 minutes end to end. That’s 1/4 of the service-hours on the system’s most frequent route that can be allocated to increasing frequency on this and other routes.

  • By The Other David, February 2, 2012 @ 11:23 pm

    With due respcect Voony, I’m not sure if your comments about the 130 are based on experience, or theory.
    The stretch between the Willingdon/Pender stop and Brentwood only has 6 stops, and usually only 1/2 of those require a stop to pick up or drop off, in my experience. Unlike the 135, which seems to make every stop scheduled on its route, from Burrard to Rosser (beyond which I have no idea). The 130 doesn’t seem to suffer from these 6 stops,

    SB WILLINGDON AV AT PENDER ST 10:33am 10:38am 10:48am 10:53am 11:03am 11:06am 11:16am 11:21am 11:31am
    SB WILLINGDON AV AT GRAVELEY ST 10:36am 10:43am 10:51am 10:58am 11:06am 11:11am 11:19am 11:26am 11:34am

    Only 3 minutes.. or 5 minutes (?)

    The C shuttles in N. Burnaby only run every 1/2 hour, someone living off of Parker & willingdon would not be amused by service being cut from 5-10 minutes to 30 minutes. (though one shuttle could run Brentwood to Hastings/Willindon fairly frequently)

    Currently some 130s are scheduled 2 minutes apart 4:16pm 4:19pm 4:32pm 4:34pm, later 7:01pm 7:22pm 7:33pm. (21 minutes? The 130 must be one of most asymetric buses in the system. At 7:05 PM you may as well walk to Brentwood)

    What might be useful… a 135 variant that runs from Burrard&Pender to Brentwood Mall. Or once again allow 160/190 to make limited stops in BBy to drop off e/b or pick up w/b.. not sure why they stopped that a few years ago..

  • By Eugene T.S. Wong, February 3, 2012 @ 8:39 am

    @Robert, thanks for your help. I’m not from the North Shore, as you probably remember, but I appreciate you relaying info back and forth regarding this and other issues.

    Maybe the solution is to coordinate with private organizations, and then get them to provide connections from major transit exchanges to the mountains. I suggest allowing them to enter the exchanges and use the bus stops, so that it is easy for everybody.

    How feasible is it?

  • By Kelly, February 3, 2012 @ 10:45 am

    Thanks Bob.
    It’s not just for the residential people that live there, It’s also for the recreation people who can not afford a shuttle that’s goina cost an arm and a leg. A low demand could mean a Community Shuttle if needed.

  • By Voony, February 6, 2012 @ 9:25 am

    Thanks for the feedback.
    @ Other David: right it is suggestion only based on glancing at the map. and not backed by real experience…
    Now, you mention 6 stops in less than a mile (Willingon between Hasting and Lougheed), or one stop every 300m…
    isn’t that a bit over the top?
    Does there is no possibility to suppress a couple of stop?
    they could not cost to much in term of time and could be seldom used…but the bus need to be prepared to stop = bumpy ride, (and tear and wear on the bus) and lost of reliability.

    At the end this plus the mn saved on your ride x number of run, can buy some more run…or a bus shelter at the remaining bus stop:
    some trade-off the local could eventually appreciate

  • By Robert Willis - Buzzer Editor, February 6, 2012 @ 3:11 pm

    Hi all: The electronic questionnaire is now available for download here – . I’m combing through your recent comments and will provide any info I can. Stay Tuned! In the mean time, fill out a questionnaire if you have time.

  • By The Other David, February 7, 2012 @ 10:19 pm

    It’s even less than that Voony, 1.1 km from the Pender stop to the Graveley stop. The stops are every 2nd block, but these blocks are only 100 long. That said, I timed it tonight, despite stopping at four of the six stops, the trip took only 3 minutes and 40 seconds (all lights green helped).

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  1. The Buzzer blog » North Shore Area Transit Plan – another chance to provide your feedback — May 16, 2012 @ 12:01 pm

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