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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.


Public transit serves a variety of users with a variety of needs. Our planners base their plans on the travel patterns of millions of individual trips made by different people. To meet these diverse needs of our riders, we strive to provide accessible multimodal service at most hours in the day in all directions and seek to design services that appeal to a wide variety of people making a number of different types of trips.  We seek to avoid designing services that have a limited market or too specific a purpose.


An efficient and productive transit network is a constant balancing act

When planning a transit network, productivity means maximizing return-on-investment. This means balancing the ridership a line attracts with the cost of providing that service. This is no easy task.

In order for a service to be efficient and productive, a sweet spot needs to be found somewhere between over-supply and overcrowding. We try to find this equilibrium by altering frequency of service (how often a service runs), span of service (when and how long a service is offered), stop spacing or by introducing transit priority measures such as bus/HOV lanes or signal priority.

TransLink only has so much money to spend on transit service. By being efficient with our resources and ensuring the services we do offer are well used, we can actually provide more service for the same cost. As mentioned in the second part of this series, “We sometimes make tradeoffs” when it comes to balancing the objective and themes of our transit network in order run a financially prudent transit system. This means we sometimes have to decline requests for transit that is expensive due to the small number of riders who would use that service. TransLink’s service optimization efforts are all about maximizing efficiency of the network by shifting resources from services that have low ridership to services that are experiencing overcrowding or pass-ups.


Our challenge as the transportation authority for Metro Vancouver is to meet the needs of our region now and in the future, when an added 1 million more residents are expected to be moving throughout the region by 2040. As the demand for public transit and land increases, it’s more important than ever for TransLink to have productive relationships with our municipal partners and other stakeholders in the region.

Part of this cooperation is a transit-oriented land use approach adopted in Metro Vancouver’s Regional Growth Strategy, which emphasizes growth in urban centres and along corridors well-served by transit. This means developing land near the FTN (Frequent Transit Network) where transit runs every 15 minutes or less throughout the day and into the evenings.

Land use decisions are not decisions TransLink can make. We do, however, work with our regional and municipal partners, developers and other groups to support the development of transit-oriented communities throughout the region. Here’s a breakdown of how decisions are made about land use in the region:

  • Municipalities are responsible for land use planning and regulation, so they have considerable influence over what will be allowed to be built, and where.
  • Developers choose which developments go forward, based on market demand and other considerations within the land use and zoning framework of the municipality.
  • Individuals and institutions make decisions about where they want to locate.

What do you thnink?: questions for discussion

Senior planner Peter Klitz has supplied these topics of debate regarding network design themes:

1. Debate the pros and cons of a high frequency grid-based network that seeks to maximize connectivity but requires multiple transfers between services, versus a network that tries to offer a direct one-seat-ride to specific travel markets, but may not have a broader appeal to a wider array of transit users. What are the challenges in designing each network?  What are the benefits or limitations? Are there impacts in our ability to shape growth?

2. What does versatility mean to you? Should TransLink focus on services that appeal to a broad range of people? How should TransLink respond when requested to provide transit service for small or very specialized markets?

3. Does transit shape or serve (or both)? How do we work with cities and developers to make decisions which encourage transit and land use to be mutually supportive? What are the challenges we face if development occurs in areas that are contrary to our collective goals and objectives?

As always, we’d love to hear your thoughts. The discussions in this series have been great so far!


  • By Cliff, July 13, 2012 @ 2:57 pm

    A town like Aldergrove has had to get its own bus to ferry its residents around.

    If that’s not a prime example about how screwed up this kind of “planning” is outside Vancouver, I don’t know what is.

  • By Sheba, July 13, 2012 @ 3:41 pm

    Exactly Cliff. How many times have we talked about the need for a more grid-like network (like described above) for outside of Vancouver – and how little has been done to achieve that.

    Believe it or not planners, not everyone wants to go to/from Vancouver, which is (still) difficult to impossible to do by transit. Moving to a grid-like network of buses is the beginning of making that happen.

  • By Chris M., July 13, 2012 @ 4:26 pm

    My guess is that a grid network would be much more desirable in cities with destinations laid out throughout their transportation network. In a place like aldergrove or Richmond, where almost all the jobs and commercial destinations are in the centre of the city and almost all the residential homes are laid out around the outskirts (although the government is trying to change this through re-development), a grid network would mean almost all the short haul trips from the suburbs to the city centre would require a transfer.

    And grid are not very good when frequencies are low either- because of the inevitable wait times on the connection which would make the entire trip time compare very poorly with the speed of an automobile or bike. I doubt Aldergrove has the ridership to support the very high frequencies needed for a grid to be attractive.

    But the complaints of Cliff and Sheba could be addressed in the last debate. By pursuing more of “goal #3”, we would have better connectivity in the suburbs- not just from to the city. All we need to do is start a service de-optimization project- take some service away from the Vancouver proper and put in in the ‘burbs. This would probably increase pass-ups in Vancouver though, which some may consider undesirable.

  • By Chris M., July 13, 2012 @ 5:03 pm

    And in response to “2. What does versatility mean to you? Should TransLink focus on services that appeal to a broad range of people? How should TransLink respond when requested to provide transit service for small or very specialized markets?”

    I think Translink should continue to focus on services that appeal to a broad range of people based on the maximize utility principle- provide the most good to the most people. It shouldn’t be up to translink to have to twist and turn its routes to serve a suburban strip mall that is a block off of the main thoroughfare because that would make for slow, unattractive transit service. It should be up to municipalities and developers to build transit-oriented developments that can be served efficiently. Perhaps Translink can provide more expertise and resources to city planners as to where to put developments (I guess that’s what this publication is).

    Of semi related note is service along highways. If Cliff became the boss one day and built highways everywhere in Greater Vancouver, should Translink provide services that ran along them or on the local streets? The highway bus would most certainly require feeder busses to bring passengers to the on-ramps, but you would need very high frequencies to make the two inevitable connections bearable. So then we’d have a dilemma- highway fed dendritic bus system that requires expensive high frequency feeder routes, or a network that runs along city streets but is at a significant speed disadvantage to private autos using the highways.

  • By Sheba, July 13, 2012 @ 6:59 pm

    “It shouldn’t be up to translink to have to twist and turn its routes…” Exactly. But if you look at various routes throughout the region, that’s what has happened. I don’t expect every region and every route to be part of a strict grid, but to switch to something more grid-like. The whole South Of Fraser has been set up with a lot of north/south routes and very few east/west routes. How is that going to help anyone who isn’t traveling to Vancouver?

    Burnaby has the density to support a grid-like system very easily, but to quote Mike from our last post about planning “Instead of a 15-minute grid, Burnaby and New Westminster have a 30-minute rat’s nest.” I know the Expo Line station in Burnaby fairly well – Patterson and Royal Oak are almost dead, while Metrotown and Edmonds are busy. Gee guess which stations have buses that stop at them and which don’t.

    Let’s start posting routes that could do with ‘route optimization’ (frequency is a whole other conversation). One in Burnaby is the 110 Metrotown Station/Lougheed Station – it’s a looping route that goes from Metrotown Station to Sperling Station to Production Way Station and then to Lougheed Station.

    It would make way more sense to have it start at Royal Oak Station instead and have it join up with the current route by Royal Oak and Gilpin and continue on from there to Sperling Station. Then have the other half as a separate route. But will the planners do it?

  • By Cliff, July 14, 2012 @ 4:37 am

    Heh, I wouldn’t put freeways EVERYWHERE. I would aim to improve the current system to make it more seamless.

    There are three big ones that need to be made freeways in the short term. The NFPR, the SFPR, and Lougheed Highway from Pinetree to Golden Ears Way. The latter would actually be quite easy to do!

    Buses that use freeways serve one purpose and one purpose only. To connect, at high speeds, centres at far away distances. Not to provide service along the way. I don’t expect a Rapid Bus that crosses the Port Mann to stop at United and Brunette before getting to Lougheed Station.

    I’m not entirely opposed to a grid system, but the problem is that, with a grid, you need to have viable destinations on both ends of the route. In Eastern Langley, these viable destinations are in Abottsford. A grid system needs to be introduced slowly. It needs to creep eastward as Vancouver desnsifies further. Starting by improving the situation in Surrey and overhauling Coquitlam and maybe Burnaby.

  • By mike0123, July 14, 2012 @ 11:46 am

    Institutional inertia caused by fear of a backlash is probably the most difficult thing to overcome in changing the bus system into a high-frequency grid. I think the planners at Translink are capable of designing a frequent grid of bus routes in places like Burnaby and New Westminster. The question is why Translink hasn’t done this yet.

    Grid is not the perfect word to describe the desired high-frequency network It implies that the spacing between north-south routes should be identical to east-west routes, and that they serve the same purpose. They shouldn’t. In most cities in Metro Vancouver, coverage is provided by the north-south routes, which need to be about 800-m apart, and connections are made on the east-west routes, which can be spaced further apart. The less frequent spacing of connecting routes saves service-hours to deploy elsewhere.

    In Burnaby, the coverage routes should be primarily north-south and the connections should be primarily east-west. The 135-Hastings, Millennium line, Expo line, and 100-Marine already are frequent connectors. North-south routes should connect to each of the connectors, and they should avoid connecting with each other except where the lack of north-south arterials forces the routes to come together. This bus system would appear not as a grid but more like IIIIIII with Skytrain providing internal connections. This change in network design would end the wasteful duplication of Skytrain by removing most of the east-west and circuitous routes, putting those service-hours instead into north-south routes to make them part of the FTN.

    A grid is not exactly the aim in Surrey and Richmond either. Both these cities have the end of a Skytrain line extending only part way into the arterial grid. The coverage should be mostly from north-south lines that bend to connect to a Skytrain station at their northern end. This is not unlike pre-Skytrain Vancouver. Connections can be made using the Skytrain. One or two routes should connect all the coverage lines near their southern ends. Still, the rule should be the same as for Burnaby: north-south routes should connect to each of the connectors, and they should avoid connecting with each other.

  • By Sheba, July 14, 2012 @ 1:49 pm

    I remember hearing the aim of making areas like Surrey more like a bike wheel, with spokes extending out from the various exchanges to the other exchanges so that people can travel within the region. That hasn’t happened either.

    It would look a little like it if they built an actual Fleetwood Exchange (the satellite map shows it as an intersection that a number of buses stop at) and moved it a few blocks over from 156th to 152nd. Then instead of almost all of the buses coming from Surrey Central/King George Stations (one via Guildford at least), they could show that Fleetwood also joins up with White Rock Centre. Add a bus route to Newton and then there’s actually some connections to city centers.

    I look at a few main buses across New West and can’t help but think oy vey! The 155 takes 6th across to Braid Station (could it stop at Sapperton instead?) so that’s not too bad. Then the 154 takes the first half of it’s route along 6th as well before switching to 8th to Braid Station. Then there’s the 101 that takes 8th across (which should be covered by the 154) and then doing what looks like step exercises before ending up at Lougheed Station. I really can’t see there being a backlash to have those routes fixed up.

    Maybe next time I’ll post some routes I saw in Burnaby that have massive overlap. Dare we guess if the planners will make any of these changes in the fall…

  • By Cliff, July 15, 2012 @ 4:20 pm

    New Westminster is a city that doesn’t really need timed connections. It can easily be redone into a grid. They just need to stop focusing on New Westminster Station as the must-go terminus for local routes.

    Routes can easily terminate at the various SkyTrain stations which they have five of. Edmonds and Lougheed Stations can also be included as they are near the city boundary. That gives New Westminster seven stations. Focus less on connections within the city centre and have SkyTrain take the brunt of the transfers. With increased frequencies, a highly developed grid system will surface and passengers having to go all the way to SkyTrain will be less necessary.

    South Coquitlam and Port Moody is ridiculously easy to turn into a grid system. United, Lougheed, Brunette-Cape Horn, Austin, Como Lake, and St Johns make up the east-west streets and North, Blue Mountain, King Edward-Marmont Schoolhouse-Gatensbury, Mundy-Linton-Thermal, and Mariner Way make up the North-South routes.

    Once the Evergreen line is built, buses can terminate at SkyTrain stations on North Road and St Johns to transfer to Coquitlam and Lougheed Stations. Run school specials to make up for lost service to Centenial and Charles Best High Schools.

    I know that people don’t like change, but if we stop treating major stops along SkyTrain stations as the go-to for bus routes and start looking at it like a long single transfer point, then all of a sudden, our system looks very cohesive and many routes look very redundant. It would help avoid the unnecessary movements that was mentioned earlier, the king of which is Coquitlam Station, and would allow for for more frequent service which will “bring out the grid” that seems to work so well in Vancouver proper.

  • By Sheba, July 15, 2012 @ 7:04 pm

    I just looked at South Coquitlam/Port Moody and see what you mean. We can only hope that they’ll start changing it into a grid-like network in time for Evergreen Line.

    The way the streets are laid out in New West means that the grid would have to be turned on a 45 degree angle. It also shouldn’t be that hard to turn into a grid – but will it mean New West has a hairy conniption…

    I’m with you about having buses stop at various Skytrain stations instead of bunching them up all at one. In New West the C3, C4 and C9 all go from New West Station up Columbia St and past Columbia Station – the C3 and C4 both turn up 4th St and could easily start on 4th instead. Honestly it’s only a loss of 4 blocks – I think people will be able to survive the loss of two community shuttles on a few blocks.

    Maybe making those small changes will lead them to making more changes, eventually fixing up routes into a more grid-like network.

  • By Graeme Bone, July 15, 2012 @ 8:28 pm

    I think the situation in Richmond could be helped by making the 403 more frequent so it could act as an extension of the Canada Line. That way there would be more options for bus routes to connect to the trunk line, taking people into the city centre and onwards into Vancouver, instead of the awkward routes they follow now.

    A good example of the problems these routes cause was my situation today. I live just off the northern part of Garden City rd, and for me to get to the southern part I had to take a bus, get off, wait 20 minutes, and connect to another bus. The whole ordeal took 30 minutes (40 including walking) when driving would have taken 10. I understand the focus on the centre, but shouldn’t major roads have consistent service along their lengths?

    I have decided to go car-free, but unfortunately, as things stand, I won’t be able to do so while still living in Richmond. A perfect example as to why communities outside of Vancouver are remaining car dependent.

    Now that the Canada Line has had a chance to settle in, and a new bus loop is being planned for Brighouse Station. It is a great time for TransLink to launch a re-evaluation (with extensive community consultation) of all bus routes in Richmond.

  • By mike0123, July 15, 2012 @ 8:41 pm

    South Coquitlam’s bus network is organized around a timed-transfer at the Coquitlam Recreation Centre and nearly all of its bus routes are tangled to reach this out-of-the-way and unimportant transfer point. The geography of South Coquitlam lends itself instead – even before the Evergreen line – to east-west coverage routes on Como Lake, Foster, Austin, Brunette, Lougheed, and United. The coverage lines should be connected on North/Clarke and somewhere further east, perhaps from one of the coverage lines turning north to connect all the others.

    For the most part, these arterials are perfectly spaced to create a frequent grid network, but there are a group of houses between Brunette and Austin that will be as much as a 7-minute walk from transit. Translink solves this problem by running the nearly useless 157 every half hour. It should solve it instead by running buses more frequently on Austin, Lougheed, and Brunette despite the maximum walking distance threshold.

    New Westminster’s arterials are spaced too closely together to provide frequent transit on all of them. Translink has chosen to provide infrequent and indirect bus routes on most of the arterials. It should instead run frequent, straight bus routes on a selection of the arterials so that routes are about 800 metres apart. In practice this means there should be southwest-northeast routes between:
    Edmonds-Production or Lougheed Stn on Edmonds and 16th Ave,
    Edmonds-Braid Stn on 10th Ave, and
    22nd Ave-Sapperton on 6th Ave,
    and northwest-southeast routes between:
    Metrotown area-New West Stn on Kingsway and 12th St, and
    North Burnaby-Columbia on Canada Way and 6th St.
    In addition, there needs to be a bus route on Columbia, a community shuttle on Quayside, and maybe a community shuttle serving Queens Park.

    The result is a simple, legible, Skytrain-connected grid that puts nearly everyone inside the maximum walking distance threshold.

  • By Sheba, July 16, 2012 @ 7:23 pm


    Edmonds to Lougheed or Production Way: new route along Edmonds St and then over to 16th – I’d run it to Production Way (could replace the 101)
    Edmonds to Braid on 10th Ave: new route – I’d run it from 22nd Street.
    22nd St to Sapperton on 6th Ave: the 155 with the end of the route chopped off.

    Metrotown to New West on Kingsway and 12th St – the 106 and 112.
    North Burnaby to Columbia on Canada Way and 6th St – the 123 New West to Brentwood.
    You need more (angled)north/south routes in New West than that, if for no other reason than the hill.

    Of course a route along Columbia and those community Shuttles already exist (C9, C8 and C3).

    Now I need to look at some of the waste in Burnaby…

  • By Sheba, July 16, 2012 @ 8:08 pm

    Have the planners even looked at the Burnaby bus routes south of the Expo Line??? The C6 route (below Metrotown) is already fully covered by the C7 and the 116.

    I’ve already commented (ranted) about moving the 110 over to Royal Oak and cutting the route in two. Plus the 129 could be chopped in two (not sure which ‘side’ of the route should get the Hastings section) and it could easily end at Patterson (which is practically dead as a station) instead of continuing on to Metrotown.

    How about instead of a route from Metrotown along Kingsway to New West, a route from Royal Oak on Imperial to Canada Way and then down into New West (prob not New West Station as that would be doubling half of the 123).

  • By mike0123, July 16, 2012 @ 10:37 pm

    The first topic poses a question about choosing between a high-frequency grid and a system of one-seat rides, but this is not actually the choice in most of Metro Vancouver. The real choice in most places is between the existing system of non-sensical loopy bus routes and the proposed grid of arterial routes. There seems to be unanimous agreement from this peanut gallery with the principles that Translink proposes should guide the design of the bus network.

    Is there anyone who supports the mess in Burnaby? Civic politicians? Seniors? Translink planners? It clearly doesn’t follow from the principles described above. Or is that detour on the 28 still there after 50 years because nobody in a position to fix it really thought it was worth the hassle? Does Translink actually intend to redesign the network following the principles it proposes? Or will it just keep making incremental changes?

  • By Sheba, July 17, 2012 @ 10:52 am

    I’ll be impressed if they make any passably sane changes – tiny changes to the routes are better than none at all. Plus no new Skytrain lines until the Newton to Surrey Central portion of that rapid transit line is operational (it sounds like it could be awhile before the Surrey Central to Guildford part of the line is a reality).

    For anyone who doesn’t know, this is the route I’m talking about:

  • By Cliff, July 17, 2012 @ 9:24 pm

    Or extend east-west Vancouver routes into Burnaby as part of an overhaul. Use it as a basis with which to construct a coherent grid.

    Burnaby can be made into a grid system if routes are made to pass through a nearby SkyTrain station. Not every bus needs to go through Metrotown, Edmonds, or Brentwood. The end of every route should be a major location too. Not that hard to do as those exist quite frequently along Hastings and the Expo Line.

    I also want to turn our attention to bicycle lanes as part of the transit network. Bicycles should never be riding alongside cars on major streets when safe reasonable alternatives exist. Allowing cyclists to ride on Lougheed Highway in Burnaby is lunacy. Alternatives exist on Broadway and Douglas. Once they hit Vancouver, they can use North Grandview or Adanac. Why is TransLink promoting such dangerous behaviour? The same happens on Hastings Street. And Broadway. Granville… etc etc etc…

    Ban cyclists from these streets where alternatives exist. There’s nothing quite like passing a cyclist only to have said cyclist dangerously and illegally pass you on the right at the next light risking a side-swipe and even a right hook and then having to pass that same cyclist again when you get going. That’s three interactions between the same set of cyclists and group of vehicles. It’s frighteningly dangerous for everyone involved.

    The solution is not more bicycle lanes. It’s better management of the existing infrastructure.

  • By Cliff, July 18, 2012 @ 2:17 am

    After re-reading that, I probably should have mentioned that the streets I mentioned are mostly city operated streets that TransLink has no say over. That being said, this questionable planning is happening across the board as planners attempt to shoehorn cycling in as a substitute for widened streets and highways.

    I am very much behind the use of bicycles where proper planning has been undertaken with attention to detail. All bridges should be built with cycling facilities and bicycle paths and trails should absolutely be expanded and upgraded. Alternative streets should be made available and cycling travel time should not be impacted as a result of being disenfranchised from major streets.

  • By Eugene Wong, July 19, 2012 @ 12:44 am

    Having a rigid grid in midtown New Westminster might be unpleasant. I would need to look again, but a significant destination is on 6 Ave, so forcing a lot of passengers to walk down to 6 Ave to reach their destination would be very unpleasant. Also, I could imagine some people needing to transfer. The thought of walking to 8 Ave reminds me of Scottsdale Mall, when the exchange used to be there. Having them all pass near the mall in the midtown centre is like having them meet at an exchange.

    In short, New Westminster is pretty good already. Grids aren’t automatically better.

  • By Eugene Wong, July 19, 2012 @ 12:48 am

    Somebody once told me that SkyTrain is a glorified horizontal elevator. I think that he also said that it was just a big bus exchange, which is what Cliff seems to be saying. In general, I support the idea. That’s why I think that it might be wise to think of SkyTrain as a neutral zone.

  • By Eugene Wong, July 19, 2012 @ 12:52 am

    The #C3 & #C4 need a place to park, and I think that that is what makes the exchange so appealing. Walking along Columbia is kind of cool, but there are times, when exercise and window shopping are not relevant. If I have to go somewhere, then I want to get to the bus stop ASAP.

  • By Sheba, July 19, 2012 @ 10:48 am

    I’m still with Cliff on New West not needing timed connections. Honestly it’s not that big that it needs an exchange in the middle of it. Having buses stop at all the Skytrain stations and a grid across the middle would give better coverage than what exists now.

    Btw I’ve walked between New West and Columbia stations and it’s really not that far. I just looked it up on goggle maps and it’s 700 meters (along Columbia and up to the 4th St entrance for Columbia Station), or less than half a mile – Patterson to Metrotown stations is 800 meters. If someone for whatever reason can’t do that, there’s always the Skytrain to take them that distance.

    Also the C3 and C4 could park outside the 4th St entrance to Columbia station. The C9 would still travel along Columbia St between the stations and continue on to Lougheed Station, so it’s not like would be no bus service along Columbia St.

  • By Eugene Wong, July 19, 2012 @ 10:45 pm

    The spaces outside of 4th St are a kiss and ride, and a bus stop on the other side of the street. I suppose that the buses could park near there, though, but there is still the need to turn around. What streets would you use to turn them around?

    By shortening the route, you are basically adding about 5 minutes to the trip of the passengers, who start and end their trip at New Westminster Station.

  • By Sheba, July 20, 2012 @ 12:45 am

    You’re thinking in terms of Surrey bus routes but New West isn’t the same – the 155 only takes 22 minutes to get from 22nd St across New West to Braid Station, and the looping 101 takes 33 minutes to get from 22nd St to Lougheed Station. You have to think of New West as a small sub-section of Surrey.

    New West doesn’t need one main bus loop that all the buses meet at – it has 5 Skytrain stations (plus Edmonds and Lougheed near it’s borders) and all of the stations are not being used as much as they could. For example one of my friends lives up the hill from Royal Columbian but he almost never stops at Sapperton Station as there are no buses – he ends up having to take the bus from Braid instead.

    Running the C3 and C4 to/from Columbia Station on 4th wouldn’t be a problem. Move the bus stop from just below Clarkson to just above it and drive up 4th to Agnes and beyond like usual. On the way back to Columbia Station all they’d have to do is turn a block early onto Carnarvon to Blackwood to Clarkson (basically loop around the building there) and park where the route starts.

    That would take those buses off Columbia St, and New West has conniptions about the amount of traffic there.

  • By Eugene Wong, July 20, 2012 @ 3:52 am

    No, I’m thinking of New Westminster bus routes. I know what they are like. I used to go to a couple of places there to volunteer.

    The trip time is irrelevant to me in this discussion.

    I would have to look at those streets up close to see how well the shuttle bus would work there. From what I recall, those streets are so narrow that they seem like back alleys.

    We would also need to remove some parking, and find a washroom for the drivers. These aren’t impossible tasks, but I have a feeling that they could be big enough obstacles.

    Also, you’d be forcing riders to cross 2 streets when transferring to/from SkyTrain. That’s not a big obstacle, but it gets annoying for me, after a while. Going to New Westminster Station takes off about 2-5 minutes each way, and the time savings might not be significant enough, because of the frequencies.

    Also, if the bus driver needs to pull over for a break, then that probably means that he’ll need to park a significant distance before the bus stop, which means that the bus stop will probably be moved north of Carnarvon. Get out of Columbia Station, and be forced to walk to Carnarvon just to get a bus? In the rain? No thanks. Crossing 2 streets is bad enough. Crossing 3 is pushing it a bit far.

    Another option is to leave the parking spot north of your proposed bus stop, and have the bus circle around to the bus stop to start the trip.

    Also, I hate it when a bus loops around a block as part of the route. See the #314 & #329 as an example. For a certain portion of those routes, you only get the bus going 1 way. At the end of the day, a lot of people have to choose between walking more than half a mile, or waiting on the bus for the bus driver to take a break.

    Sending buses to Sapperton would require the buses to loop around like you suggested for Columbia Station.

    Why does New Westminster feel that way about the bus traffic on Columbia? They are removing cars.

  • By Sheba, July 20, 2012 @ 2:52 pm

    You said the word “rain” and just look at the weather today!

    Actually you are still thinking of Surrey buses and the need to bunch them all up at exchanges. Part of the point of having a Skytrain line is that each station can work as a small exchange and have a few buses stop at it, instead of having them all bunch up in one spot. Your wanting them all to stop at New West Station is exactly that kind of thinking.

    I looked at the streets by Columbia Station up close – 4th and Carnarvon are about the same size and Blackwood isn’t much smaller. Only Clarkson is alley-like, and the bus wouldn’t even be on there for a full block (I could walk it in a minute). Btw this loop would be smaller than the loop that the 314 and 329 make entering/leaving Surrey Central Station.

    You wouldn’t have to cross 2 streets to get to Columbia Station – you’d still only have to cross 4th, and the distance from the bus stop to the station would be about the same (plus/minus a few feet).

    The community shuttle bus could just park at the stop with a ‘not in service’ sign (like I’ve seen at New West Station). Plus Skytrain stations have staff washrooms, so for that it doesn’t really matter which station the bus is stopped at.

    Ok, yes parking spots would have to be removed – but looking at google street view only shows room for 2 cars there anyway. That just isn’t a deal breaker for me.

  • By Sheba, July 20, 2012 @ 3:23 pm

    As far as Sapperton Station, Spruce St briefly runs parallel to Brunette and has an entrance/exit just past either end of the station. There would be room to fit a couple bus stops there. Keary St is currently a good contender for a bus, and perhaps Nelson’s Ct once it’s completed. I’m sure a bus controlled light (there aren’t many traffic lights in the area) and a bus only street to join Nelson’s to Spruce would work.

  • By Eugene Wong, July 20, 2012 @ 4:40 pm

    No, I’m not thinking about Surrey. Just because I’m thinking about sending *2* buses to New Westminster Station, doesn’t mean I’m thinking of bunching them up. Even if I did intend for bunching, it doesn’t mean that it is less than ideal.

    Tell me what I am thinking about is very offensive to me, unless are *absolutely* right. It’s kind of risky, don’t you think?

    You would have to cross 4th, and then Clarkson. If you don’t cross Clarkson, then you have to cross that entrance on the station side 4th.

    I took a look at another look at the map. I’m surprised at how big the block is. The shuttles will definitely be able to fit there.

    I still don’t get why you are defending this so much. Terminating at Columbia won’t affect the routing of the rest of the trip, nor will it increase the frequency.

  • By Eugene Wong, July 20, 2012 @ 4:45 pm

    By the way, they cannot automatically park at the stop, because the other buses need that stop, unless they both break at the same time. If the #C3 parks there, then the #C4 needs the stop, etc.

  • By Sheba, July 21, 2012 @ 8:26 pm

    I’m basing my opinion of what you’re thinking on what you’ve written. You’re against a grid-like network in New West and you’re against multi small exchanges at Skytrain stations and want them all at New West Station. That’s why I’ve been saying you’re thinking it liking Surrey buses.

    I find it such a waste that 3 community shuttles and the skytrain follow the same route. Even the 106 covers part of that route (it turns up before Columbia Station) and they all only have 1 stop between the stations. Is it really such an important and busy area to have that many buses?

    As much as you don’t understand my reasons for changing the routes by starting them at Columbia and reducing the bunching of buses at stations, I don’t understand your reasons either. Why would you want to keep the status quo?

  • By Cliff, July 22, 2012 @ 1:08 am

    Some of those routes in New Westminster can be interlined to reduce movements where a bus has to make several turns just to get going the way it came.

  • By Eugene Wong, July 22, 2012 @ 2:10 am

    Sheba, you’re being unfair. I never said that I wanted *all* the routes to go to New Westminster Station. Come, come now. You and I are only talking about the #C3 & #C4, and we’re only talking about the portion on Columbia St, and at Columbia Station. That’s ***2*** bus routes.

  • By Cliff, July 22, 2012 @ 8:15 pm

    Another system I saw in my travels was having buses interline with all the routes in the system, so you could hop on a bus and if you waited long enough, it would eventually go to where you were going.

    Obviously, you couldn’t do this here, but you could adapt a series of routes to this system. Routes like the 101 and 152 that are already linked should share the same number. Then maybe, the 152 could continue onto Westwood Plateau as a route that is already established.

    A system like this would mean less transfers overall. It could even be significant if this were adopted on a wider scale. Chain up routes like the 177 and a New Westminster or south Coquitlam route and a north poco route so people going to work in the Pacific Reach don’t have to transfer.

    I don’t think we should design around this concept, in a way this is the opposite of what I had in mind with a grid, but where the connections exist after a redesign, why not?

  • By ???, July 22, 2012 @ 11:12 pm

    I’m not a big fan of interline routes. Too often when there is a traffic disruption, instead of messing up one route, two routes are messed up. Some routes (ie #20) is already too long and unpredictable coming out of downtown.

  • By Cliff, July 23, 2012 @ 12:25 am

    I can see where you’re coming from. But I can think of a few routes that could be interlined to save time.

    Take the 8 and the 20. Why are they going to Downtown? They don’t need to go there. They both pass through SkyTrain stations before they hit the downtown core. So why mix them in with all that traffic?

    Have the number 8 turn right at Hastings and continue as a 20 from Main at Hastings. Have the number 20 turn left at Main and have it continue as an 8.

    If some trolley wires are extended, then interlining could be done on a bigger scale, possibly just combining some routes. The 19 and 106 could be paired up. Or how about even eliminating non-trolley 100 routes west of Marine Station? You could if the 10 and 100 were interlined out to Harrison Loop. There’s so much service duplication along Marine Drive now that I can’t help but wonder why community shuttles aren’t used in Marpole.

    I’m basically talking about taking the grid we want and then looking at ways to further improve on it by linking routes together. It’s not all just laying out a grid and putting out 15 minute bus service on it.

  • By Eugene Wong, July 23, 2012 @ 12:35 am

    I agree with ??? about interlining, but there are situations when it would work. I don’t know all the details of what makes it successful, though.

    I think that a “nice” opportunity would be all the routes that make up a big circle route for the GVRD. I say “nice”, because it wouldn’t necessarily big a good idea, but it would be nice for people to not have to connect from vehicle to vehicle.

    I think that having too many transfers creates diminishing returns. Interlining them helps to ensure a decent connection.

  • By Cliff, July 23, 2012 @ 3:02 am

    Again, don’t get me wrong. I’m talking about this as a ‘bonus’ to a grid system. Put together a grid, maybe starting with the Burrard peninsula, and then adjust the times to allow some buses to interline.

    First, we need to have a goal. I like to think that the vast majority of people require 15 minute frequencies to see public transit as feasible and easily accessible. Those same routes need to have connectivity with the rest of the region so we can’t rely on the grid to do all the work, these routes need to have viable destinations; a mall, a SkyTrain station, Downtown Vancouver, a neighbouring suburb, whatever. Once we have these goals in mind, among many others, mind you, then we can move on to the meat and potatoes of such an endeavour.

    I would try to think of the east-west corridors as the easiest to come up with because some go all the way from one end of the peninsula to the other. Hastings-Barnet-Lougheed, Broadway-Lougheed, Marine-Columbia-Brunette-United-Mary Hill Bypass, Kingsway-12th.

    These would pretty much be your “prime” east west-corridors. Then you look at Broadway-Lougheed and say OK, there doesn’t need to be as much service between Commercial and North because of the SkyTrain. The same goes for St Johns to Pinetree and for Columbia to Braid. Much of Kingsway is like this too, but it’s dense enough and far away enough from SkyTrain to ignore it a little bit.

    Okay, so what you’re left with are long corridors where some rapid transit exists. Great. Now put some bus routes on them and adjust the frequencies and destinations to account for rapid transit and any relevant destinations along the way. If there’s an attraction that warrants service, adjust the frequency up. If there is already service duplication with rapid transit, lower the frequency.

    Then look at north-south corridors. These are a little different because they are much shorter and often disjointed, particularly in Burnaby. There are a few big ones though, Those are Boundary, Willingdon, Royal Oak, and North. Lay down routes and adjust frequencies where rapid transit duplicates again.

    Then start piecing together more north-south routes through the jumble that is Burnaby. Sperling… Kensington… Gilley… This bit is mostly outside the scope of this forum. But you get the idea. Again, adjust frequencies where attractions or lack-thereof exist. Then, ensure the ends of all the routes hit some kind of attraction, preferably rapid transit. Because we’ve chosen to think of the SkyTrain as a large great glass elevator, the majority of routes should terminate at the nearest SkyTrain station to their corridor. Other buses won’t be able to; they may have to end at bus loops like SFU. As long as it’s a transfer point and the OTHER end connects to rapid transit, then that’s fine.

    Then take a look at the ends of routes and see how they might be interlined to save time and money and/or provide better connections for passengers.

    At the end of the day, this all has to be put together with studies and tests. It’s not cheap to turn a system on its head, but we can do it in baby steps. Start with an easy goal like South Coquitlam. SkyTrain is coming, routes will have to be adjusted anyway… Take the opportunity to use it as a testing ground for these ideas. Ridership here is already low, so what could it hurt if you get it wrong?

  • By Eugene Wong, July 24, 2012 @ 12:14 pm

    I agree with starting an easy goal, where big mistakes won’t make a big difference.

  • By Eugene Wong, July 24, 2012 @ 12:33 pm

    I was thinking about the #C3 & #C4 again.

    On Tuesdays, I need to go from Scottsdale Exchange to UBC, to run an errand. Every other Tuesday, I just come straight back, so it is interesting to see if I can do it with a 3-zone Faresaver plus a 2-zone Faresaver. The idea is that I try to find the quickest way to do it, so that I can still make use of the 3-zone Faresaver for part of my return trip, which lowers the cost.

    On the way home today, I stood around for a while, so I checked the schedule in my pocket. This is actually a good habit that I recommend to all riders: always check for new options, since you are waiting anyways.

    I discovered that I could have used the #301, instead of the options that I had become accustomed to. The #301 would take up more travel time, but because it would leave earlier, it would provide a net savings in time. This is a huge bonus. With the new option, I could go from Scottsdale Exchange to UBC and back, in less than 3 hours. I would still have about 45 minutes to spare on my last Faresaver.

    The reason that this works, is because a significant portion of the last leg on the 3-zone Faresaver is after the Faresaver expires [i.e. I get on before expiry, but continue riding, which is legal, from what I’ve been taught by the bus drivers], and also because of the concept of redundancy.

    For my needs, the #301 is redundant, but it also provides an option that absolutely minimizes waiting.

    The #C3 & #C4 is like that. The end portions on Columbia St may not provide much service to many people, but as long as the bus drivers are getting the coffee breaks that they need, then we might as well keep moving the buses [assuming that wear and tear and gas don’t amount to much].

    This allows for bus stops closer to SkyTrain; huge bonus.

    This also allows for redundancy, when SkyTrain breaks down. Riders can get off at New Westminster Station or Columbia [as long as the train is at the station with the doors open], and then take a bus, instead of waiting.

    This also minimizes transfers. Even though SkyTrain will move people from New Westminster Station to Columbia Station faster, and vice versa, we can safely assume that the transfers would require the passenger to leave extra early. The transfer could reasonably increase the trip by 5-10 minutes, even though the trip is only a 1-2 minute “distance”. That is completely unreasonable!

    I don’t know if any of you realize this or not, but the very goal of interlining is thwarted, when you shorten the #C3 & #C4. It means that more vehicles are required to travel that short distance.

    That doesn’t mean that we should automatically send the 2 buses to New Westminster Station. No, no, no. It’s a matter of trade offs. Maybe it would be best to shorten the trips, and then increase the frequency. In that case, it would definitely be worth it, unless there were a lot of riders already on the extended bus.

    So, my view is to leave it, as is, unless we could get some better frequency, assuming all things are equal.

  • By Cliff, July 24, 2012 @ 7:37 pm

    I keep thinking about how one would redesign South Coquitlam’s bus routes and I just can’t do it without having a new bus loop at Cape Horn and United or else I end up with duplication. Also, if Gatensbury is going to be used as a north-south route, only a community shuttle can traverse the sharp winding hill into Port Moody.

    It’ll be interesting to see what TransLink comes up with when the times comes. I just hope it’s not a lot of the status quo. Radical change is going to be needed here when SkyTrain arrives and I’ll be sorely disappointed if many of the routes stay the same.

  • By Eugene Wong, July 25, 2012 @ 10:34 am

    Cliff, I finally decided to look at your South Coquitlam plan, since you are still writing about it.

    Your Brunette Cape Horn suggestion seems rather detourish. Why did you not go with Brunette Dawes?

    Your Mundy suggestion seems good. If they send community shuttle buses to service the route, then the shuttles will be able to pull into a cul-de-sac at the south end of Mundy, and park there. They could even put a bus stop up. This means that at least 1 less bus would pull into your proposed bus loop.

    Also, a bus that services most of Schoolhouse could service the rec centre and Silver City. This would give a good diverse amount of riders.

    I noticed that you mentioned Schoolhouse and King Edward in the same proposal. They seem to run parallel, and never come close enough to touch. Was that a typo, by any chance?

    I think that Schoolhouse should be the backbone of the grid. At the north end, it connects to the WCE and B-Line. In the middle, it goes to the rec centre, and near the high school. It would need to detour, using Decaire. At the south end, it touches the theatres, and comes near Superstore. They could beef up the frequency, so that no matter which east-west route you take, you could easily connect to a bus that brings you to the rec centre, the theatres, or Superstore.

    A lot of your buses will have to terminate at the exchanges and stations, regardless of geography or road shapes, because people will not be happy about being dropped off a mile from a mall, or some such destination, and then being forced to wait for 5-15 minutes for a connection.

    I think that you have discovered why there is no grid right now. I suspect that these planners have been taught about the grid potential. The benefits have been blogged about recently, by J. Walker. The unfortunate problem with South Coquitlam is that destinations are not evenly laid out, which makes it hard to terminate a bus in the middle of nowhere. The optimization efforts would most certainly force them to break apart the grid.

  • By Eugene Wong, July 25, 2012 @ 10:41 pm

    Grid advocates, I just thought of something else.

    Imagine that there are no sidewalks in South Coquitlam. Imagine being forced to walk on the grass, which will become all worn out, and then muddy in fall-winter-spring.

    How would you like it, if the bus dropped you off 1 block from your destination, and then you got your pants all muddy? Imagine what it would be like, if the grass had poor drainage. What would it be like if the street had poor drainage, and the car went by splashing you? Remember, that would only be 1 block.

    Suddenly the grid is beginning to look less romantic. It is true that sidewalks are the responsibility of the city. It is true that transit can’t afford to divert every route to every location.

    Unfortunately, that all doesn’t matter, because transit orgs and advocates must think about the entire package. They need to think about the full trip.

    Sometimes, for certain routes, there are no known cases that I described above. This is true because people were smart enough to not take transit in the first place.

    A big problem with Google Maps and other services, is the clarity. In order to provide a quality service the maps are well lit, and in dry conditions, which does not really match GVRD weather.

    So, all this talk about crossing streets and just walking to destinations is fine for encouraging the riders to increase their tolerance level, but it is not acceptable for transit orgs to lower their standards. They need to make hard choices and trade offs. That’s fine, but to just let things go is not satisfactory.

    Nobody wants to show up to work with muddy clothes.

  • By Cliff, July 26, 2012 @ 12:15 am

    Dawes Hill is too steep for buses to use. Hence the need to use Cape Horn. Decaire is also too steep for transit, that’s why they use Laurentian despite half of it being next to a ravine.

    151 – Lougheed Station/Lincoln Station Lougheed, Woolridge, Schoolhouse, Brunette, Cape Horn, Mariner, Johnson, Glen. This route covers the “Lougheed” east-west and the “Mariner” north-south. Interlined with 158.

    152 Lougheed Station/Coquitlam Station – Austin, Guilby, Blue Mountain, Austin, Hickey, Riverview, Chilko, Lougheed, Dewdney Trunk, Barnet, Lougheed. Covers the “Austin” east-west.

    143 SFU/Burquitlam Station/Coquitlam Station – Gaglardi, Broadway, Como Lake, Spuraway, Ranch Park, Dewdney Trunk, Mariner, Barnet, Lougheed. With SkyTrain now providing the link between Coquitlam Station and Burquitlam, the 143 can be relegated to more local service along Como Lake, replacing other routes using it. Additional trips from Burquitlam Station to SFU.

    158 Braid Station/Lincoln Station – Brunette, Lougheed, King Edward, United, Brigantine, Heartley, Fawcett, United, Shuswap, N Bend, Canoe, Golden, (Peak-hour routing Golden, Glacier, Shuswap, United) United, Cape Horn, Holly, Orchid, Lougheed, Pinetree. Covers the “United” east-west. Will provide service to future developments on Riverview grounds. Interlined with 151.

    157 Braid Station/Newport – Brunette, Cape Horn, Mundy, Austin, Hillcrest, Linton, Como Lake, Thermal, Moray, St Johns, Barnet, Ioco. Covers “Mundy” north-south.

    156 Burquitlam Station/Coquitlam Rec Centre – Clarke, Foster, Whiting, Cottonwood, Blue Mountain, Foster, Schoolhouse, Winslow. Covers “Foster” east-west.

    C77 Braid Station/Port Moody Station – Brunette, Marmont, Austin, Gatensbury, Henry, Moody, St Johns, Williams. Covers the “Marmont and Gatensbury” north-south routes. Seems expendable.


    159 Lougheed Station/Port Coquitlam Centre – Uses Highway 1 to take advantage of bus only ramps. No local service until Port Coquitlam.
    791 Lougheed Station/Maple Ridge – Same as above.
    333 Guildford/Lougheed Station – Same as above. Reroutes to Guildford Park & Ride during peak hours. Otherwise no stops.

    I tried to keep to a grid and minimize service duplication, but should function fine with current service levels. I’ve taken the focus away from Coquitlam Rec Centre because it’s not a very major centre. Regular buses are unable to use Gatensbury, so a shuttle will suffice. Although, I think this route is largely expendable. While the current 157 routing is practically abandoned, the new C77 should help to fill in the holes. During peak hours, buses can divert slightly to Coquitlam Rec Centre to provide service to Centennial school or run school specials. No more Lougheed Highway bus service as well. I also reduced the unnecessary movements around Coquitlam Station by having two routes go to Lincoln Station instead. Also another big improvement is that you no longer need to go to Braid Station unless you are going to New Westminster or Burnaby! Interestingly enough, the old routes numbered 7 and so do the new ones!

    I know it’s rarely this easy, because there’s a dozen different statistics, studies, and information that needs to be looked over that I can’t even begin to imagine.

  • By Cliff, July 26, 2012 @ 2:51 am

    A small addendum. I noticed there’s a gap in my new routings between the 156 and the 157 as well as a lack of service on Laurentian. The 156 should instead continue south on Porier, Austin, Laurentian and possibly continue south on Schoolhouse to Woolridge and onto Braid Station, much as the current 153 does now. This would provide a nice link at Schoolhouse at Brunette and allow a transfer to the 156. Arguably, this would create duplication with the new 151, but it might be acceptable because of the large number of commercial areas along the duplication.

    To avoid the duplication, I would need to come up with an alternative 151 routing from about Cape Horn at United to Lougheed at Brunette to avoid the fact that much of the routing is already doubled up with the new 157 and 151. Which seems rather difficult to do.

  • By Cliff, July 26, 2012 @ 2:56 am

    Bah. I mean the 156 should continue east on Foster to Linton, then go south to Austin, take Laurentian.

    Haha, this is hard work!

  • By Eugene Wong, July 31, 2012 @ 1:18 am

    @ Cliff

    I looked over the first few suggestions, and it seems that I am confused. I think that it would be clearer if we saved certain numbers for certain routes.

    The west-east routes should be numbered #151-#155. The north-south routes should be numbered #156-159.

    #151 could cover Como Lake and eastwards, as you suggest.

    #152 could cover Foster, as you suggest.

    #153 could cover Austin, and eastwards, as you suggest.

    Just using those 3 numbers for those 3 routes would make a *****HUGE***** difference [in my opinion, of course].

    To make this area easier to understand, we can call the west-east routes snakes, and the north-west routes ladders.

    For my suggested #151 & #153 routes, each route has a bit on the east that can get confusing to new riders. The way to help with that is to call those portions tails. The portions of the routes that are west of the main drags would be called heads.

    So, the tail of the #151 would be on Spuraway and Ranch Park, etc. The tail of the #153 would be on Mariner and Riverview, etc.

    For the ladders, we could call them ladder tops or ladder feet, or some such thing.

    #C77 & #157 seem good.

  • By Jhenifer Pabillano - Buzzer Editor, August 7, 2012 @ 3:06 pm

    Hi you guys: I have been passing your comments on to our planning team and here is the response they have sent through. Apologies for not getting it up sooner!

    Recent comments on this post seem to be focused on ideas for restructuring the network in Coquitlam. Bus services in the Coquitlam area will definitely see some changes in 2016 with the opening of the Evergreen Line. The details haven’t been worked out yet, and a lot will depend on broader funding availability. We do plan on consulting broadly with the public on any changes to the architecture of the network well in advance.

    We likely can’t do a full overhaul of the bus network (in line with some of Cliff’s suggestions) until we have a chance to undertake a new Area Transit Plan process for the Tri-Cities. In the meantime we’ll continue to make modest improvements through our Network Management program. We hope to come out this fall to consult on a few specific ideas, including some changes to the network in Coquitlam and in New Westminster. Stay Tuned!

  • By Eugene Wong, August 13, 2012 @ 4:28 pm

    @ Sheba

    I looked at Clarkson, when I passed by Columbia Station. I was wrong. Clarkson is directly opposite from the station entrance. The block where you want to put a bus stop would have enough parking for 3 or more community buses. The walking would be exactly/almost the same as it is now.

    The only question is whether or not Translink can do anything with the time saved.

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