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A check in on the 2013 bus service optimization consultation process

Caitlin gave us her feedback. Will you? Click the picture to see a larger version.

It’s the halfway point of the 2013 bus service optimization consultation. We thought we’d check in with one of the organizers of the open house events and the online questionnaire to see how it’s all going.

I sat down with Peter Klitz, a senior planner in TransLink’s Service Planning group, who gave me the low down on the feedback we’re hearing, some thoughts on the subject of optimization and the topics people are asking about.

Generally well received

Overall, Peter says the five in-person consultations thus far have been well received in most of the communities we’ve visited. Roughly 30 people on average have attended each open house so far, and there have been roughly 250 online questionnaires filled so far. TransLink’s meetings with two city councils and a few community groups have also been well received.

Optimization is not a substitute for area transit plans

Peter and his team have also been monitoring the comments on this subject here on the blog. He says he finds some of the comments refer to the changes not going far enough or being big enough in scope. To those comments Peter says,

“The process through which we optimize service is not meant to replace the area transit plan process. Area transit plans takes a look at the overall longer-term needs of a sub-region where you look at opportunities to significantly restructure the network. Through that process we look at the tradeoffs and benefits of making more significant changes to how the network functions.”

In other words, area transit plans are more macro in planning scale, while optimization is more micro in scale and looks for ways to fine tune and make existing services more effective and more useful to a greater number of people.

Some concerns and some great ideas

Peter told me that because of the scale and nature of the service changes in the northeast sector of Metro Vancouver, particularly the Coquitlam area, we have received a number of comments from residents – which is not unexpected.  Some people are concerned they might have to walk a bit farther or make a connection between services.  There’s also been some concern about the impact on local community shuttle services when conventional buses are discontinued or converted to minibus.

In response to these concerns, Peter told me that the Service Planning team is gathering all the input we receive and investigating the feasibility of modify some of the proposals to mitigate the possible impacts of these changes. Peter noted one example which came up through consultation, which is best put in his words:

“There’s a proposed change to the service of the C24. We had a gentleman tell us that this change would remove service from a section of North Road where there is a fairly wide gab between 97 B-Line stops. The resident suggested adding a stop to the 97 B-Line stop to mitigate that impact to service. Not a bad idea!!  It’s a change that’s very possible for us to do and it’s something that we hadn’t necessarily thought of.”

With five more open houses remaining for members of the public to take advantage of, Peter told me why he thinks people who are interested in transit in Metro Vancouver should take advantage of these opportunities,

“If you like the proposed changes, or don’t like these changes, or if you have some ideas on how to modify them in order to reduce impact on riders, let us know. As planners, we’re not saying we have all the answers. A good idea can come from anywhere or anyone.”

For more information on this consultation or to take the online questionnaire you’ll want to go here. For easy reference, here’s the list of the last five open houses:

December 4 – 5pm – 7:30pm – Aldergrove Community Secondary School, Small gym, 26850 29th Avenue, Aldergrove

December 5 – 4pm – 7:30pm – Pitt Meadows Family Recreation Centre, Lobby, 12027 Harris Road, Pitt Meadows

December 6 – 4pm – 7:30pm – The ACT Arts Centre & Theatre, 11944 Haney Place, Maple Ridge

December 11 – 4pm – 7:30pm – West Vancouver Memorial Library, Welsh Hall, 1950 Marine Dr  West Vancouver

December 12 – 5pm – 7:30 – Gilmore Community School Gym, 50 South Gilmore Avenue, Burnaby


9 Comments

  • By Brian, November 30, 2012 @ 1:18 pm

    I personally think that all of the optimizations are really good, except one area and again I feel like Translink is dropping the ball here. For years there has been a push by local residents East of 248th St in Maple Ridge to gain more Transit service and now there are plans to cut some service south of 112th Ave and in the Thornhill neighborhood. In fact with all the growth I have been pushing for many years and even had a petition in the early 2000’s with more then 30,000 signatures pushing for a joint venture between Translink and BC Transit to provide service that would start in Mission at the library and run local service to 287th and Lougheed highway then connect with the C49 at 280th and Lougheed as well as the C48 at 240th and Lougheed and then the bus would run to Haney Place mall. Another routing that was proposed and had a petition to go with it was an express service from Bourquin Exchange in Abbotsford to Mt Lehman Rd then stops at 272nd and Fraser, 264th, Langley Hospital and then Langley Centre. Another option on that route would be to then leave Langley by running down 200th to Highway 1 and then running to Braid Station. I believe that Translink and BC Transit dropped the ball on those routes but now that there is a cut in service to routes in Maple Ridge even having a shorter local service from Mission to connect with the C49 cannot happen because there won’t be a connecting bus for the Mission service to connect with.

    I urge local residents of both Maple Ridge and Mission to speak up and get transit service restored and a local service connecting Mission to Maple Ridge.

  • By Sheba, November 30, 2012 @ 4:29 pm

    “…some of the comments refer to the changes not going far enough or being big enough in scope” – gee is that about me? :)

  • By Eugene Wong, December 1, 2012 @ 3:25 am

    @ Brian

    30,000 signatures is a lot, in my mind. May I ask how you went about gathering them? I would be surprised if I could gather more than 20 for any ideas that I have. I’m not very good at this.

  • By Eugene Wong, December 1, 2012 @ 4:18 am

    @ Peter Klitz

    Thanks for being open with us, when you shared that you never considered adding a bus stop. I must admit that I was bit uncomfortable with the fact that you never considered it, but the fact that you admit it, and welcomed input, helped to build trust in me.

  • By Sheba, December 1, 2012 @ 10:58 am

    Hmmm so all the big planning would be in the Area Transit Plans – and the only ones listed on the site are for the North Shore and the South Of Fraser. What and where are the plans for everywhere else?

    Also how can these Service Optimizations be “micro in scale” and about fine tuning routes when there’s the (quite large) changes to the 332/335 route. That sounds like something that should have been dealt with in Area Transit Plans.

    Note: I’m not against the 332/335 route change.

  • By dan t, December 2, 2012 @ 10:53 am

    Too much distance between the 97 B-Line stops on North Road? There are four B-Line stops in that area which are going to be replaced by ONE Evergreen station, not to mention that the part of the route in question is also serviced by TWO other bus services, the 151 and 156 (local bus services too!). Express bus stops should be reduced to reduce the impedance on the progress of society, not increased.

  • By Robert Willis - Buzzer Editor, December 4, 2012 @ 10:26 am

    Hi everyone: I’ve asked Peter and his team to respond to some of your comments :)

  • By dan t, December 4, 2012 @ 3:27 pm

    Thank you Robert for your efforts! I’ve actually got one unrelated issue for Peter, if he has time to look at this:

    It’s a particular annoyance on my daily commute which I feel should be addressed. On the 84 Westbound, there is a stop at Olympic Village, then about 50m later there is a stop at Ash St. That stop has passups happen very frequently during the morning rush, due to the full buses coming away from Olympic Village. For an “express” route, it seems counter-intuitive to place stops so close together; wouldn’t it be better to remove it? I’ve asked Customer Relations about this in the past but have never gotten more than a form-letter response.

  • By Brian, December 4, 2012 @ 6:08 pm

    @ Eugene

    I went door to door in the Ruskin and Silverdale area as well as left petitions at the gas stations near Silverdale and Lougheed highway as well as local business in downtown Mission to gather the signatures. Lots of people I talked to were hoping more could be done for transit service. Mission and Abbotsford are growing a lot and there is little to no transit service connecting them to Maple Ridge or Langley. There is the West Coast Express but that is only limited to certain times of the day and no weekend service and the 21 from Abbotsford to Aldergrove is a limited service also.

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