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Translink Buzzer Blog

Share your thoughts on downtown Vancouver bus service!

Trolley buses in downtown Vancouver.

Trolley buses in downtown Vancouver.

UPDATE: The Downtown Vancouver Local Bus Service Review: Phase 1 Consultation Summary is now online!

We’re looking for your feedback on bus service in downtown Vancouver!

The City of Vancouver and TransLink are teaming up to study the downtown Vancouver bus network, developing a shared vision for service over the next five years to match rider demand and the City’s transport goals.

The study is called the Downtown Vancouver Local Bus Service Review, and we’ll be gathering your feedback all summer to help us develop concepts for public discussion in fall.

For all the details, visit the City of Vancouver’s study site, or TransLink’s study page.

Why are we doing this study?

The study area for the Downtown Vancouver Local Bus Service Review.

The study area for the Downtown Service Review.

With this study, both TransLink and the City of Vancouver are aiming to establish a common vision for bus service in downtown Vancouver, especially in light of possible major street changes that offer challenges and opportunities for the downtown bus network.

Major street changes that have been made or proposed recently include:

  • Canada Line
  • Exploration of the 800-Block Robson Street as a permanent plaza
  • Potential changes to the Georgia and Dunsmuir Viaducts and surrounding areas
  • Proposed move of the Vancouver Art Gallery and potential for a new plaza in the 600-block of Cambie Street

As well, the downtown population has already more than doubled over the past 20 years, with most growth in the neighbourhoods east of Granville Street, such as Yaletown, Downtown South and along False Creek.

The study is intended to supplement to TransLink’s regular planning work in the area. The last Vancouver/UBC Area Transit Plan was completed in 2005, and the next update is not planned for several years.

(We only do one area transit plan at a time, and the current plan underway is the Northeast Sector Area Transit Plan!)

Get involved in person and online

First, join us at two open houses in June 2013:

Open House #1
Date: June 22, 2013
Time: 1 – 4 p.m.
Location: Strawberry Festival, 1447 Barclay St., Vancouver

Open House #2
Date: June 26, 2013
Time: 3 – 8 p.m.
Location: Vancouver Public Library, 350 West Georgia St., Vancouver

We will also have an online survey that will open on June 21 and run until July 12, 2013. I’ll post the link here once it is ready!

Update: the survey is now live!

Click here to take the Downtown Bus Review Survey!

Again, for more information, please do visit the City of Vancouver’s study site, or TransLink’s study page. And tell your friends! :)


  • By Stefani, June 19, 2013 @ 1:33 am

    The number 5 just stranded me and a bunch of other chick at granville and robson. We waited no less than 45 minutes for two buses which never arrived. Eventually everyone started walking and I took a cab home. Why do I spend $91 on a pass again?

  • By Voony, June 19, 2013 @ 9:45 am

    the Vision council has a program, called Viva, which mandate is to “reduce buses on street”…and what you have experimented, Stefani, is just the consequence of this unfortunate program.

    Vancouver spend money to make your bus experience bitter!

    Why Viva doesn’t try to close streets used by cars and not buses, instead of one used by buses only, is well beyond me!

    …but that is inline with the bus hostile policies of the current Vancouver council…

  • By mike0123, June 19, 2013 @ 9:57 pm

    My thoughts are too long to fit in this post. I put them in a proposal.

    I agree that the current council has done little to improve transit, but I think there is a way to satisfy objectives.

  • By Sheba, June 20, 2013 @ 12:12 am

    A few comments from Mike’s proposal that I think are long overdue (some of them have been talked about on here before)

    * increase stop spacing (even without changing any of the routes, this would make a huge difference)

    * connect routes to Skytrain stations, 99 B-Line, and proposed B-Line

    * avoid putting routes on streets that are closed frequently or for long periods of the year (move buses from Granville to Howe or Seymour)

    Also I’d like to add, there are 12 different bus routes that travel over Lions Gate Bridge, and 7 of them travel to Park Royal before branching off. It would make way more sense to have a route that travels between downtown Vancouver and Park Royal, and then transfer to their bus at Park Royal.

    Oh no, the horror of it all, having to transfer! Oh wait, pretty much the entire South of Fraser has to do that…

  • By Eugene Wong, June 20, 2013 @ 1:27 am

    @ Translink

    I couldn’t thumb-up Vonny’s post. Is that on purpose??

    @ Voony and All

    Maybe it’s good that Viva is hostile to buses. Maybe it would push buses to other neighbourhoods, and then there will be more people in other neighbourhoods riding, and then the neighbourhoods might become more developed.

    No? Well, a guy can dream, can’t he? :^) :^/

  • By bizzy, June 20, 2013 @ 8:16 am

    for servicing a busy corridor that is full of tourists, students and residents the 5 Robson bus service is deplorable. Anytime between 3:00 and 7:00pm you’re really lucky if you can actually get on a bus if you’re not boarding in the first few stops, and then afterwards the busses are packed to an unsafe level with standees to the point where even getting off of the bus is a huge challenge. I see seniors trying to use this route during this time and really feel for them as they don’t have the ability to walk instead. There needs to be more of these busses. No wonder tourists opt to take the tour busses travelling through the area much more than public transit, many days they run more frequently than the bus. Also, at the end of June the 800 block of Robson will once again close off (you know, so it can only be populated by tourists/people to enjoy on weekends and holidays) so that the 5 Robson can take the weirdest, most inconvenient de-tour that doesn’t make logical sense. All this does is add about 5 extra minutes of travel time to people that rely on this bus to drop them off at a different location that will still put them behind because they would still need to walk to granville or take the train an extra stop. This bus route’s capacity and alternate routing were clearly not designed with the fact that it runs through a densely populated urban area that borders on a heavy tourist/shopping area. Any other major city can do it right, learn from them.

  • By Sheba, June 21, 2013 @ 6:23 pm

    The questionnaire is live – just click on “TransLink’s study page” and then on the “Get Involved” tab.

  • By Voony, June 22, 2013 @ 12:04 am

    @Eugene, hostility to bus, doesn’t translate in service moved elsewhere, but in less efficient service, what translates in a one more expensive to provide, and attracting fewer patrons: more spending/less revenue, that is not good business!

    The work of Mike0123 is a good one: it carries lot of good ideas (like short turning of bus 3,8 at Main#hasting)…but betray a network designed to avoid a whole part of downtown…which become virtually unaccessible by not very legible surface transit (see comment by Bizzy : is having a pedestrianized Robson and Granville not accessible by people with mobility challenge is a move in the right direction?), and you will also notice that the surface transit is pretty much disconnected of the underground one (the whole Robson corridor is fully disconnected from the Canada line, so I guess there is room for improvment…

    here are some of my ideas:

    …thought, I am not sure about the 6 on Expo/Pacific Bld – it could use Cambie as well, but, then connection with the Expo line become poor, >200 meter walking –

    I will write a post to explain the reasoning behind the map but I think it is mostly straighforward….

  • By Jhenifer Pabillano - Buzzer Editor, June 24, 2013 @ 2:55 pm

    Hi all – interesting points all! I’ve sent them along to our planning team, but please do make sure you’re putting your feedback in the survey so it is formally captured in the study:

    I’ve put the survey link in the post as well now, hurrah!

  • By Sheba, June 24, 2013 @ 4:00 pm

    I was just looking at the map of downtown bus routes vs the Network Primer and it really makes no sense. Esp “Avoid duplication or competition between transit
    services” – uhm then how come there are 7 routes on Granvillle, 6 of which come across the Granville Bridge. That’s major duplication, just like the downtown to Park Royal bus routes I mentioned above.

    Most of the routes seem to be out getting into/out of downtown, with a few thrown in for moving around within downtown. That doesn’t seem very productive for all the people living there.

    Also Voony, 200 meter walking isn’t that big of a deal. The primer also lists “400 meters or 5 minute walk”. I walk a bit further than that to get to the train, so I know from personal experience it’s really not that far. 200 meters would only be about 2.5 minutes.

  • By Sheba, June 24, 2013 @ 4:02 pm

    *’seem to be out’ should ‘seem to be about’

  • By mike0123, June 24, 2013 @ 7:22 pm

    Thanks Voony. The suggestion to move bus routes from Granville to the Howe/Seymour couplet has several motivations. Mainly, I think it makes transit faster and more predictable. It creates simple turn around points for routes heading in both direction. It enables shared stops for local routes and limited-stop routes, which regardless of their name have frequent stops downtown. I don’t see much chance of articulated diesel buses on the Granville Mall.

    The motivation to move the Robson bus from Robson to Pender between Burrard and Granville is more to create a larger Robson Square than for the sake of transit. That said, the Robson bus has to turn north to get to the Expo Line at some point and this is the fastest possible connection to that line for everyone in the West End. It also results in a better and simpler routing between Yaletown and downtown, and eliminates the turn around downtown.

    The detour that the 5 takes via Smithe is a better example of the current council not caring about transit. Maybe I don’t understand the motivation, but I suspect it is to avoid traffic delays caused by the street closure and the opposed left turn at Burrard and Robson.

    The connections are actually quite easy from the proposed 5 and 6 to the Expo Line and Canada Line.
    5 to Expo Line at Burrard: 30 m to entrance, 130 m to platform.
    5 to Canada Line at Waterfront: 55 m to entrance, 130 m to platform.
    6 to Canada Line at Yaletown: 10 m to entrance, 110 m to the platform.
    6 to Expo Line at Stadium: 130 m to entrance, 190 m to platform.

    As it is those distance are:
    5/6 to Canada Line at VCC: 20 m to entrance, 110 m to platform.
    5/6 to Expo Line at Granville: 40 m to entrance, 150 m to platform.
    These are all measured from the centre of the street that the bus runs on and from my memory of underground passageways. The average distance goes from 130 m to 140 m, not enough to matter.

    Sheba, most of the routes over the Granville Bridge have to duplicate each other. The ones that don’t are the 4 and the 50, both of which are duplicated everywhere they go.

  • By Nick, June 26, 2013 @ 1:05 pm

    There should be a new rule that states “No more new transit for Vancouver until you can take transit from Maple Ridge to Vancouver and have it take less than 2 hours.” WCE doesn’t count since it only goes in one direction at extremely limited times.

  • By Sheba, June 26, 2013 @ 6:56 pm

    I just checked Google maps and it says you can drive (from McIntosh Ave and Edge St to Rogers Arena) in 47 mins to 1:04 (depending on route) vs 1:43 to 1:55. So in theory it’s doable in less than 2 hours, but it still takes over double the time to take transit than it does to drive.

    Gee and they wonder why people outside of the city of Vancouver still drive instead of taking transit…

  • By Fair, June 26, 2013 @ 9:28 pm

    It’s about 9:30pm right now… with a 701 and 160, you can be downtown 1hr and 43 minutes. So it’s doable in under 2hrs now. It’s kinda sad when Vancouver invested in Transit (ie no freeway), but Burnaby, Port Coquitlam, and Coquitlam spent money on HOV lanes, Barnet expansion, Pitt River bridge expansion and other many car options in the 90’s. And now you want to spend money on transit. Shame.

  • By Eugene Wong, July 1, 2013 @ 9:46 pm

    I like Nick’s suggestion. It makes me want to say something, too.

    When I tried to get some help with the #326 route, there were plenty of excuses: “We’re going to make the #388.”; they were too busy; they had to do this and that.

    So, now that there is no need to deal with Vancouver’s UBC – SkyTrain connection, they still channel resources to that project. They haven’t even built the Evergreen or Surrey’s SkyTrain extension or Surrey’s B-Line, and they are prioritizing a gondola and Vancouver’s extension.

    I say that that is ridiculous.

    Fair has a good point about how they avoided the freeways, while others didn’t, but we also have to bear in mind that Vancouver took all the best land development contracts, and pushed the “bad” contracts away. To make matters worse, they and UBC developed big communities in areas that are significantly surrounded by water. That means that a lot of people must travel over water to get to downtown, and Granville Island.

    It’s disgraceful.

  • By Sheba, July 2, 2013 @ 11:30 am

    It’s kind of funny that TransLink has talked plenty about city land use planning while ignoring that Vancouver has some that’s pretty poor – but it’s been here awhile so we’re supposed to just accept it and move on.

    Who thought that putting a major university (UBC) way out at the westernmost part of Vancouver, surrounded by water on 3 sides, and forcing people to trek across the city to get there was a good idea? Who thought that putting downtown Vancouver on a tiny peninsula that’s almost an island on the northern edge of Vancouver was a good idea?

    But transit has to go out of their way to service these areas with high levels of transit, while ignoring needs of the rest of the region. How about transforming the mess of routes in Burnaby, New West and Coquitlam into a more logical grid-like system that actually makes sense? How about adding east/west routes (instead of just north/south routes) into the South Of Fraser so people can travel within the area without needing a car? It’s still set up for getting into/out of Vancouver, which is not what everyone needs.

    How about in the near term continuing the Millennium Line out only as far as Canada Line, while at the same time continuing the Expo Line down Fraser Highway in Surrey a comparable distance.

  • By Bill Kinkaid, February 4, 2014 @ 9:56 am

    @Sheba: In regular hours, only two routes run downtown to Park Royal, the 250 and 257. All the other West Van routes terminate at Park Royal and are only extended downtown during peak hours.

    As for all those routes going over the Granville bridge, they’re carrying people going somewhere, mostly downtown or to transfer to another route going from east to west side or vice versa. Are you suggesting they terminate somewhere on the south side (where would they build a transit centre?) to catch another bus to go downtown?

    @mike0123: some good ideas there. But the 4/7 and 14/16 do not duplicate the other routes’ service, they ARE the service. If you eliminated one of them, you’d soon notice the difference on the route that was left. And the 50 does not duplicate the 84’s service but serves a completely different area. Unless you seriously think False Creek South should only be served by stops on Sixth at Alder and Leg in Boot.

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