If you’ve taken a stroll along Robson street lately, you might noticed some recent changes. Temporary patios now line the sidewalk, live music playing at the street corners, murals coat the walls of buildings and three temporary bus bulbs have been constructed at the intersections of Burrard and Bute. These transit improvements are funded through TransLink’s Bus Speed and Reliability Program to support TransLink’s and the City of Vancouver’s response to COVID-19.
Bus bulbs are extensions of the sidewalk to allow buses to serve customers from the travel lane. They improve bus service by eliminating the need for buses to merge in and out of traffic to serve customers.
Robson street is one of the seven corridors in Metro Vancouver where bus bulbs are being introduced to improve travel times. Route 5 can now make a quick stop (a matter of a few seconds) to pick up customers and is gone without exiting the travel lane.
TransLink’s 2019 Bus Speed and Reliability Report found that 80% of bus routes had gotten slower over the past five years. This is largely due to increased traffic congestion. Transit priority measures like bus bulbs can help protect buses—and our customers—from congestion. Implementing rapid response measures such as bus bulbs respond to the COVID-19 pandemic and advance our long-term strategic goals.
Bus bulbs are especially effective in reducing delays in the local retail areas with parallel parking lanes and heavy traffic, where sidewalk space is highly valued. They create more space for amenities like landscaping, seating, bike racks, or on-street parking, as well as provide more opportunities for physical distancing. Together with tactical reallocation of street space introduced by municipalities, these changes allow for a flexible and fast response to the pandemic, while creating a more vibrant public space.
Earlier this summer TransLink identified 17 bus network kilometers in the region where bus bulbs could reduce delay while giving back curb spaces for other public life uses. TransLink will continue to work alongside cities to provide funding and support for bus bulb and other bus priority projects.
What are you thoughts about bus bulbs and other transit priority measures? Let us know in the comments section!