Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Commuting - Part I

Well I’ve started a new job in downtown Vancouver this week. I’m now one of the 2% of total trips from Langley that make their way into downtown Vancouver every weekday. Since this is the third day of travel, I have some observations. First, it appears that transit is barely keeping up with demand. I talked to many riders on the 502 bus, and they told me that in the last year the bus route has become packed. The 502 I took to work at 6:30am this morning was standing room only past 64th Avenue and Fraser Highway, and at 160th Street and Fraser Highway, the driver passed-by people that that was waiting at all stops west.

There are two types of buses in the South Fraser, packed buses and empty buses. Buses that run every 15min or better seem packed all the time, buses that run worse than every 15min seem to run almost empty at times. Now this makes total sense, but not in the way you might be thinking; Translink putting better service on already busy routes. This may be the case sometimes, but when transit service runs at 15min or better, you start attracting riders. Light Rail, of course, attracts even more choice riders in ways that buses can’t, but that another post. :-) When buses run every 30 min or every hour, only people that can’t (afford to) drive or environmentalist will take transit. So, when you start running frequent transit service, you attract more riders that compel even more frequent service. This is what is happening on the 502 today. Translink needs more service on packed routes like the 502, and needs to improve frequency on community shuttle route to make them more viable. This all of course requires money that apparently Translink does not have at the moment.

My second observation is that SkyTrain is packed at King George Station in the morning; it seems like the SkyTrain system is not keeping up with demand ether. At Waterfront station people ride the train into the holding area westbound, so that it's already standing room eastbound at Waterfront.

With the rise in the cost of fuel, people are discovering transit. It would be a shame if after riding an over-packed system for a week, people decide to go back to the car. If our governments are really serious about going green, they will need to put green $ into transit.


Corey said...

Unfortunately at off-peak times Skytrain is barely half full.

Light Rail Guy said...

Well Mr. 2%, lets try to figure what the capacity of SkyTrain is at King George station. What is the frequency of trains leaving the station? The what is the consists of the trains (4 car MK.1's or 2 or 4 car MK.2's)?

Now here is an observation, if SkyTrain is at capacity leaving Surrey for Vancouver, then how are New West, Burnaby and Vancouver riders able to get on? This constricts ridership.

As for people taking empty SkyTrain to Waterfront, to beat the crush, they have been doing that for over a decade! But don't get caught on a train taken out of service at Waterfront!

Nathan Pachal said...

Millennium Line and Expo Line share the same track from New West to Waterfront, so I guess that might help some people. The trains are normally 6-car? MK 1 sets that I get onto in the morning. When I lived in Calgary, they used to start trains at different stations in the morning so people had some room at the stops closer to downtown Calgary on the south line. Anyway, if we spent our money on light rail and not SkyTrain we could have more money for more rail lines (so, I don’t have to take the packed 502) and more rail cars. I believe there is only one company in the world that makes SkyTrain, and that can’t be good for getting the best value.