Wednesday, November 21, 2012

TransLink's Bus Service Optimization

Last month, the BC government released an audit of TransLink that found that TransLink could be more efficient by cutting services in some areas to improve service in other areas. TransLink calls this "service optimization" and has proposed some major changes to the transit system in Metro Vancouver as a result. Public consultation on the changes started this Monday and will wrap up on December 13th.

Before I go over some of the changes in the South of Fraser, I was reminded of a post that Gordon Price made on the inequality between different transportation modes. For road users, delay and maximized road usages is considered a bad thing; delay+utiliziation=cost. For transit users, delay and maximized transit usage is considered a good thing; delay+utilization=efficiency. It’s funny how that works and I’ve never seen a performance audit of the Ministry of Transportation, but I guess we live in a world of double standards.

Anyways in the South of Fraser, TransLink proposes to make a number of changes to the network:
312 Service Refinement: Remove Scottsdale Mall detour to improve travel times and simplify route
314 Service Refinement: Remove River Road segment to reduce duplication and simplify route
332/335 Service Redesign: Combine services and reroute via 72nd Ave to Newton Exchange
502 Service Redesign: Introduce new 503 express service to Langley / Aldergrove and truncate 502 at Langley Centre

Overall the South of Fraser comes out ahead in this rounds of service optimization as it appears that service will be improving. The new combined 332/335 will provide better connectivity between Fleetwood and Newton in Surrey.

Proposed combined 332/335 route. Click image to enlarge.

I’m also excited about the proposed 503 express service that will speed up service between Aldergrove, Langley City, and the SkyTrain in Surrey. The bus will serve all stops east of Langley Centre, but will operates as a B-Line-type service west of Langley Centre; only making a limited number of stopped. The bus will run every 30 minutes and will not impact the frequency of the 502. The corridor is in desperate need of service improvement as it is one of the busiest transit corridors in the region. The new 503 will certainly speed up the journey for Aldergrove and Langley City passengers and I hope this route will get frequent transit network status if/when TransLink gets more money. I’m not too upset that TransLink has removed the Salmon River section of the route. It only ran 5 times per day and was a useless throw back from the BC Transit era.

Proposed new 503 route. Click image to enlarge.

Of course other changes in the South of Fraser transit network include a real B-Line service between Guildford, Whalley, and Newton, and a new express bus between the 202nd Street Park and Ride in Langley and Braid SkyTrain.

All in all these are positive changes for the South of Fraser. In fact in Metro Vancouver, it appears that only two areas outright lost transit service: Salmon River in the Township of Langley and the Ruskin/Thornhill area in Maple Ridge. With all these changes though, the frequent transit network has not expanded. The only way to ensure the sustainability of the region is to increasing transportation choice by expanding the frequent transit network, providing rapid transit options, and improving cycling and walking infrastructure.

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