Tuesday, February 26, 2013

TransLink Bus Service Optimization Plan: Public Feedback

In November of last year, I posted about TransLink’s plan to be more aggressive with the optimization of bus service in the region. TransLink was already in the process of shifting service hours away from less busy routes to busier routes, but kicked things into high gear as a result of the recommendations of the TransLink Commissioner and an audit by the Provincial government. An example of optimization at work is the proposal for Aldergrove to get better bus service, but Salmon River/Uplands in Langley to lose bus service. I think that the process of optimization is good, but the key to making our region truly livable will be to increase spending on transit to increase overall service.

Due to the proposed 2013/14 service optimization plans which you can read about on TransLink’s website, the agency held a series of public consultation events from mid-November to mid-December. The full results of the public consultation are available online. The following changes have been proposed to the service optimization plan due to the feedback TransLink has received:

-C1/C2: an alternate proposal was developed in consultation with community groups in Burnaby Heights, retaining the current route and reducing frequencies during off-peak periods only
-211: with a range of feedback raised over the proposed removal of the Fairway Drive loop, TransLink has chosen to retain the existing route instead
-C48 & C49: a revised proposal was created to ensure service coverage in Thornhill, Ruskin and Whonnock is maintained, leaving the C49 unchanged and improving the usefulness of the C48 with a connection to West Coast Express and extension via McClure Drive in Albion

It was interesting to see that there was strong support for many of the changes TransLink has proposed to the bus network. I was surprised that nothing changed to the plan for the Tri-Cities area as there was strong opposition to many of the cuts that TransLink plans to make in that area.

The good news story is that even with service optimization, TransLink ridership continues to grow at a rate faster than population growth.

Another interesting note is that TransLink had 281 people submit feedback at real-life open houses and 532 people submit feedback online. It seems to me that online public consultation is coming of age. I hope TransLink continues to work at making the online experience more bidirectional. For example, it would be good to be able to live chat with someone at TransLink when submitting feedback on their plans.

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