Monday, January 20, 2020

RapidBus Review: R5 Hasting Street, room for improvement. R1 King George Boulevard, fast and frequent.

With the introduction of the new TransLink RapidBus fast and frequent network in Metro Vancouver, my good friend Paul Hillsdon and I decided to ride every one of these routes two Saturdays ago. We were both impressed with the new R3 Lougheed Highway which cut travel time in half for people in Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows to get to Coquitlam Station. Would the R5 Hastings Street and R1 King George Boulevard route be equally impressive?

RapidBus at the SFU Transit Exchange. Select image to enlarge.

The R5 RapidBus used to be the 95 B-Line. The difference between the 95 B-Line and R5 RapidBus as far as Paul and I could tell was the new real-time, iconic bus stop signs and newly branded buses.

Hasting Street has HOV/Bus lanes that are only active Monday thru Friday. The westbound lane is active between 6am to 8:30am in Burnaby, and 7am to 10am in Vancouver. The eastbound lane is active between 3:30pm and 6pm in Burnaby, and 3pm to 7pm in Vancouver.

RapidBuses have all-door boarding. I took advantage of that at SFU. Select image to enlarge.

We were travel near noon on Saturday which meant that the RapidBus was in general travel lanes subject to the overall congestion of the road. While getting through Burnaby was good, things slowed to a crawl in Vancouver.

To improve the speed of the R5 Hasting Street, further transit priority measures are needed. The first consideration should be to extend the bus lanes to be active every day of the week. The second consideration should be to extend the operation hours of those HOV/Bus lanes.

The City of Vancouver has a lot of traffic signals. If you get suck in the wrong timing pattern, hitting all red lights slows down travel. To speed up R5 service in Vancouver, traffic signals should be programmed to let the R5 buses through. This used to happen with the B-Line to Richmond before the Canada Line.

Overall, there is room for improvement on the R5.

RapidBus at Surrey Central SkyTrain station. Select image to enlarge.

I’ve taken the R1 King George Boulevard when it was a B-Line. The City of Surrey has been investing in transit priority measures since the former B-Line was introduced in 2013. There are bus-only lanes, query-jumper lanes at traffic signals, and other transit priority measures. With the introduction of the new real-time, iconic bus stop signage, I believe that this route lives up to the RapidBus brand standard. The service felt fast.

RapidBus stop at Surrey Central. Select image to enlarge.

There is always room for improvement. I believe that the section of routing through the Surrey Central SkyTrain area could be improved where the buses turn off King George Boulevard, and at 104th and King George.

Paul and I at the Guildford transit exchange. Select image to enlarge.

It is my understanding that further transit priority measures are in the works for the R1 route, and I look forward to seeing them implemented.

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