TransLink’s Hype and Hoopla About BRT Is Just Another Wet Squibb!

When is Bus Rapid Transit just a an express bus route? When TransLink claims an express bus route is BRT

Real BRT operates on a fully dedicated Rights-of-Ways, with priority signalling at intersections, offering headway’s in the 2 minute to 5 minute ranges.

BRT operating on dedicated R-o-W. Not happening in Vancouver.

BRT operating on dedicated R-o-W. Not happening in Vancouver.

What TransLink is palming off onto the public is a tarted up bus service like the Broadway B-99, with some HOV lanes to create the illusion and with our extremely gullible media, will be an easy sell to the public.

Here is the core issue, TransLink just cannot tell the truth; it cannot be straight with the public.

But what would one expect when the CEO is an American spin doctor selling snake oil to the rubes!

The real insult to both the transit customer and the taxpayer is that the real cost of real BRT, is only slightly less s than at-grade light rail, which has a far bigger bang for the taxpayers buck.

The following graph from Ontario’s MetroLink tells the tale of the real costs involved.

Cost comparisonSad to say, TransLink and the Mayors council on Transit are again deceiving the public with fake news about the regional transit system and it seems the premier and the provincial NDP government are in full agreement with this.

Shame on TransLink. Shame on The Mayors Council. Shame on Premier Eby!

Screenshot 2023-11-16 at 15-32-00 TransLink unveils first 3 planned new Bus Rapid Transit routes - BC

TransLink unveils three new bus rapid transit routes in Metro Vancouver

TransLink has identified the first three bus rapid transit routes coming to Metro Vancouver.

According to the Mayors’ Council on Regional Transportation, the three new “priority corridors” will be King George Boulevard from Surrey Centre to White Rock, Langley Centre to Haney Place, and Metrotown to the North Shore.

Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) “is a high-frequency rapid transit service with dedicated bus lanes and rail-like stations.”

Mayors’ Council Chair Brad West says the three new corridors are part of the first phase of the 10-year Access for Everyone Plan.

“The three new corridors being announced today had been selected to maximize people’s access to rapid transit based on ridership potential, future housing and population growth projections, as well as strong support from mayors to bring these projects to their communities. Simply put, these rapid transit projects … will help us unlock housing potential and keep up with record-setting population growth,” he said Thursday.

West says the B.C. government’s plan to densify housing near transit hubs across the province “underscores the urgency to expand our transit system.”

“From a regional standpoint, each of these corridors will provide major improvements to residents in need of better transit,” West said.

BRT corridor timeline

The Mayors’ Council says it will now be “stepping up” engagement with municipalities to “nail down a concept design.”

“From there, we’ll start to do engagement with the public in the spring, summer of 2024. As we get into 2024, we’ll start to engage the public as we have that alignment, to really discuss and get their feedback. It’s so important to us to get public feedback to understand how this will impact people’s lives, right? This transit expansion is going to be such a game changer for the region, I think it’s going to help a lot of people,” explained TransLink CEO Kevin Quinn.

“From there, we’ll in 2025 likely move, once we have an agreement on that pending funding, we’d moved to procurement stage and then likely construction, potential service rolling out in 2027.”

Transportation and Infrastructure Minister Rob Fleming says the BRT plan comes “at an incredibly good time for TransLink,” adding these BRT corridors and other future plans will help the province deliver on its housing goals.

“We also want to anchor the BRT plan that is under discussion today to new legislation that we passed as a government around transit-oriented development. We have to make smart investments in our transportation network that also meets the goals of providing more affordable housing choices for people in this region and that’s what we aim to do,” he said.

səlilwətaɬ (Tsleil-Waututh Nation) Chief Jen Thomas says “safe, quick, and reliable transit” is critical to the Tsleil-Waututh community, “to keep us connected to the wider community and to transport us to and from work and school.”

Squamish Nation Chairperson Khelsilem echoed the importance of transit, noting BRT through the North Shore “presents a unique chance to enhance the quality of life for all residents, including the Squamish People, who have been an integral part of this region for nearly 400 generations.”

“Establishing a dedicated Bus Rapid Transit link from Park Royal to Metrotown promises improved accessibility to essential services, job opportunities, and community resources while alleviating congestion,” Khelsilem said. “The long-awaited prioritization of the North Shore is a welcome development, and the Squamish Nation looks forward to collaborating with local, regional, provincial, and federal governments to work together to create shared benefits for all our communities.”


10 Responses to “TransLink’s Hype and Hoopla About BRT Is Just Another Wet Squibb!”
  1. Major Hoople says:

    Much ado about nothing.

    On our side of the pond, BRT was a big fad in the 80’s and 90’s, which lead to the guided bus/GLT craze twenty some years ago.

    There is a fatal flaw with BRT or guided bus, both are expensive to operate.

    In the past, Canadian politicians as well our local elected officials, cite South American BRT as some sort of philosophers stone for transit. That was, until the bills started coming in. Wages were much cheaper in Brazil, than in Frankfurt as operational standards much higher at home than abroad. added to the mix, studies showed that the only way a bus could be competitive with a tram, it had to be guided.

    I think your politicians will find out in short order that despite the choir of angels, guided bus, BRT, are poor in attracting new ridership. In our local, tram ridership is increasing, while BRT stagnates.

    We find quite absurd, that your politicians want good public transport, yet completely ignore the tram as it is one of the few transit modes that has a proven record in attracting ridership.

    We are also hearing rumors that Quebec City’s proposed tram is no more and instead they want to build a REM light metro. We just shudder at this if true.

  2. legoman0320 says:

    Translink bus Express service

    1996 The B- Line Service

    High frequency
    Rush hour bus lanes
    Selective Signal priority(Equivalency was vehicles emergency extensions of green lights)
    Regular bus stop
    Bus D60,D60lf,D60lfr

    2020 BRT light.

    Peak Frequency up to 3 min
    Partial bus lanes in select sections
    Selected signal priority(Q jumping)
    Bus stop wayfinding and information.
    Bus D60lfr or XDE60

    2027? Real BRT or Full BRT

    Own dedicated lanes Full length
    Off bored payment
    High frequency 2min or 3 min
    Signal priority(Proximity Detection)
    BRT station with wayfinding and information.(Semi enclosed structure)
    Bus XDE60, European Articulating bus 1 or 2 bands.

    Translink ask City councilors to Announce and commitment to meet New BRT standard for the region. It was a race to getting these projects approve as soon as possible. Extensions are 2 existing R-bus and 1 new R-bus(New branding In the future?) Funds approved for studying. A additional funding federal level Later date for construction.(Relying on Permanent transit fund Start 2026)

    Rapid Bus routes next will be upgrading them to be a SkyTrain. Excluding the R2 that has already been announced Upgraded to future:
    A. The most overcrowding.
    B. The most Daily boardings.
    C. The most annual bordings.
    D. Please City No Skytrain.

  3. zweisystem says:

    I see TransLink’s cheerleaders are back, trying to make silk purse out of a sows ear. You should know by now, that what TransLink says and claims, seldom ever materialize in practice.

    There is no budget for real BRT and headway’s will be 15 minute in the peak hour. The buses will travel in HOV lanes and there will be no priority signalling.

    There is no such thing as “light” BRT as this is just TransLink speak for an express bus.

    Repeating TransLink’s bumf is just what our mainstream media does and I can see you as well.

  4. Haveacow says:

    If you want to know what that actually looks like in a Canadian context, below is a short list of Canadian examples. There are also Canadian examples of what Vancouver has, sometimes known as BRT Lite! Or express buses with nice bus stops and occasionally, painted bus lanes. I won’t list those.

    You see the more transit agencies try and pass off BRT Lite or express buses as real Bus Rapid Transit, the harder the job is for people like me because I constantly have to spend time explaining the difference. It also becomes harder to get these improvements because of the confusion and ire it creates with the public. I’m not saying BRT Lite systems don’t improve transit, they do but at a much lower level of service improvement than true BRT often does.

    Brampton’s ZUUM Network is labeled as BRT but what it really is, is a good system of express buses, that has had a dramatic effect on Brampton Transit’s passenger numbers. However, just to the east of Brampton Transit is York Region Transit (YRT) with its VIVA BRT system. A Regional Municipality wide based transit system that did invest in Busways called by the marketing name, Rapidways. It’s effect was truly transformational for York Region but it did require over a billion dollars to build 38 km worth of Rapidways.

    This forces YRT planners at every single public meeting to explain to irate tax payers why Brampton’s much cheaper ZUUM BRT system really is nowhere near as good as VIVA Rapidways. Then having to explain that Rapidways have and will continue to, build ridership at levels several orders of magnitude more than Brampton Transit’s ZUUM BRT Network ever could, as long as Brampton’s system is just express buses operating in mixed traffic and a few km’s of painted bus lanes.

    Essentially having to explain constantly that the guy on the talk radio show you heard either doesn’t truly understand the difference between the two systems or is purposely trying to confuse you to build anger and radio ratings. This happens at every YRT planning meeting regarding new Rapidway routes. It’s more than annoying, it can in some cases, get dangerous for the planners.

    Yonge Street Viva BRT Rapidway

    Ottawa’s Greenboro Transitway and TrilliumLine interchange Station in 2014

    Ottawa’s South Keys Transitway and Trillium Line interchange Station

    Billings Bridge Transitway Station

    Mississauga Transitway

    Gatineau Rapibus

    Montreal Pie IX Busway

  5. zweisystem says:

    From what I can see, the so called BRT is just a tarted up Broadway B-Line Express bus, using existing HOV lanes.

  6. Haveacow says:

    @Legoman0320 in North America you are never going to see fully enclosed BRT stations anymore, they are just too expensive unless you have winters like Ottawa. The same for off bored fare payment, this means expensive fare gate devices in each station, most likely unmanned stations (absolute waste of time). You do that in China, or South America with their truly gigantic passenger numbers. In a European or North American context, that’s just too much like a light metro (Skytrain) or a heavy metro (Toronto subway, Montreal Metro). Remember, politicians build real BRT to try and save capital and operating costs, compared to rail based operating technologies.

    Lastly Bi-articulated buses still aren’t road legal in North America (Canada,USA). Ottawa tried in the 1990’s and Transport Canada & MTO (Ministry of Transportation Ontario) were forcing O.C.Transpo to jump through multiple hoops to allow them. This is a transit agency with the most extensive heavy BRT system in North America and by far the most experience in running BRT and still they were forcing limitations on them that would have made even basic operations with Bi-articulated buses difficult.

    Bi-articulated buses are difficult to maneuver in anything but absolutely clear roads, Ottawa’s Transitways were very busy making maneuvering difficult. Like standard articulated buses, they are easily humbled by moderate amounts of snow or ice. Most models still have hill climbing issues on wet or icy roads.

    Bi-articulated buses are twice as expensive as standard articulated buses, currently no North American companies produce a model, this means foreign suppliers with wickedly expensive part packages. Even Nova Bus, the Quebec based but mostly Volvo owned company, uses GM parts for its North American vehicles, due to the fact that even their own European Volvo parts are far more expensive than GM and GM look alike parts. Bi-articulated buses have far more non standard parts and components, like their entire engine and drive train system, braking systems and transmission. Non standard systems and components means higher maintenance and training costs. They also don’t last any longer than standard articulated buses, sometimes appreciably less than standard buses, although that is design dependant.

    Even Ottawa is moving away from articulated buses and switching to the newer North American friendly double decked buses. They hold more passengers, more stable on hills, they are not humbled by just 10-12 cm of snow, their easier to maintain and most important, they won’t spontaneously fish tail like articulated buses can.

    Although double-deckers have their own serious issues it seems the industry has turned away from articulated buses in general lately, we will see. Ultimately though, the main issue with BRT is still its perceived savings in operations vs. actual savings in operations. BRT works as long as passenger numbers are below a certain level. That level changes with each new system and it’s own operating and physical characteristics. Generally, at what level does adding another bus to carry more passengers stops saving money and starts costing extra money to operate. BRT has some interesting issues:

    1. At some level of passenger demand the BRT infrastructure needed to handle greater passenger demand, more and larger buses, forces said infrastructure to be more robust and or physically larger, thus more expensive, than the infrastructure needed to move the same number of passengers with rail based technology. At their core, buses don’t always make great rapid transit vehicles compared to rail based ones.

    2.BRT works best in environments where people costs are low and infrastructure costs are high. This limits their effectiveness in first world countries. At higher passenger levels, the operating costs of BRT get higher than rail because you can’t connect the vehicles together into a train, all with one operator. Buses also require more mechanical equipment and staff for maintenance, than rail based vehicles.

    3. BRT is not like a rail line with buses. If your so called experts spout this more than once, run for the hills. BRT and Rail operations are fundamentally different. Good BRT design can do things that rail just can’t or more precisely, shouldn’t do and or even attempt to do. Many things that BRT supporters claim that BRT can do as well as rail technology end up as spoiled opportunities because buses can’t generally operate in the same way, especially economically efficiently, as a train.

    I could go for days on this last point, entire volumes of books have been written on this issue. You will just have to trust me on this. 30 years of working in this industry and 30 years as a BRT passenger in Ottawa teaches you a few things. I would suspect that, many long time Ottawa transit passengers know and understand a lot more about the advantages and disadvantages of BRT operations than many of your B.C. based experts do.

  7. zweisystem says:

    What I find interesting, that despite the hype and hoopla about a subway to UBC is necessary, yet none of the announcements has shown any of the BRT servicing SFU or BCIT. Also, Valley politicians are scratching their heads over the Maple Ridge to Langley service as there is no demand for such a service, The big transit problem is East West, not North South.

    Also, what is not well known, because TransLink doesn’t want it to be known is that South Delta and South Surrey customers want the return of direct bus service to Vancouver as they greatly dislike the forced transfer at Bridgeport. I am aware of a study that in south Delta many former transit customers have invested in electric cars for the commute and by judging from visual observations on South Delta express buses (602, 603, 604) ridership (empty seats) has dramatically declined.

  8. zweisystem says:

    I would like to add this; I ma not anti bus or anti BRT, but with over 40 years talking to real experts on the subject, I have a fair grounding on the issue.

    Back around 2014, when the Broadway subway was first floated, I was asked about LRT and i said something like this; : there isn’t the ridership on Broadway to justify a subway, hell there isn’t the ridership on Broadway to justify anything other than the most basic of streetcar system.”

    Currently the peak hour service on the Broadway 99-B is 180 seconds or 3 minutes why not a 150 second or 2 `1/2 minute service?

    Evidently the CoV claimed that such a service was impossible.European electric bus styl service with stops every 400 to 500 metres apart from UBC to BCIT would be the best option, with peak hour 2 minute headway’s. One could even put express wires on Broadway as was done on Hastings St., for a through express service from Cambie St to Arbutus.

    Subways not buses wins elections.

  9. legoman0320 says:

    A bus Planner wants to get double articulated buses in Canada. The feeling on gap in between Skytrain in BRT plan.

    SFU Gondola
    BCIT BRT Upgraded to skytrain in the future.
    North shore and Burnaby residents will be having BRT Upgrade it to the skytrain.
    Langley to Maple Ridge BRT Speedier, Reliable and frequent option to connect the town centers.
    R1 Extension Connect to another town center. That hasn’t been connected by a fast and reliable service.

    Only 2 that won’t be connected for some time Lynn Valley and Deep cove.

    Once town centers are linked up, then it will be a race Capacity and upgrades.

    Peak only bus In decline across the lower mainland. Not knowing that they exist or All day bus is frequent.

    CMBC 99 B-Line
    Temporarily tested 2 minute frequencies. Outcomes of the test: Too many buses Stuck in intersections. The increase to operational funding was not worth it. Travel time was slower with a 2 minute frequency. Bunching of the buses Left caps in the schedule Waiting longer. Peak only bus Lane. Vancouver city councils can make simple change to dedicated bus lines all day?

    Zwei replies: Double articulated buses will never run in BC, too expensive, too complicated. SFU gondola is a vanity project for the CoB because they supported the Broadway subway and the flip flop from LRT to SkyTrain in Surrey. Other than the extension to UBC and that would be in doubt, there will be no more SkyTrain built in metro Vancouver as Alstom will have ceased production and no other company produces compatible cars. The current fleet replacement has sealed that deal.

    The CoV could run at 2 minute headway’s for the 99-B, but then if they did, no subway. The technology is available to preempt traffic lights at intersections as most emegancy vehicles in metro Vancouver are equipped with such. 2 minute headway’s are quite possible but when politicians want a subway, they instruct the engineering department to make it so.

    The amount of dishonest transit planning in Vancouver is staggering, but with only about 14% of regional population using transit, no one really cares.

  10. Haveacow says:

    1. Double or Bi articulated buses aren’t road legal, yet. To make them legal, will require the first operator to do some kind forced and expensive, combined Transport Canada/ BC’s Transportation Ministry’s vehicle test program. A massive pain in the ass operationally for that first operator.

    2. No one in North America makes them, yet. Foreign buses come with expensive and non competitive parts packages, thus adding more cost to the vehicle purchase. There is no North American training packages for drivers or maintenance staff, this kind of background stuff gets really pricey and adds to the purchase price. Once your maintenance staff does get that training expect them to be lured away (stolen) by other transit agencies by over the top, incredibly high paid positions, who will want them for their unique set of skills.

    3. Bi-articulated buses are twice the cost of a standard articulated bus, which are 40% – 50% more expensive than standard 40 ft. or 12 metre bus. On top of which, these enormous vehicles are filled with non standard (expensive) systems and parts. Plus you need to build a new or severely upgrade an existing bus garage, which again, is really expensive. Battery electric buses have similar issues and costs compared to standard diesel buses as well.

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