Did the bus just pass you? It’s not uncommon in Vancouver.Posted: 17 May 2011
This is an interesting article about the reality that many bus commuters deal with on a daily basis. Route #49 is certainly a serial offender, and likely deserves its #1 ranking, but the data provided by Coast Mountain, the TransLink subsidiary that operates the buses, reveals that it’s not necessarily the busiest routes that pass up on passengers. The Sun piece noted that the 49 (between Victoria and Cambie), 25 (between Oak and Fraser – see graphic below), and 22 (on Burrard and Cornwall) are among the top 5 pass-up routes.
I think there are some caveats when interpreting this data; as alluded to in the article, one of them is the possibility of understated data, due to drivers not recording passed-up stops when they’re encountered. Another is found in the cartographic interpretation of all the stops of a particular route. The termini of certain routes appear to have inflated numbers for pass-ups. For less busy termini, the data as presented doesn’t make sense. Several examples include the 63rd Avenue loop for the 16, Harrison Loop for the 20, Dunbar Loop and Knight/Marine for the 22, and Brentwood Station for the 25 (eastern terminus in the map below).
I’ll just focus on my favourite whipping-route, the 25 Brentwood Station/UBC (or as I’d like to call it, the 25 King Edward-East 22nd). 4th in the most-passed-up list, the 25 is horrifyingly inconsistent in terms of scheduling, likely contributing to its ranking in the list. Unlike the other routes in the top 5, the 25 is unique in that the volume of pass-ups is consistent for most of the route west of Nanaimo Station, and is heaviest between Oak and Fraser.
I know that in the morning peak, heading west from Nanaimo Station to Granville, the data displayed in the map are consistent with my personal experience. Westbound at Windsor and Fraser are particularly busy stops and pass-ups are common, It only gets worse the further west the bus travels, simply because the bus has already filled by then and passengers are unlikely to disembark.
What makes the 25 interesting compared to the 49 is that even west of Granville, pass-ups are still happening. The Dunbar and 16th Avenue segments are still quite notorious for pass-ups, continuing the trend from my days as a student at UBC. Even the introduction of route 33 doesn’t seem to alleviate the condition.
Despite what the article notes are some short-term solutions, including TransLink’s service optimization, the bottom line is that the bus system is woefully under-serviced to keep up with passenger demand, especially in the “peak of the peak”. Hopefully this article can serve as a wake-up call to senior governments to provide additional funding to public transit in Canada generally, and in Greater Vancouver in particular.
Picture source: Vancouver Sun