TransLink buses on 4th Avenue in Vancouver see travel time drop of 20%

The relatively simple installation of “bus bulbs” at bus stops along West 4th Avenue in Vancouver has had a favourable impact on the speed of TransLink buses.

According to TransLink, the travel times of buses along a six block segment of West 4th Avenue between Balsam and Burrard streets has decreased by as much as 10% to 20%. This segment is also the most congested portion of the West 4th Avenue corridor.

Bus bulbs were recently installed at six bus stops by the City of Vancouver within this segment. These platforms are essentially an extension of the sidewalk onto the curbside parking lane, allowing buses to remain on the traffic lane instead of having to pull in and out of traffic at bus stops when picking up and dropping off passengers.

By not having to wait to merge with traffic, especially during the arterial road’s congested periods, this reduces valuable travel time.

This segment of West 4th Avenue is served by a handful of major bus routes, including Route 4 Powell/Downtown/UBC, Route 7 Nanaimo Station/Dunbar, Route 44 UBC/Downtown, and Route 84 UBC/VCC-Clark Station.

It is also noted that since the bus bulbs were installed, up to 35% more passengers are using these stops as a result of ongoing ridership recovery.

Bus bulbs have been installed at a number of locations elsewhere across the region to improve travel times and reliability, including select bus stops on Robson Street within the West End in downtown Vancouver.

Robson Street “bus bulb” curbside extension for the westbound bus stop near Burrard Street. (Kenneth Chan/Daily Hive)

Another simple, yet effective, measure rolled out by TransLink to improve bus reliability and travel times is the practice of “bus stop balancing,” where select bus stops on routes are  strategically removed for reasons mainly of very close spacing with other bus stops.

Over the past three years, bus stop balancing has been completed on Route 2 Macdonald/Downtown, Route 4 UBC/Powell, Route 7 Dunbar/Nanaimo, Route 17 Oak/Downtown, and Route 25 Brentwood Station/UBC.

Measures such as bus bulbs and bus stop balancing also serve to reduce operating costs for TransLink.

According to the public transit authority, in pre-pandemic 2019, the entire 7.4-km-long West 41st Avenue corridor saw up to 24 buses per hour and experienced 303 person hours of delay.

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