COPE city council candidate Tim Louis said Monday that he wants TransLink to study buying longer buses for the 99 B-Line route to reduce the amount of people passed by at stops.
Louis said such a feasibility study about the heavily used Broadway route between the Commercial-Broadway SkyTrain station and the University of B.C. could examine length of bus stops, fuel costs and whether the buses could ply the hilly approach to Point Grey.
"If those three items could be looked at efficiently, effectively and intently by TransLink it might be a very simple quick fix that would, in the blink of an eye, increase capacity by 50 per cent," Louis said. "I'm very concerned when I'm at a bus stop, buses go by because they're full to overflowing."
The Broadway corridor is among the busiest in the province. A 2010 Steer Davies Gleave study on potential rapid transit expansion to UBC said "with over 100,000 daily bus trips, it is busier than some of the existing rapid transit lines."
A bar graph said ridership was higher than the Canada Line and Millennium Line.
Coast Mountain Bus Company's Feb. 15, 2011 Fleet Pictorial showed 225 articulated vehicles in its fleet, including 99 New Flyer low-floor diesel models, which hold a maximum 120 capacity, of which 55 passengers are seated. Coast Mountain also has 74 New Flyer low-floor trolleys, which hold 115 people.
The double-articulated versions would have a third section and are in use in Gothenburg, Sweden and Zurich, Switzerland. The extended buses are 18 metres-four metres longer than regular buses-but the length does not necessarily mean a major increase in capacity. Specifications for the Belgium-built Van Hool AGG300 say it can hold 125 passengers, including 64 who are seated.
On June 25, 2007, TransLink declared all transit vehicles as "fare paid zones" and permitted all-door boarding on the 99 B-Line. Back doors are not regularly monitored, leaving them prone to fare evaders. Would Louis push for back-door fare collectors on the so-called accordion buses?
"That may be one solution, another solution, perhaps a better solution, is pre-paid boarding, the ability of passengers to pay before they even board," Louis said.
Louis also proposed making the B-Line fare-free during off-peak hours.
"It would mean that the driver wouldn't need to be concerned about people coming in the back and not paying," Louis said.
Louis's proposals did not come with cost estimates attached, but he said savings could come through efficiency by installing an automated traffic light system similar to the one employed on Granville Street's 98 B-Line before the Canada Line. A $6.2 million package of so-called intelligent transportation systems-which included traffic signal priority-led to $2.9 million in annual operational savings. Of the 68 signalized intersections on the route, 58 gave buses priority when their transponders triggered extended green lights or abbreviated red lights.
"The capital cost is a mere fraction of the much more expensive alternative, which is underground SkyTrain.
Louis, a former councillor from 1999 to 2005, is running for city council on the COPE ticket with incumbent Ellen Woodsworth and newcomer R.J. Aquino. If elected, he said, COPE councillors would campaign for TransLink to hold democratic elections for its board.
The left-wing party is not fielding a mayoral candidate because of its alliance deal with the governing Vision Vancouver.