PART 3 of the extended essay by a guest writer, Peter Marriott, on the question of transit on Robson Street.  Part 1 is here.  Part 2 is here.


Connections and Ridership Goals

This matters because transit in the West End is frequent and productive, but could be a lot better. Without strong and legible connections to the rest of the transit network, transit and walking (and cycling) in the West End will compete with each other to serve trips within the Downtown core, while the automobile will continue to be the mode of choice for longer trips.

The City wants two‑thirds of citywide trips being made by walking, cycling and transit in 2040. The West End is actually already meeting this target for work trips: 40% of residents walk to work, the highest of any neighbourhood in the city. But a closer look shows something a little bit puzzling: in one of Vancouver’s densest and most transit‑friendly neighbourhoods, transit’s mode share is no better than the city average: 24%. The Robson and Davie lines are very productive, but they could be doing a lot more. To reach two‑thirds of trips by sustainable modes citywide, the West End will need to have more than two‑thirds of all trips using these modes.

To gain riders, transit in Vancouver needs to build on its assets (network structure) and address its gaps (slow speeds). Unfortunately, closing Robson Street to transit disrupts the former and exacerbates the latter. Without a good connection to the Canada Line, transit trips between the West End and the Central Broadway corridor—which the City constantly reminds us is a major regional destination—are significantly less fast and less direct with Robson Street closed.

Transit route and infrastructure changes take time and money to plan, fund and program. At a time when Translink is severely strained and under immense pressure to become more efficient, closing Robson Street to transit means that planning efforts and funding will be used to mitigate a City‑created detour rather than to expand transit to build ridership.


TOMORROW: Future Possibilities

* Bold emphases mine.


  1. I’ve been waiting for this post, hoping it would contain some concrete numbers. Does anyone know the ridership numbers for the 5/6?

    I lived in the West End from 2006-2008, long before the Robson Square closures. The 5/6 and C21/23 buses were so slow and infrequent that they were next to useless. It was always faster to bike or walk to where I was going.

    1. Even with Jarrett Walker’s caution about looking at routes individually, these statistics are awesome. Do you have any more of these treasures kicking around?

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