In much of the commentary over the West Van B-line, there’s an oft-repeated assumption, articulated by our very own Thomas:

You obviously do not know many folks in NVan or WVan. Many would never take the bus (or a bike for that matter). That is why there is so much opposition to it.

Embedded in that assumption is this: North Shore residents live primarily in large single-family houses, on steep slopes, that were designed (and still are) car-dependent.  So pervasive is that narrative (and the argument that then follows: no need or desire for transit) that it requires a significant and wilful blindess to ignore all this:

This is Ambleside: one of the first highrise neighbourhoods in the region, approved at the same time as Vancouver rezoned the West End in the mid-50s  It is still one of the densest neighbourhoods in Metro, home to a fifth of West Vancouver’s population – just under 8,000 people, half of whom are over 65.

All these high- and medium-density buildings are within three blocks of Marine Drive, down which the B-line would travel. Most of the terrain is flat or gently sloping.  It’s Walkscore is 94 – and it’s realistically cyclable, ideal for a bikeshare system that could ideally include Park Royal.

And yet many talk about West Vancouver as though none of this really existed – or is inconsequential.  But not to TransLink.  That, to answer the question so many raise, is why it’s a regional priority as part of a cross-North Shore transit route.  With a Transit Score of only 54, Ambleside is missing the service that its urbanism demands.  It’s another West End, folks, and should be thought of as such from a transportation perspective.

Here’s the evaluation that Mike Buda references in his comments in a previous post:

The performance of this B-Line is affected by the following factors:

  • It has one major employment centre anchor and substantial employment and retail along the corridor
  • It would provide some travel time improvements over the existing frequent transit service, but more importantly would significantly reduce overcrowding on transit service in the corridor, which would make transit travel more attractive
  • It has high population density along the route
  • While the built environment along some parts of the route is not very pedestrian friendly, making it more difficult to get to and from transit, it also passes through some highly pedestrian friendly areas.
  • Potential VKT reduction as a result of the potential B-Line is reasonably high.

Here’s my prediction: If West Van council approves the full B-line, critics will be amazed at the ridership (and the failure of Carmaggedon to occur along Marine).

The mythology of West Vancouver in a way requires that highrise Ambleside not exist (as Kerrisdale residents often omit its West End on either side of 41st Avenue from theirs).  But the latent demand will emerge.  West Van residents will use the bus.

And when bikeshare comes to Ambleside (with, yes, electric-assist), they’ll use that too.

 

Comments

  1. I think it is unfair to include the City of North Vancouver in the comment” North Shore residents live primarily in large single-family houses, on steep slopes, that were designed (and still are) car-dependent”. The City of North Vancouver is a major champion of the B-line service and public transit in general. We pride ourselves in our compact complete walkable community and are working hard to expand our dedicated cycling network. The 2016 Census revealed that multi-family housing made up 72% of all City housing. This percentage would no doubt be higher today. Hardly fair to say that we live primarily in large single-family homes.

    1. It’s not unfair to say the majority of North Shore residents live this way. The City is the only adult in the room, but it only represents a quarter of folks north of the inlet.

      1. The only adult?

        3/4 pay taxes too ! Their opinions matter not? Only “density is good – car is bad – we love buses” opinions allowed on the north shore ?

        The north shore, too, like Surrey that rejected LRTs is still a democracy !!

        As such, benefits of density or LRTs or buses have to be better explained. The tax payer is not stupid !!

        1. You’re awfully defensive, Thomas. The fact that you interpret an acknowledgment of a growing population as a personal attack upon your worldview is telling. The taxpayer may not be stupid, but to fight density in principle is childish. One can choose to take offense at that as well, but it does not alter the fact.

          1. Many folks don’t like density. Not everyone embraces it. But they’re pretty happy to get in their car and impose they’re noise, stench and carnage on those who do embrace it in their neighbourhoods.

            They’ll shoot down transit improvements that offer better service to those who choose to live lite or can’t afford a car as if that is a major burden imposed on them. Imagine if all those bus riders would suddenly drive through their quaint little heaven. It would be hell.

          2. That’s why a large metroplex like Greater Vancouver has to accommodate ALL desires, not just those pushing for density. Where are all the new sub-divisions with SF homes, THs or duplexes on the north shore ? or in Vancouver ? or even in land rich Richmond ?

            Plenty of forest north of NVan and WVan .. several THOUSAND sq km .. perhaps a few acres can be sacrificed for more housing ?

          3. They may, but it would destroy the mountain views by turning it into subdivisions and SFHs. There is a height limit on the North Shore, roughly as 1200ft above sea level.

  2. Gord, no disagreement about the lack of transit in West Vancouver, whether Ambleside, Dundarave or those of us to the west on those same steep roads- one of which Translink refuses to use a shuttle bus on one to increase transit use instead of using the Upper Levels, but again a digression. But to get to the 250 bus, I have to take my car and park it at the bottom of my road. And it is a busy bus.
    Is not the issue in West Van vs the West End and Kerrisdale is that both of the latter have more than one east-west main street to access for both transit, pedestrians and cyclists. Both have bus transit as on 49th, 41st, while the West End has Davie, Robson and Georgia Streets. In West Van there is but one main street, Marine Drive and that is the issue-a very congested road at the best of times. I avoid it unless absolutely necessary getting to North Van on the now congested Upper Levels-commuter, ferry and trucks. (We do have an empty leased BC Rail line but no one thinks of that, eh?). So to take away a driving lane in a very congested area begs the question of why when the West End and Kerrisdale -and Broadway-see Councillor Fry’s comment about that and LRT…would not accept, so why West Van then?

    1. While it is true that Marine Drive is congested and the only through-street in Ambleside, I think the reality is that a B-Line would actually make this better – for everyone, including drivers. Buses increase the capacity of a road, and more bus service would mean more people can use that road than before. But it has to be reliable for that to work and that means there needs to be dedicated lanes.

      In fact, it is really only in very congested areas that taking away a driving lane makes sense. If there were no congestion, the bus would not need a dedicated lane to be reliable. Buses having their own lane works both ways, though – it means no buses getting in the way of cars, either. Because of the congestion and because of the density, the bus will be very viable option for all users as long as it’s reliable. Factor all this in, and the new arrangement will not be any worse for drivers and could even be better, but a whole lot better for everyone else.

    2. The reason not many people think about the “empty” rail line is threefold, really.

      1) It’s not actually empty. Not as heavily used as it used to under BC Rail, perhaps. But it still sees regular freight usage.

      2) In a lot of cases it’s not really that conveniently located. The only real locations that are reasonably (and this is me being a bit picky, I admit) close to good traffic links are Park Royal South, the stretch along John Lawson Park, and then the area around Dunderve. Farther west, it snakes its way through really low residential areas. The stop at Park Royal would also require a fair amount of destruction of forest parkland, which may or may not be a good selling point for the idea. Farther east however, accessibility drops through the floor. The old BC Rail station is gone (and never had good transit links to begin with). There’s nowhere you can build a possible station halt near Lonsdale Key, and there’s no place that could have a possible station farther east than that either (you either get rail yard or medium industrial all along the way).

      3) The big killer is actual station space. As alluded to in #2, there’s not a lot of good right of way space to begin with. But a bigger problem is getting the real estate to actually have a station. Assuming you want to make it work with the freight traffic (and I can assure you that as quiet as the BC Rail section seems, once you get in towards Lower Lonsdale it gets a LOT busier), you’re going to want to have a seperate siding for your station, if only to be able to get out of the way of the freight trains. But I digress. Let’s just look at West Vancouver. Even without the siding, you’re wanting to have a section of right of way set up to be used as a station, so you’re wanting a section of rail say 40′-60′ long. And then you’re going to want to build some level of basic infrastructure. Say, a self-serve ticketing kiosk, some seating, figure some “flexible space” (for bike storage or extra seating or a small passenger pickup-dropoff spot), so that’s going to add about 30′-40′ of width to your station (That’s only as long as one of the shipping containers you can see on the roads. So not THAT big). And that’s for something that’s pretty minimalistic AND not actually having a siding for your passenger cars. If you want that, you can easily add another 20′ of width.

      Which brings us to the gripping hand of this “solution”. Who’s houses are you going to expropriate to make this happen? You only have parkland space really next to Park Royal. Anywhere else where there’s density, someone’s home is going to have to take it between the property lines. And their neighbors are going to undoubtedly have to get used to suddenly being right next to a transit node, with all the traffic that brings.

  3. Sylvester, I live on the BC Rail line near Horseshoe Bay; there used to be 7 daily trains a day on the BC Rail line with long freight trains, but also including the daily Budd passenger DMU’s. There is now one return CN freight a day to Squamish, and virtually all in the post midnight hours. So lots of time and capacity for diesel multiple units. In the 1900’s and 1920’s, there was a commuter service from North Van to Horseshoe Bay (Whytecliffe) until buses on Marine Drive took over.

    I agree that once past the Capilano River there is heavy freight traffic. That did not stop the five day a week Royal Hudson tourist train, and did not stop the almost daily Rocky Mountaineer luxury passenger train to the north. DMU’s-diesel powered like the Bombardier Talents etc, could easily be accommodated by even a reluctant CN if the political will was there. Translink is only interested in glory projects and appeasing developers. How does Chicago/New York, Toronto etc deal with the hundreds of combined freight and passenger/commuter trains daily-same way that the CPR and CN did up the Valley in days of steam with many passenger and freight trains. Even easier now with computers and electronic switches.

    Look at Rail for the Valley on the recent SNC-Lavalin/Bombardier issues and costs. Or if LRT was to be used from Horseshoe Bay, then they could use the driving lane on Marine Drive after Park Royal that North Vancouver seems to agree to.
    As far as stations are concerned, they can be as small as those seen in Cornwall or any other similar rural station-a mere bus type shelter and a concrete ramp-don’t think SkyTrain or Canada Line but keeping it simple. The right of way is easily wide enough for both the occasional loop for passing and also for minimalist shelter stops.

    It will not happen of course. Developers and political parties don’t obviously benefit. No one has answered my question of why would West Van eliminate a driving lane when Vancouver does not have the courage to do it on a permanent basis on its main streets-we have only one congested street. And I honestly don’t think it will work but one wonders why forcing West Van to do what won’t be done in the major cities.

    1. Most Ambleside residents live on Esquimalt or Duchess—- Most Westbound buses should run on Fulton or Esquimalt ( it is only 1 k extra) — with Eastbound remain on Marine— Walk DOWN the hill to North Van & C O V buses—– DOWN the hill coming home

    1. Look at a transit map. The 250 is a slow local service and it goes downtown. It doesn’t offer cross-town transit to North Shore. And speaking of fuzz (sic), it fails in all the ways you continually complain about how buses fail.

      The point of the B-Line is to offer *better* transit service and build ridership for eventual higher capacity systems. In this case it also helps unify the North Shore which is important as it connects a broader population with businesses, services and amenities and reduces demand on the bridges. Ultimately, the best way to reduce the high costs and degradation of transportation is to ensure most people don’t have to travel so far to meet their needs.

      1. Sorry .. I meant 257 Express Bus (not 250) from Horseshoe Bay to Downtown via 14th Ave, Ambleside and Park Royal.

        Bus route 239 from Park Royal to N Van not good enough ?

        It is pretty tight with parking, folks weaving left and right and all in Dundarave and Ambleside so no wonder folks complain about parking spots being taken out and merchants impacted.

        But a B Line – ie a faster 239 – from Dunadarave to LonsDale Quay (or even Phibbs Exchange) makes total sense to me. Why all the fuzz ? What’s the KEY stumbling block / objection ? Parking ? As merchants AND car users obviously like them .. how many parking spots are we talking here ? 5 ? 10 ? 55 ? how many left or right turns being removed ?

  4. I laughed out loud when the anti-B-Line spokesman pontificated on TV about the loss of 25 parking stalls and said, “Nobody rides transit in Dundarave,” which is the western terminus for this proposal. Global placed that story at the top of its morning new cast.

    Of course we all can agree that removing 25 parking stalls on Marine Drive will amount to a Crime Against Humanity, especially if they were permanently closed and not just during rush hours. And the 8,000 boardings per day at Dundarave is a typo on the TransLink propaganda page.

    Not!

    Now WV council is hedging on approval. Would it be acceptable if TransLink, a regional transit body, went ahead with the full proposal over the heads of council, or does the tail wag the dog?

    1. 25 parking spots out of 100 say is SIGNIFICANT.

      Taken out parking and/or lanes will impact traffic flow significantly. Merchants will lose business as even more folks drive to Park Royal and will shop less along Dundarave or Ambleside “high street”. Consider a hanging train aka skytran (not sky train) or a subway.

      Disallow left turn unless dedicated tuning lane would also help traffic flow. Traffic flow is intentionally impeded not just in WVan but also from UBC to Granville on SW Marine Drive or most cross street that allow far too much on sreet parking such as Garnville, 76 Ave, 41st, Oak etc ..

      There are already enough buses to Park Royal. It makes sense to have Park Royal (and not Dundarave or Ambleside) as a major transit station, to downtown, up the hill or to NVan !

      1. There is a lot more than 100 parking stalls ( closer to 1000 ???) in Ambleside & Dunderave ( —- — If the B line ended at 21st about 6 stalls on each side would be gone——Two hours FREE parking & there is a shortage !!!!!– The reason is not rocket science, its Economics 101—– The merchants pay market rent & charge market prices for their goods & services.— If half was 30 minutes free & the rest pay parking the re would be no shortage—-Park visitors would park further away

        1. It does not make sense to have transfer penalty at park royal for residents of ambleside & dunderave——-Park Royal merchants also pay property taxes to the the district of W V— Their rent includes customer parking on their landlords property not ROAD allowance

  5. B line 44 goes through the heart of Kits. 4th similar layout to Marine Drive in W Van. No dedicated lanes on 4th either. Just put a B Line in on existing road.

    Stop 1/Start: Dundarave
    Stop 2: Ambleside
    Stop 3: Park Royal
    Stop 4: N Van ( close to Cap road)
    Stop 5: ..,

    Given that 257 Express bus already stops at Ambleside it’s really only ONE additional B line stop, namely in Dundarave which already has dedicated buses … so no big deal but also NOT a major improvement either for Dundarave folks

      1. 44 is for SURE a B-Line just doesn’t go all day .. a peak hour B Line ..

        B as in “stops only every 5-8 normal bus stops” as in like a BEE ..

        Is a united North important as buses do go from Park Royal to N Van ..

        Who goes from Horseshoe bay or even Dundarave to Lonsdale Quay or further east even (or vice versa)? Are there stats ?

        1. A peak hour only”B-Line” that operates as a local bus, making all stops, for 1/3 of its route and has no bus priority measures anywhere.

          Uh-huh.

          Nobody is proposing Horseshoe Bay to Lonsdale Quay so what’s your point?

          One of the best ways to reduce pressure on our transportation system is to encourage economic vitality and diversity within suburban areas so that people can avoid travelling to downtown Vancouver for everything. So yes, it’s important.

          I get you’d rather spend $100 billion to encourage everyone to travel as far as possible at all times.

    1. Buses on Marine drive in both North & West Van run OK most of the time — When there is a problem it is faster to walk — A BUS or even an H O V lane would not be a parking lot– Road use policy should be to move PEOPLE not S O V

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