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98 B-Line

The 98 B-Line is a bus rapid transit line in Greater Vancouver, Canada. It connects Richmond, British Columbia to downtown Vancouver, with a connection to Vancouver International Airport. It travels mainly along Granville Street in Vancouver and No. 3 Road in Richmond. It is operated by Coast Mountain Bus Company and funded by TransLink. The route is 16 kilometres (10 miles) long. The line carries over 18,000 passengers daily (, PDF file).

It was an experiment in rapid transit using global positioning system (GPS) technology, automated stop announcements, specialized bus stop displays that show the amount of time until the next bus arrives, and special traffic light signals that sustain green lights long enough for buses to pass through. All these were developed by Siemens. In 2007, the bus stop displays were admitted by Translink to be frequently broken or inaccurate and shutting them down was raised as a possibility, but as of May 2008, they continue to be active. The GPS system which sustains green lights continues to be operational.()

The 98 B-Line has nine stops in Richmond (including the transfer point to the airport) and fourteen stops in Vancouver (including seven stops downtown). Waiting times are approximately five to seven minutes per bus during peak hours and ten minutes per bus during mid-afternoons. In the evening and at night, the waiting time is around fifteen minutes per bus, and in the early morning the waiting time is around 20 to 30 minutes. Total travel time from end to end on the route is approximately 42 minutes, but can increase to one hour during peak hours due to traffic.

In Richmond, the 98 B-Line followed a dedicated bus lane separated from mainstream traffic on No. 3 Road, between the Lansdowne and Sea Island Way stops. Currently, that lane is closed for construction of the Canada Line (which will eventually replace the route within Richmond) and the buses travel with regular traffic.

The route was modelled after the successful 99 B-Line, which operates between UBC and the Broadway and Commercial Drive SkyTrain stations. Like its older counterpart, larger articulated buses are normally used for this route, each with a 120-passenger capacity. Those buses are built by New Flyer Industries of Winnipeg, Manitoba.

History

Prior to the introduction of the 98 B-Line, most bus routes in Richmond traveled into downtown Vancouver during rush hours. These routes stop at all stops along their routes in Richmond, then would operate along Granville Street in Vancouver as express services.

Although the idea of a rapid bus line from Richmond to Vancouver had been discussed for decades, it was first proposed by BC Transit in 1994. In 1995, Vancouver city council approved a southbound high-occupancy vehicle lane for the evening peak hours in the Marpole neighbourhood in preparation for an express bus service. In 1997, the idea of a rapid transit line was re-introduced with the objective of providing the express service at regular fares. A study was done and it was determined that the best route for the line would be through Granville Street in Vancouver

The project cost about $52 million CAD to build -- this includes the price of new vehicles, the construction of a dedicated bus lane in Richmond, installing new bus shelters, automated on-board announcements and similar technology, transit priority systems for traffic lights and a share of the new Richmond bus depot (as the old Vancouver Oakridge depot could not accommodate the longer articulated buses used on the route ). The line was officially opened in August 2001.

With the introduction of the B-Line, almost all other local bus services traveling between Richmond and Vancouver were eliminated, resulting in most commuters having to transfer from a local service to the B-Line. As a result of the added transfer and quicker travel times of the B-Line that did not materialize, commute times for passengers increased even though a commute time savings of several minutes had been promised. Within a few years, rush hours routes were created which effectively restored direct rush hour service from most urban areas of Richmond to Vancouver.

The B-line is currently one of the most used routes in the TransLink system. Around 2002 to 2003, plans to replace the 98 B-Line with a light rail line were being brought up. This new line's working name was the "RAV Line" (with RAV standing for Richmond-Airport-Vancouver). It generated much controversy, mainly due to its estimated cost of $1.72 billion CAD. The project was also threatened by political interference from Richmond city council, which had insisted that the line being operated in the city at grade principally because they favored the aesthetic attributes of an at grade line over an above grade line; faced with the majority of public favoring an above grade line and the consideration that an at grade line would increase operating costs and significantly increase trip times, Richmond council backed down. The project was voted down by the TransLink board twice because of political infighting because the board members representing the northeast areas of Greater Vancouver wanted a line built to Coquitlam. The "RAV Line" project was saved after the board agreed to build both lines by 2010. While not part of the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, the current plan is to have it completed by 2009. This new Canada Line will eventually replace the 98 B-Line once it begins operation in late 2009.

On February 13th, 2006, the 98 B-Line's bus lane in Richmond was closed as utility crews prepare for the construction of the Canada Line along No. 3 Road. The 98 B-Line now travels with regular traffic. Before, the route had its own dedicated busway that ran down the centre of the road, separated from regular traffic by a grass median.

As February 2008, 98 B-Line route passengers with valid proof of payment may board using any of the three doors at any stop. To facilitate this, the bus driver controls the operation of all three doors at each of the stops. Passengers who are paying cash or validating FareSavers must board through the front door.

98 B-Line stops and transfer points

Downtown Vancouver

Vancouver

  • 5th Avenue - Serves the southern False Creek area as well as Granville Island.
  • Broadway - Transfer point to the 99 B-Line as well as many trolley routes. It is a short distance away from Vancouver General Hospital and is also the transfer point for those going to Kitsilano.
  • King Edward - Transfer point to the #25 bus, which serves the affluent Shaughnessy area, UBC, and North Burnaby. It also stops a short walk away from B.C. Children's Hospital and B.C. Women's Hospital.
  • 41st Avenue - Transfer point to the #41 bus, which serves the Kerrisdale area, particularly the shopping district, and the Oakridge area. That bus is also a popular route to UBC.
  • 49th Avenue - Transfer point to the #49 bus, which operates eastbound to nearby Langara College and terminating at Metrotown, the biggest shopping mall in the province. During peak hours, the route's western terminus is at UBC, instead of Dunbar Loop.
  • 70th Avenue - Serves the Marpole neighbourhood and acts as a transfer point to the #100 bus (which travels along Marine Drive).

Richmond

  • Airport Station - Transfer point to the #424 bus, which is a shuttle to Vancouver International Airport's main terminal. Also serves the Burkeville neighbourhood of Sea Island, and is a transfer point to the #620 bus to the Tsawwassen ferry terminal and the #100 bus, which connects with the SkyTrain in New Westminster via Marine Drive (this route can also be reached via the 70th Avenue stop of the 98 B-Line).
  • Sea Island Way - Serves River Rock Casino, the largest casino in Greater Vancouver.
  • Capstan Way - Serves Yaohan Centre, an Asian mall, and also the Asian shopping district along Capstan Way itself.
  • Aberdeen - Serves the main Golden Village Asian shopping district, including Aberdeen Centre, Parker Place and President Plaza.
  • Alderbridge - Serves the northern part of the Lansdowne Centre shopping mall as well as the Alexandra Road restaurant district.
  • Lansdowne - Serves the southern part of Lansdowne Centre and the Richmond campus of Kwantlen Polytechnic University
  • Westminster Highway - Popular transfer point to the #401 and #407 buses to Steveston along No. 1 Road and Gilbert Road, respectively. Many passengers use those routes to reach Richmond Hospital and the headquarters of WorkSafe B.C. (the workers compensation and safety board).
  • Richmond Centre - The unofficial terminus of the line (due to the fact that the bus's destination signs read "98 RICHMOND CENTRE"). Stops outside of the Richmond Centre shopping mall and is the main transfer point to almost all of the bus routes in Richmond.
  • Brighouse - The southern terminus of the line. Serves the Richmond City Hall and the Brighouse area (particularly the Minoru cultural centre, which is home to the Richmond Public Library, the local skating rink and the local swimming pool.)

Temporary reroutes of the 98 B Line between Richmond Centre and Lansdowne were introduced at the end of 2007 during Canada Line construction. It is anticipated that the service will be withdrawn completely when the Canada Line opens in 2009.

Route notes

  • For early morning and late evening trips, the 98 B-Line provides local non-express service between the Brighouse stop and the Richmond Transit Centre, along No. 3 Road (south of Granville Avenue) and Steveston Highway (until Shell Road). The buses going back to Richmond Transit Centre are signed "98 Steveston and Shell".
  • On Mondays to Fridays, during peak hours, 98 B-Line service between Vancouver and Airport Station is supplemented by the #496 Railway/Burrard Station and #491 One Road/Burrard Station express routes. The #490 Steveston/Burrard Station express route also does this but goes to Highway 99 via Marpole Loop instead of Airport Station.
  • Non-express service is also provided along some of the 98 B-Line's corridors, via the #10 Granville/Hastings (along Granville Street) and #410 Railway/22nd Street Station (between the Aberdeen and Brighouse stops) routes in Vancouver and Richmond, respectively.

See also

External links

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