|Locale||Metro Vancouver, British Columbia|
|Operator||Coast Mountain Bus Company|
|Service type||Bus rapid transit|
|Launched||January 6, 2020|
|Fleet||110 New Flyer XDE60 units|
|Service corridors||King George Boulevard–104 Avenue|
Marine Drive–Main Street
RapidBus is the bus rapid transit and frequent express bus network in Metro Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. The RapidBus service forms as part of TransLink's Fast and Frequent Transit Network of bus and rail service across Metro Vancouver and provides connections across the Lower Mainland.
The network currently services 10 communities across five routes running on key corridors. RapidBus was launched on January 6, 2020, which introduced two new routes and two rebranded routes to replace portions of the former B-Line network.
- 1 Overview
- 2 Features
- 3 Fares
- 4 History
- 5 B-Line Network
- 6 Fleet
- 7 Future extensions
- 8 References
RapidBus is a network of frequent bus routes with limited stops distinguished by its green branding on buses and stops. Buses that run on RapidBus routes are painted in a special green livery and stops are fitted with next bus information, which is available both visually and audibly.
Service on all RapidBus routes run every 15 minutes or better all day, increasing to every 10 minutes or better during peak hours. Daily service runs from 6 a.m. to midnight or better.
The five routes currently in operation are:
|Route||Launch date||Termini||Service area||Average frequency (mins)||Number of stops||Average trip time (mins)|
|January 6, 2020||Guildford Exchange||Newton Exchange||Surrey||9 (peak)
|April 6, 2020||Park Royal||Phibbs Exchange||North Vancouver
|January 6, 2020||Coquitlam Central Station||Haney Place||Coquitlam
|Joyce–Collingwood Station||UBC Exchange||Vancouver
University Endowment Lands
|Burrard Station||SFU Exchange||Vancouver
All five RapidBus routes have various forms of transit priority measures along portions of their route such as bus lanes or queue-jump signals. These are in addition to additional RapidBus amenities at all stops, which include:
- All-door boarding
- Shelters and benches
- Tactile pads (select stops)
- Real-time information
- Route diagrams
- Air conditioning
- Seats with 20% more padding
- On-board wayfinding and route diagrams
- Additional destination sign on the rear passenger side
- Special livery and branding
Main article: TransLink fares
Fares on RapidBus services are the same as other buses in the TransLink service area. There are no premium fares for this service. Payments can be made on board using a Compass Card or contactless credit card. Exact coin fare cash payment is accepted as well.
Riders paying with Compass Cards or contactless credit cards can board from any door. Those who already paid their fares may board from any door as well. This includes those who paid by cash and were issued a bus transfer. Compass Card readers are available at all doors and riders must validate their Compass Card or contactless credit cards upon entry.
The RapidBus program was formally announced on July 23, 2019, as an improved and expanded B-Line service. Before the RapidBus brand was announced, the proposed new RapidBus routes – specifically what is now the R3 Lougheed Hwy and R4 41st Ave – were simply branded as B-Line in consultation and proposal documents.
Elements to the RapidBus service, when announced, were that routes had to have frequent service and limited stops. This would be in addition to various other features and amenities. The proposed features and amenities include:
- Shelters and benches at stops and tactile pads (where applicable)
- Real-time information
- Information panels at stops
- On-board line diagrams
- Transit priority measures on streets
- Custom exterior bus livery
- Updated seating
Long term vision for branding and features include:
- Custom shelters and stations
- Dynamic onboard wayfinding
The first of 110 New Flyer XDE60 buses arrived and entered service starting in early 2019, ahead of the launch of the RapidBus network and announcement of the RapidBus brand. This was because some units were to replace ageing New Flyer D60LF buses. To keep the RapidBus branding a secret from the public, most units were covered with full-wrap advertisements while 30 units in the 2018 order were wrapped with artwork as part of the How Far Do You Travel? public art program partnership between TransLink and the Contemporary Art Gallery.
RapidBus was initially planned to launch in fall 2019 – likely in September to coincide with quarterly service changes. However, due to delays in construction and availability of construction contractors throughout 2019, the launch was delayed by a few months to January 6, 2020. In September 2019, TransLink announced that the R2 Marine Drive launch date would be pushed back 1–3 months after the Janurary 2020 launch due to construction delays. The R2 launched in April 2020.
Originally, there was supposed to be six RapidBus routes as part of the first phase. A Fraser Highway RapidBus was to run from Surrey Central Station to Langley Centre. However, in December 2018, the Mayors' Council voted to cancel it and reinvested resources and funding to improve the 503 service instead after plans for light rail along Fraser Highway was scrapped in favor of a SkyTrain extension. The changes in plans for constructing SkyTrain along Fraser Highway meant that RapidBus installations and resources along the corridor would be a short-term fixture and therefore did not make financial sense, as opposed to improving the current services along Fraser Highway.
Changes to the transit network
The introduction of the RapidBus network resulted in some extensive changes to the transit network and services along the corridors that RapidBus routes serve. However, some routes – specifically the R1 and R5 – saw few changes as they were replacing former B-Line routes. The R3 also saw no changes as it serves a significant portion of Lougheed Highway that previously did not have transit service.
|Former services||RapidBus route||Notes and other changes|
|96 B-Line||R1 King George Blvd||
|239 Capilano University/Park Royal||R2 Marine Dr|
|R3 Lougheed Hwy||
|41 Joyce Station/UBC
43 Joyce Station/UBC
|R4 41st Ave||
|95 B-Line||R5 Hastings St||
The RapidBus network is part of Phase One of the Mayors' Council 10-Year Vision. As part of that vision, TransLink was to launch four new B-Line routes across Metro Vancouver in 2019. This vision was developed in 2014 and envisioned 12 new or upgraded B-Line corridors, which would add up to approximately 200 kilometres of fast, frequent and reliable bus service connecting regional centres.
Phase One envisioned five new B-Line routes along the following corridors:
- Hastings Street
- 41st Avenue
- Fraser Highway
- Lougheed Highway
The first new route as part of this vision, the 95 B-Line, was launched in December 2016. The remaining four had a target launch date of fall 2019.
Phase Two would be a B-Line to Richmond–Brighouse Station and one along Scott Road in 2021.
Even when it was first proposed, TransLink aimed to have a buses and stops be different and identifiable with a unique look and have real-time bus information at stops. This was in addition to transit priority along the corridors the routes would run on such as changes to traffic signals and bus lanes.
Throughout 2018, TransLink held various open houses and consultations to get the public's feedback on the introduction of B-Line service on the Hastings, 41st, Lougheed Highway, Fraser Highway, and Marine–Main corridors.
R2 Marine Drive controversy
"I am solely against the B-Line extending to Dundarave because that’s where I grew up. It’s my hometown. I’m Huck Finn of Dundarave. It’s beautiful, and with all these buses and everything it’ll be ruined.”
– West Vancouver resident
During the consultation period, all RapidBus routes (or B-Line routes as they were known) received very high support, both in terms of routing and proposed transit priority measures. Communities and areas to be serviced by RapidBus welcomed the proposed services. However, the R2 Marine Drive RapidBus – or the Marine–Main B-Line as it was known during the planning stage – received the most controversy and media spotlight due to various opposition by residents and business owners in West Vancouver as early as December 2018.
The original routing of the R2 was to stretch from Phibbs Exchange in North Vancouver to Dundarave in West Vancouver via Lonsdale Quay and Park Royal.
West Vancouver in 2018 had the fastest growth in bus ridership on the North Shore, with an increase of 10 percent in daily boardings between 2017 and 2018. The Marine Drive corridor in West Vancouver between Park Royal and Dundarave was already a busy transit corridor in 2018 with more than 8,000 bus riders per weekday – excluding riders passing through the corridor to/from Horseshoe Bay.
Despite this, some West Vancouver residents were against the idea of having expanded transit service along Marine Drive due to the loss of two lanes of vehicle traffic to bus lanes.
Nigel Malkin, a small business owner in the Ambleside area of West Vancouver, organized protests in West Vancouver against the bus lanes. "I'm not against buses, I'm not against TransLink, I'm not even against the B-Line," he said to Global News in December 2018. He and other businesses feared that the introduction of bus lanes would be harmful to businesses in Ambleside and Dundarave due to the loss of parking space. However, of the 766 combined parking spaces in both Ambleside and Dundarave, only 15 would have been lost to bus lanes.
Several protests were organized against the bus lanes and the proposed bus service by a vocal citizens' group. Malkin believed that the Park Royal–Dundarave stretch had no ridership despite being the busiest transit corridor in West Vancouver and feared Marine Drive would turn into a "horse-and-buggy track." He also believed that the only reason there would be a B-Line service to Dundarave was only for somewhere the bus could turn around and drivers to take a bathroom break:
"I'm not saying no to transit. I'm saying no to them taking away two lanes of traffic and parking spaces to make way for a B-Line to a bathroom."
– Nigel Malkin, organizer of Stop the Road Closures
In March 2019, West Vancouver held a district council meeting to decide on the fate of the Park Royal and Dundarave portion of what would have become the R2. It was proposed by then that the bus service could terminate at Park Royal instead of Dundarave. It was during this highly publicized and "heated" meeting that many West Vancouver residents spoke on their thoughts of the controversial bus service. One resident stated that the introduction of a B-Line service would "ruin the fabric and the culture of our community."
A citizen speaker also opposed the idea of articulated buses running in West Vancouver, despite articulated buses already running along the same corridor for decades on the 257 Express. Another was afraid that articulated buses would depreciate home values, stating that articulated buses and the "B-Line debacle has ramifications not only for the safety and well-being of our families, but also our homes' equities." This would not be the only complaint that night regarding articulated buses as one citizen claimed that the hybrid articulated buses would create more pollution, while another resident, who claimed to be the "Huck Finn of Dundarave," said buses would ruin Dundarave despite Dundarave already being a major bus terminus in West Vancouver for several decades.
A little over a week after this meeting, West Vancouver council decided not to proceed with the B-Line to Dundarave and instead have it terminate at Park Royal, which remains to be the R2's current western terminus. However, the idea of RapidBus service to Dundarave has not been completely abandoned as West Vancouver will look at alternative options for extending the R2 to Dundarave some time in the future.
Ultimately, express bus service was introduced along the West Vancouver portion of Marine Drive with a restructure of the 257 Horseshoe Bay/Vancouver service in March 2019. The stopping procedures were revised to allow for pick-up and drop-off at all 257 stops along the route, ultimately creating an ad-hoc express service between Marine Drive & 14th Street and Park Royal.
Prior to the formation of the RapidBus network, TransLink's rapid and express bus service was called B-Line. Originally, the B-Line was limited to the Broadway–Lougheed corridor, connecting the University of British Columbia and Lougheed Mall as the 99 B-Line. The "B" in B-Line stands for Broadway. The B-Line branding was later expanded to other corridors in the early 2000s and again in the mid-2010s.
The original B-Line – and the only remaining B-Line – is the 99 B-Line. It is a frequent bus service with limited stops and a major arterial route that travels along Broadway and 10th Avenue in Vancouver, connecting the University of British Columbia and Commercial–Broadway Station. It is the busiest route in the system – and the busiest bus route in both Canada and the United States. Peak hour frequency runs approximately every 3 minutes. A portion of the route will be replaced with SkyTrain service by extending the Millennium Line to Arbutus Street. The route was introduced in September 1996 and went to Lougheed Mall in Burnaby via Broadway Station and Brentwood Mall along Broadway and Lougheed Highway.
Following the introduction of additional B-Line routes in the early 2000s, they were indicated in green on maps and with a B-Line logo on bus stops. It was at this time that the 99's branding with the bee mascot was dropped. B-Line routes were later changed from green to orange in around 2013 on all maps and wayfinding. It was also during this change that the B-Line logo was dropped in favour of a simplified and uniform icon to match other transit services such as SkyTrain.
However, the B-Line logo was gradually phased out as a branding on buses after the order of the 2007 New Flyer D60LFR buses. B-Line branding was specified for most articulated bus orders up until the order of the 2015 New Flyer XDE60 buses, but the decals were not applied.
Former B-Line Services
The B-Line service expanded to other major corridors across the region, with the introduction of the 98 B-Line in September 2000 and the 97 B-Line in September 2002. Two more routes were added in the 2010s with the 95 B-Line and 96 B-Line. The routes had bus rapid transit elements and ran frequent service for most of the day, seven days a week. All B-Line routes as of January 1, 2018, featured all-door boarding at all stops.
The expanded B-Line network was dissolved by early 2020 after routes were replaced with SkyTrain and RapidBus services, leaving the 99 as the sole surviving B-Line route.
The following is a list of former B-Line routes:
- 95 B-Line: Connected Simon Fraser University in Burnaby with Burrard Station in Downtown Vancouver along Hastings Street. Service introduced in December 2016 replaced in January 2020 with the R5 Hastings St
- 96 B-Line: Connected Guildford Exchange and Newton Exchange with the Expo Line at Surrey Central Station and King George Station. Service was introduced in September 2013 and replaced in January 2020 with the R1 King George Blvd.
- 97 B-Line: Connected Lougheed Station and Coquitlam Station. Service was introduced in September 2002 and replaced in December 2016 with the Evergreen Extension and following re-organization of bus routes within the tri-cities area.
- 98 B-Line: Connected Burrard Station and Richmond Centre via Airport Station. Service introduced in September 2000 and replaced in September 2009 with the Canada Line.
Comparisons to RapidBus
Unlike RapidBus, the B-Line did not usually run with dedicated buses. For instance, the 95 ran any articulated buses available, and the same goes for the 99 which still runs today. However, B-Line-branded buses would show up on those two routes. But the number of buses with B-Line branding decreased over time as TransLink stopped ordering buses with B-Line branding after 2007 and due to the retirement of ageing buses.
The 97 B-Line on the other hand, barely ran with buses in B-Line branding or articulated buses at all as most trips ran with regular 40-foot buses that were interlined with other local services. Articulated buses on the 97 B-Line were limited to weekends and during peak hours.
However, the 98 B-Line ran with B-Line-branded articulated buses most of the time as the units set aside for the 98 had amenities and features unique to the 98 B-Line service (see the 98 B-Line page for more details on the history of this service).
For all B-Line routes – and current RapidBus routes as well – operational requirements meant that not all routes could be serviced by buses with B-Line branding.
Wayfinding for B-Line routes was also limited, in terms of unique branding and identifiers. Although bus stops serviced by the B-Line routes were identified with a B-Line logo and route number/destination, there was a lack of consistent wayfinding between services such as SkyTrain stations. However, this was later fixed and addressed in the early 2010s with B-Line routes indicated in orange on bus stop signs and on wayfinding, both maps and signages at SkyTrain stations.
While a feature that is unique to RapidBus is the use of real-time information at all stops for next bus departures and alerts, B-Line routes did not have this feature (except for the 98 B-Line). Another feature that was lacking for B-Line was the use of transit priority measures, such as bus lanes and transit priority signals. However, some routes along certain corridors did have transit priority in the form of bus lanes or HOV lanes but this was inconsistent across the B-Line network.
Main article: 98 B-Line
Of all the B-Line routes that have existed, the 98 remains to be the only one to have had extensive transit priority measures and extensive use of custom B-Line branding. It also remains to be the only B-Line route to have had unique passenger amenities, comparable to the current RapidBus amenities.
Distinctive features of the 98 B-Line were its bus stop shelters, which were large and brightly lit with a next bus departure LED board. The departure boards provided information on the predicted arrival times of the next two 98 B-Line buses, as well as delays. They were designed to a higher standard with brand identity and tactile edges.
Each bus on the 98 B-Line – specifically ones that were originally assigned to the route – were all low-floor New Flyer D60LF units with audible and digital onboard next stop annunciation, which was a first in the fleet. All seats were padded cloth and buses were painted in the B-Line livery. Each bus was also fitted with GPS-based technology to provide real-time tracking with dispatch and was also fitted with GPS modules that communicated with traffic lights to allow for priority by shortening red lights or extending green lights.
Its most well-known feature was the No. 3 Road Busway, which was and remains to be the only protected bus priority lane ever constructed along an arterial roadway in the Lower Mainland, allowing for buses to run in a protected environment through 2.5 kilometres of Richmond Centre with signal priority through intersections. Stations were located along the Busway and the entire length of it was landscaped. The Busway closed on February 6, 2006, due to the construction of the Canada Line.
The RapidBus network uses a dedicated fleet of 110 New Flyer XDE60 buses. However, operational requirements such as fleet shortages, inclement weather requiring the use of 40-foot conventional buses and additional unscheduled trips during special events result in a variety of other conventional buses appearing on RapidBus routes from time to time. Other operational requirements may also see these buses deployed across the network on non-RapidBus routes.
There are currently two RapidBus routes under planning as part of the next phase of expanding the RapidBus network. There are also five additional RapidBus routes proposed for a further expansion of the RapidBus network as part of Phase 3 of the Mayors' Council 10-Year Vision, but these routes are not funded.
The two new RapidBus routes, the R6 and R7, were proposed to be launched in 2021. However, due to financial challenges and record-level drops in transit ridership due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the launch of these two routes has been delayed to 2023.
R6 Scott Road
The Scott Road corridor is one of the busiest in the South of Fraser region and the main bus on that corridor, the 319 Scott Road Station/Newton Exchange, was the 7th busiest bus route in Metro Vancouver in 2019. When the R6 is introduced, the 319 will remain to provide local service coverage along the corridor. It is anticipated that the R6 Scott Road will launch in late 2023.
13 potential stops have been identified. They are:
- Scott Road Station
- 103A Avenue
- 96 Avenue
- 92 Avenue
- 88 Avenue
- 84 Avenue
- 80 Avenue
- 75A Avenue
- 72 Avenue
- 124 Street
- 128 Street
- 132 Street
- Newton Exchange
However, the R6 will not be stopping inside Scottsdale Exchange to maintain reliable, more direct and faster service as all buses that service Scottsdale Exchange will share a stop with the R6 at Scott Road & 72 Avenue or at other R6 stops. Having the R6 not stop inside Scottsdale Exchange also provides more convenient access to other destinations in the area such as the Guru Nanak Gurdwara, Scottsdale Centre and Strawberry Hill.
The R6 will introduce bus lanes along significant portions of Scott Road by repurposing an existing lane or slimming existing lanes as travel lanes on Scott Road are wider than the standard width.
On Scott Road near 72 Avenue, a centre-running bus lane will be built to allow the R6 to make the left turn from Scott Road to 72 Avenue efficiently. A centre island stop will be used in the southbound direction to provide a large, comfortable and safe waiting area for passengers. This is the first use of a centre-running bus lane and stop configuration in Metro Vancouver since the No. 3 Road Busway for the 98 B-Line from 2001–2006.
R7 Richmond–Brighouse Station to Expo Line
The R7 will run from Richmond–Brighouse Station to a to-be-determined Expo Line station. The routing and details have yet to be announced. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the planning and consultation have been both shelved and delayed and planning resumed in late-2021. Service is planned to be launched in late 2023.
Other future expansions
Additional RapidBus routes have been proposed as part of the unfunded Phase Three of the Mayors' Council 10-Year Vision. There was no timeline or details other than potential destinations and corridors until the release of the Transport 2050: 10 Year Priorities plan in April 2022.
In the April 2022 update, 11 RapidBus lines were announced with various general timelines. These new RapidBus lines would be a stepping stone for future Bus Rapid Transit. The 11 lines and timelines are as follows:
- Langley–Haney Place via 200 Street
- Lynn Valley–Downtown/Lonsdale
- Marine Drive–22nd Street Station
- Newton–White Rock (R1 extension)
- R7 Richmond–Expo Line
- Ambleside–Downtown via Lions Gate
- Carvolth–Scott Road via 96 Avenue
- Commercial Drive/Victoria Drive
- Langley–White Rock via 24 Avenue
- New Westminster Station–Brentwood Station via Canada Way
- Newton–Guildford via 152 Street
Langley–Coquitlam via Golden Ears and Willingdon–Second Narrows RapidBus corridors were not listed as part of the Transport 2050: 10 Year Priorities plan. Instead, new corridors were added such as Langley–Haney Place via 200 Street, Marine Drive–22nd Street Station, Ambleside–Downtown via Lions Gate, Carvolth–Scott Road via 96 Avenue, Langley–White Rock via 24 Avenue, New Westminster Station–Brentwood Station via Canada Way, and Newton–Guildford via 152 Street.
The Transport 2050: 10 Year Priorities plan also called for the upgrades of the R3 Lougheed Highway and R5 Hastings Street to Bus Rapid Transit. Further introductions of Bus Rapid Transit service – an upgrade to RapidBus service – includes:
- Changes to the R1 King George Boulevard through a business case of grade separation and technology alternatives
- Langley–Haney Place via Golden Ears (initially a proposed RapidBus corridor)
- Lynn Valley–Downtown/Lonsdale
- Marine Drive Station to 22nd Street Station
- Metrotown to Park Royal
- Richmond Centre–Metrotown
- Upgrade R6 Scott Road
- Mayor's Council Meeting Minutes, December 22, 2018, translink.ca, retrieved 11-18-2020
- B-Line Consultation Report SEPTEMBER 2018 translink.ca, archived on Web Archive, retrieved 23-12-2021
- Opinion: 8 shockingly absurd things said by West Vancouver B-Line protesters last night Daily Hive, retrieved 23-12-2021
- West Vancouver residents rally against B-Line rapid transit plans Global News, retrieved 08-02-2021
- Opponents pan TransLink B-line bus plan for West Vancouver The Vancouver Sun, retrieved 23-12-2021
- West Vancouver council rejects B-line bus route on Marine Drive Global News, retrieved 08-02-2021
- TransLink meets increased demand for sustainable transportation in BC with New Flyer, newflyer.com, retrieved 04-06-2018
- December 14 2017 Open Board Meeting Report (Page 8), translink.ca, retrieved 09-12-2017
- R6 RapidBus Backgrounder translink.ca, retrieved 25-12-2021
- Completing the 10-Year Vision for Metro Vancouver Transit & Transportation translink.ca, retrieved 25-12-2021
- Discussion Guide for Consultation on: 2022 Investment Plan and Transport 2050 10-Year Priorities translink.ca, retrieved 25-04-2022