BC Transit is excited to launch the first rapid transit service in Greater Victoria branded Blink RapidBus that will run between the West Shore and Downtown Victoria.
Hello Line 95 - Thank You Route 50
The service will start on April 10, 2023 and as part of this launch, the RapidBus Line 95 West Shore-Downtown is being added and the Route 50 Langford/Downtown is being discontinued. The new Line 95 will provide BC Transit customers an increase in service levels and bus trips per day along the new West Shore-Downtown line.
To summarize: Same route. New number. More service. Fewer stops. More reliability.
Blink RapidBus at Your Service
The increase in service levels along the new West Shore-Downtown line mean that in peak travel times a bus will arrive every 7-8 minutes and outside of those peak times a bus will arrive a minimum of every 15 minutes at any Blink RapidBus stop. The new Line 95 will provide 21 more additional weekday trips than the existing Route 50 – a 12 per cent increase – 11 additional trips on Saturdays – an 8 per cent increase – and 20 additional trips on Sundays – an 18 per cent increase.
The new route 95 will still run earlier than 7am and later than 10pm, but some of the bus arrival times are longer than every 15 minutes during these off-peak hours.
The vision for Blink RapidBus is to deliver transit service that outperforms the personal automobile in speed, comfort and reliability.
Blink is Brand New
One of the biggest hurdles we work to overcome is the perception that taking the bus is slow and inconvenient, so BC Transit’s objective was to develop a new brand identity for this service that would excite, create awareness and combat this perception.
The biggest stand out of this change is the new branding – customers will know they’re at a Blink RapidBus stop if they see the newly branded orange signage. Over time, customers will notice that larger, branded RapidBus stations like the stop at Douglas and Cloverdale in Victoria will be installed along the West Shore-Downtown line.
The new branding is deliberate and although orange isn’t the first colour that comes to mind when you think of BC Transit, it has been part of our network branding for nine years and it currently exists on our transit stops in Victoria.
Pulling Out All (Some) Of The Stops
To improve service reliability, the 95 Blink RapidBus will stop at fewer bus stops than the Route 50 did, which means more time travelling and less time at bus stops, so customers will need to check if their closest stop is a Blink RapidBus stop. The majority of stops that will no longer be served by the Line 95 will continue to serve other routes in the West Shore and Downtown, however, one stop in the West Shore is being discontinued (see map below).
None of the bus stop removals associated with the RapidBus implementation were made lightly and were made based on a combined assessment of passenger boardings, stop spacing and feedback from the Local Government Partners in the West Shore.
Effective January 8th, 2024, and in response to ongoing customer feedback, Route 95 will be updated to include service at the existing bus stops located on Goldstream Avenue and Veterans Memorial Parkway. These stops were previously known as Goldstream at Aldwyn and Goldstream at Granderson.
In determining what stops the 95 Blink RapidBus will serve, BC Transit strived to strike a balance to ensure our customers were still being served at a level that exceeds industry standards, which considers criteria such as:
- Trying to avoid large gaps between bus stops
- Keeping our highest used bus stops
- Keeping some stops where it would have been beneficial to remove them from the 95 line
- Aiming to keep an average of 600 meters between stops, even though standards suggest 800 metres and 1.2 kilometres between stops
Changes To Route 61
As a result of the new Blink RapidBus from Langford to Downtown, some changes were made to the 61 Sooke to improve service frequency and create efficiencies where possible. Overall the Route 61 will have significant all-day service improvements.
The new schedule for the route 61 will provide 20 additional weekday trips – a 36 per cent increase – 18 additional trips on Saturdays – a 47 per cent increase – and 12 additional trips on Sundays – a 40 per cent increase.
These added trips result in the following service frequency improvements for the 61 Sooke:
- Monday to Friday midday service frequency will increase to every 30-45 minutes from every 60 minutes currently
- Monday to Friday evening service frequency will increase to 30-45 minutes (60 minutes after 10pm) from 60 minutes currently
- Saturday service frequency will increase to 30-45 minutes (60 minutes after 10pm) from 60 minutes currently, and;
- Sunday service frequency will increase to 45-60 minutes from 60 minutes currently
Anyone travelling on the 61 in non-peak times will now need to transfer to the RapidBus Line 95 at the Langford Exchange if their destination is Downtown Victoria, so customers with a DayPASS can easily transfer and customers without a DayPASS will need to pay the fare for the transfer.
We understand this is a change and did not take this decision lightly. While we expect it will impact a small number of customers, we apologize for any inconvenience and encourage our customers to utilize the DayPASS.
Where We Came From And Where We're Going
Blink RapidBus builds on recent bus priority lane investments along Douglas Street and the Trans-Canada Highway. When they were implemented, they saved passengers up to 20 minutes of travel time in peak morning and afternoon commute periods. The new West Shore-Downtown line improves the frequency and reliability for our customers, and additional service reliability will be realized as a result of serving fewer stops.
The goal of Blink RapidBus is to connect areas with the highest travel demands in the region using a combination of corridor treatments, branded services, and improved station amenities. This new service will provide connected, frequent, fast, and reliable transit service that will increase ridership and support local governments in meeting their sustainable land use, climate and transportation goals.
Getting There In A Blink
BC Transit is exploring further improvements to infrastructure between Goldstream Avenue and the Trans-Canada Highway in Colwood and View Royal to make Blink RapidBus service even faster, along with planned improvements to Blink RapidBus stations. This investment in more frequent service wasn’t the start and it isn’t the end as we continue to increase service and invest in infrastructure.
Rapid transit takes time to implement, so while this modest step will increase our service levels, frequency and reliability for customers, more infrastructure is needed to make Blink RapidBus even faster. Our goal is to build on what we’ve achieved so far and turn our focus to areas where further improvements can continue to be made so Blink RapidBus will get even better over time.