Solutions for empty buses on the 15

Yesterday I talked about some of the teething challenges that the new UVic/Downtown express bus, the 15, nee Dogwood Line, was having. Thankfully a lot of these problems have fairly easy fixes:

  1. New-ness – This will only be solved by time and it will.
  2. Advertising – For BC Transit’s part, they could use some of that empty advertising space, both inside and out, to help promote the new line. Metro in Los Angeles has run some pretty good ads and increased choice ridership by a decent amount as a result. Express buses are loved by choice riders. UVic/Camosun and their respective student societies should work to get people on the ground to pamphlet their bus stops and let people know about the new buses, especially with the separated 15 stop at UVic.
  3. Stops – Most of these are fairly easy fixes as well.
  • UVic – As I mentioned, a lot of UVic students are opportunistic riders, so the riders of the 15 will come from the 4, 7, 11 and 14. As can be seen from the image to the right, there is a massive amount of space between the exchange and the SUB. Given there is no space in the exchange for the 15, kicking out another bus to make room would keep the downtown-bound routes together. A logical route would be the 26, which is one of the busier routes, so would benefit from the extra space in front of the SUB, and its route only overlaps with a short section of McKenzie St. with the 39. Moving an existing bus line with established ridership is hard, but is easier than building up a new ridership if nobody knows the bus exists or is hard to easily find.
  • Placement of bus route stops @ UVic
    Placement of bus route stops @ UVic
  • Fort @ Douglas – The City of Victoria is fairly transit friendly and is likely to be amenable to removal of parking spots to expand the bus stop here. As a bonus, the spots are in front of the Municipal Finance Authority building, who don’t have the same concerns as a storefront retail business with regards to parking.

    Potential expansion of Fort @ Douglas stop
    Potential expansion of Fort @ Douglas stop
  • Fort before Richmond – A much harder stop, because the stop is on an island bounded by two roads, so it can’t be easily expanded. One option would be to have the 11 not stop here, as it stops just after Richmond about 100 m away, where the 15 currently does as well. This would keep the 14 and 15 at the same stop.

    Stop on Fort before Richmond, with two double-deckers superimposed
    Stop on Fort before Richmond, with two double-deckers superimposed
  1. Mistaken schedules – I don’t even know if BC Transit is even aware of this issue up ’til now, but this is a fairly easy fix.

As a last note, I think BC Transit should break out its express routes, the new 15, the 28 Express, the 70, etc. and brand them differently, much like Translink did with the B-Lines.This kind of product differentiation is a great way to attract choice riders, people who could drive but choose to take a bus. Of course, it isn’t news that transit agencies are bad at marketing their own products, a fact which hurts their cause immensely.

(Aerial images are from the CRD Natural Areas atlas, with text and highlighting done with the GIMP and Inkscape)