If you ride the #22 bus, you've probably noticed how unreliable it's been since January 2017. Several times a day, our dear #22 is held up by trains that block Venables Street.
How bad is the impact on the #22 bus route? The City's train presence detector at Venables showed that in the last seven days of July 2018, there were 16 blockages longer than 10 minutes. Three of these blockages were longer than 15 minutes, and the longest blockage was 24 minutes.
The Radar App, which tracks Vancouver buses in real time, shows some dismal examples of how bad things can get on the #22. On October 1, four buses were held up by a train that blocked Venables for over 25 minutes starting shortly after 10 pm. At that time of night, there were only six #22 buses active along its entire route, so two thirds of the buses on the #22 route were sitting at the tracks by the time the train cleared.
From the morning of August 30, here's a display of seven buses delayed by the train: five stuck at the tracks, and two detouring up to Hastings Street.
The problem is likely to get worse before it gets better. CN Rail has plans to twin the Burrard Inlet Rail Line, meaning that there will be even more trains. Eventually, the city will build a grade-separated crossing that the #22 bus will use, and the bus won't have to wait for trains anymore. However, that is many years away.
What can be done sbout it? A few things:
- In many cases, the very long blockages of Venables - i.e. those that last longer than 10 minutes - are actually illegal. We are asking for the public's help in reporting violations of Canada's "five minute rule" for trains that block roads while shunting. See our post about the Tip Line for Trains Blocking the Road for details.
- TransLink should assess what the options are to bring the #22 up to a decent level of service. Public alerting for long bus delays would be an obvious place to start. TransLink could ask Transport Canada to enforce its 5-minute rule. Additional buses on the route - paid for by the railway company - would also be fair. You can contact TransLink to push for this.
- The SRA has voiced its concerns about the plans to twin the rail line. Please consider writing to Transport Canada, Port Metro Vancouver, and the City of Vancouver with your concerns as well.