Should Transit Services End Downtown?

Should this 321 bus end downtown?

Should Transit Services End Downtown? This is a question that all transit agencies face; whether to put a transit loop downtown. Lets use simple point form to analyze the differences:


  • A person can stay on the same bus to go through downtown.
  • They are not forced to get on or off at the terminus, creating a huge influx of people at a specific time and location
  • Saves money, increased productivity- less stops means more time on the road
  • Increased ridership may result from the transit services getting people where they need to go.


  • Reliability; The recovery time at the downtown stop is eliminated
  • Different Passenger volumes at different parts of the line may result in uneven or extra services.
  • Drivers have fewer layovers, and have to drive longer per layover.
  • In some places, there may be a pulse, or timed connection.


In Vancouver, all downtown buses at some point, go on Granville Street, Burrard street, or Waterfront station. These are the focal points. The beauty of Vancouver’s system is that none of these buses actually end downtown. (Note: The only buses that end downtown are the 2, 32, and suburban buses, but they serve specific commuters.)  For example, the 14 bus starts in East Vancouver on Hastings, and goes through downtown to UBC. There is no need to switch buses in downtown, to another bus that continues out.
Simple observations show that many people’s destionations are not downtown, but people are forced to travel through downtown to get where they are going on transit.

Richmond has a similar system, as none of the local buses in Richmond terminate in the City center.

In Surrey, the majority of the buses terminate at one of the skytrain stations. A few weeks ago, while taking the 321 northbound, I noticed that about half the passengers got off the bus at King george station. Those were the ones who were to take the skytrain. The other half, remained on the bus until Surrey Central. By observation, I came to the conclusion that 25% of the passesngers who got off at Surrey Central have their destination there. But the other 75% of passengers likely were to transfer to another bus to get to their destination. With many of the people travelling from Surrey going to Surrey, it makes sense to have buses that go to where people want to go in Surrey, and not just to skytrain. It makes sense to combine surrey’s services and form extended routes that take people where they want to go.
The 399 bus will come, but who knows when? For now, connect the 321 and 320 routes, so Newton and Guilford are connected. Buses that start in White rock end at Fleetwood, and buses that start at Newton end in Langley. With a little bit more information about traveling paterns, we can quickly bond other routes together.  Another example would be the 335 and 325, creating a Newton to Fleetwood bus.

Jarrett Walker gave similar ideas when he analyzed Zach Shaner’s redesign of seattle network. What do you think? Should transit services end downtown? Please provide your comments and suggestions.