A bus taking a rest at UBC Loop after a run as a 99 B-Line
|Operator||Coast Mountain Bus Company|
|Began service||September 1996|
|Daily ridership||54,350 (avg. weekday)|
The 99 B-Line is a bus rapid transit line in Metro Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. It travels along Broadway, a major east-west thoroughfare, and connects the University of British Columbia (UBC) to Commercial–Broadway Station on the SkyTrain system. It is operated by Coast Mountain Bus Company and funded by TransLink.
It is the first and the most popular of the B-Line routes in the regional system. The other B-Lines that followed are based on the 99 B-Line in terms of the use of articulated buses (which can carry 120 passengers) and frequent arrivals for buses. The waiting time for a bus during peak hours on a weekday is 1.5–3 minutes. Most of the buses on this route are built by New Flyer Industries of Winnipeg, Manitoba. On average it takes 42 minutes to complete the entire route, half an hour near the last runs at the end of the night.
As of 2010, the route was the busiest bus route in Canada and the United States, with a 2011 average weekday ridership of 54,350 passengers. This number is up from approximately 45,000 passengers per day in 2007.
The 99 B-Line was created originally to connect UBC to Lougheed Mall in Burnaby via 10th Avenue, Broadway and Lougheed Highway. Then under the jurisdiction of BC Transit, it was launched in September 1996 and started out using a few high-floor articulated buses and regular-sized buses, but it was soon apparent that the regular buses could not handle the demand as this route soon became the most popular route in the system. 60-foot low-floor articulated buses were soon introduced in the summer of 1998, dedicated to this route and with a distinctive B-Line paint scheme. During rush hours, the B-Line uses curb lanes designated as bus lanes on Broadway from Commercial–Broadway Station to Arbutus Street.
To get a sense of what a success this route was, an estimated total of 12,000 passengers per day used the route daily during its first two years of operation, 30% higher than originally estimated. Of that number, 20% of the passengers used to drive to their destination rather than take public transit. Service had to be extended to late-nights, Sundays and holidays.
Services levels were initially 10-minute headway between UBC and Broadway Station, 10-20 minute headway between UBC and Brentwood Mall, and 30 minute headway between UBC and Lougheed Mall. Increased demand saw a corresponding increase in frequency, but only in the UBC to Broadway Station section, with 7.5 minute headway. Soon the Lougheed Mall section was improved to 15 minute headway. Today the 99 B-Line operates on a 2 minute headway in the AM peak direction, with a 4.5 minute day base headway.
In the late 1990s, the British Columbia government approved a new SkyTrain line to be built, called the Millennium Line. This new line replaced the eastern portion of the 99 B-Line, from Broadway Station to its old terminus at Lougheed Mall. It opened in 2002, with the 99 B-Line now terminating at Commercial–Broadway Station (combined Broadway Station of the Expo Line and Commercial Drive Station of the Millennium Line).
As the fair bulk of the route's riders are students at UBC, the introduction of the U-Pass in 2003, a discounted bus pass for university students, put even more strain on the route's resources. A peak-hour B-Line route called the #99 Special was introduced in 2004, featuring non-stop service to UBC during the morning rush hours and to Broadway Station during evening rush hours. This route's "non-stop" moniker was revoked in 2005 to supply more stops along the corridor, and was discontinued completely in January 2006 to make way for a new route that is about as fast as the #99 Special, the #84, which operates from UBC to the new VCC–Clark Station. This new route is supposed to take some pressure off the 99 B-Line. Additionally, curb lanes on Broadway have been converted into bus lanes for rush-hour periods.
On June 25, 2007, the 99 B-Line route became the first route in the TransLink system to allow passengers with valid proof of payment to board using any of the three doors at any stop. To facilitate this, the bus driver controls the operation of all three doors at each of the stops. Passengers who are paying cash or validating FareSavers must board through the front door. Fare Enforcement is carried out by Transit Security Officers. Transit Security Officers may board the bus at anytime to conduct a Fare Inspection. Passengers without valid fare could be removed from the bus or fined.
With the new Canada Line, it is likely that the Millennium Line will be extended to meet the Canada Line's Broadway – City Hall Station at the intersection of Cambie Street and Broadway. If this happens, it is probable that the 99 B-Line's eastern terminus will be moved to this new station. There have also been talks about extending the Millennium Line all the way to UBC in the future, effectively replacing the 99 B-Line.
99 B-Line stops and transfer points
- UBC Loop - The western terminus of the line serving UBC's campus centre.
- Allison - Formerly known as UBC Wesbrook. It is the eastern-most stop in the University Endowment Lands before entering the city of Vancouver. Serves the University Marketplace  shopping area as well as the residents around it.
- Sasamat - Serves the West Point Grey neighbourhood. Is the western-most stop in Vancouver before entering the University Endowment Lands.
- Alma/W 10th - Connects to trolley bus routes to the Dunbar corridor. Also a short walk from Jericho Beach.
- Macdonald - Transfer point to the #22 bus, which travels into downtown Vancouver via Macdonald, Cornwall and Burrard Streets. This route is also used for those going to Vanier Park, the Vancouver Museum, the H. R. MacMillan Space Centre and Saint Paul's Hospital.
- Maple/Arbutus - This stop was added on December 14, 2009. Serves the Kitsilano neighbourhood and provides connections to the #16 Arbutus bus.
- Granville - Connects to the #10 bus, which runs down Granville and into downtown. Other connections are the #14 UBC/Hastings, #16 Arbutus/29th Avenue Station, and the N9/N10 Night Bus routes.
- Heather/Willow - Serves Vancouver General Hospital and the southern False Creek area. Also a transfer point to route #50 False Creek South and #17 Oak.
- Cambie - Transfer point to the Canada Line (Broadway – City Hall Station) to downtown, Richmond and Vancouver International Airport. The Canada Line also serves as a connection to bus routes to Surrey, White Rock and Delta. Also serving this station is Vancouver City Hall and the #15 bus that runs down Cambie Street to Marine Drive station.
- Main - Transfer point to the #3 bus that operates between Main Street, TELUS World of Science (better known as Science World) and downtown. Also a short distance from Pacific Central Station, which is the terminus for long-distance train routes and Greyhound bus routes, and Chinatown. Transfer point to the #19 bus that operates Stanley Park and Metrotown Station.
- Fraser/St. George - This stop was added on December 14, 2009 and provides connections to the #8 Fraser bus, which was also improved the same day by providing exclusive use of articulated trolleys.
- Clark - Serves Vancouver Community College. Also a short walk from the VCC–Clark SkyTrain station.
- Commercial–Broadway Station - Eastern terminus of the 99 B-Line. Serves the Commercial–Broadway SkyTrain station. Also a transfer point to the #20 bus operating to Commercial Drive and Victoria Drive.
Beyond Commercial-Broadway Station
Prior to the opening of the SkyTrain's Millennium Line, the 99 B-Line serviced these stops in addition to the ones above.
- Boundary - Served the area at the Burnaby/Vancouver border. Was also a transfer point to the #9 bus. It was just prior to this stop that the route leaves Broadway, which turns into Lougheed Highway. Some runs of the current #99 B-Line operate to Boundary when going to and from the Burnaby bus depot.
- Brentwood Mall - Served the Brentwood Town Centre shopping mall and was the first stop in Burnaby (excluding Boundary, because it straddled city limits). Brentwood still is a popular transfer point to North Burnaby bus routes to this day. Replaced by Brentwood Town Centre Station on the SkyTrain.
- Austin - Stopped at Government during peak hours. It was one of the first stops servicing Lougheed Mall and was also close to bus connections to Simon Fraser University.
- Lougheed Mall - Served the Lougheed Town Centre shopping mall and was the eastern terminus of the 99 B-Line. It is still home to many routes going to Coquitlam, Port Coquitlam, Port Moody, Pitt Meadows and Maple Ridge. The stop was replaced by Lougheed Town Centre Station on the SkyTrain.
- "TransLink's UBC Line Rapid Transit Study Shortlist of Alternatives". City of Vancouver. October 5, 2010. Retrieved March 27, 2011.
- http://www.trek.ubc.ca/research/pdf/GreatTreks_98fall.pdf[dead link]