News / Vancouver

Downtown Vancouver bus route changes contingent on Robson Street plaza

The future of some TransLink bus routes in downtown Vancouver depends on whether the city creates a permanent plaza on the 800 block of Robson Street.

An installation called Porch Parade took over the 800 block of Robson Street in summer 2015 as part of an annual temporary plaza closed to transit and vehicle traffic.

Emily Jackson/Metro

An installation called Porch Parade took over the 800 block of Robson Street in summer 2015 as part of an annual temporary plaza closed to transit and vehicle traffic.

The City of Vancouver and TransLink have decided to tweak four major downtown bus routes after two years of study, but the final path will be contingent on whether council votes to create a permanent pedestrian plaza on Robson Street.

The city’s acting general manager of engineering Jerry Dobrovolny outlined the changes to the 5, 6, C21 and C23 bus routes in a memo to council last week, noting the changes to the 5 route aren’t set in stone until council decides if it wants to permanently close the 800 block of Robson Street to vehicle traffic.

Council got hooked on the idea for a downtown plaza after the 2010 Winter Olympics when people flocked to the temporary plaza outside the Vancouver Art Gallery.

It’s also mulling a permanent plaza in the 600 block of Cambie Street, the proposed future location of the art gallery. A decision on either plaza could come as early as this fall, Dobrovolny said in an email Monday.

As it stands, the block in front of the art gallery is temporarily shut every summer to make room for a seating installation.

While pedestrians and tourists tend to enjoy the closure, it’s an annual headache for West End residents who prefer the direct route to major downtown attractions including the central library.

TransLink would also prefer to keep the street open to transit, according to the memo. Even if Vancouver creates a public plaza, TransLink said it wants the city to consider allowing it to run buses through the closed area.

The bus routes were reviewed due to major population growth in the downtown core and the introduction of the Canada Line. More than 1,600 people participated in public consultation over the changes.  

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