JULY 8, 1997

                             ADMINISTRATIVE REPORT

   Date: June 17, 1997
   Dept. File No. 602124
   CC File No.  5554

   TO:       Standing Committee on Transportation and Traffic

   FROM:     General Manager of Engineering Services

   SUBJECT:  Transit Delay on Robson Street Between Howe and Hornby


        A.   THAT right turns be prohibited from:
             1)   southbound Howe Street to westbound Robson Street;
             2)   northbound Hornby Street to eastbound Robson Street; and
             3)   westbound Robson to northbound Hornby to improve transit

        B.   THAT right turns be controlled by a signal arrow from
             eastbound on Robson Street to southbound on Howe Street to
             improve eastbound transit movements.

        C.   THAT the above traffic control changes be monitored and staff
             report back to Council with further options if the situation
             does not improve.


   Council's transportation policy places the highest priority on
   pedestrians, bicycles and transit.


   This report recommends traffic control changes to improve transit 
   movements on Robson Street between Howe and Hornby Streets.


   In 1977, the Robson Square Court House was constructed in the 800 block
   Robson between Howe and Hornby Streets.  A four-lane "bridge" structure
   with full sidewalks was constructed over Robson Square.  However, the
   surface roadway was narrowed to one traffic lane in each direction and
   was initially restricted to buses and emergency vehicles only.  In 1982,
   in response to West End requests to improve retail continuity, the 800
   block Robson was opened to traffic.  The Mall-type street design
   remained, with one lane of general purpose traffic in each direction.

   On March 25, 1997, the Standing Committee on Transportation and Traffic
   requested a report on ways to reduce transit delays on the 800 block


   This section of Robson is one of the most popular pedestrian corridors
   in the City.  The main cause of transit delays in the 800 block Robson
   is its reduction to a single traffic lane in each direction. Vehicles
   turning right are delayed because of high pedestrian volumes -
   approximately 800 pedestrians per hour on the south sidewalk and 1700
   pedestrians per hour on the north sidewalk. The narrow roadway makes it
   difficult to bypass stopped vehicles which are waiting to make right
   turns onto Howe or Hornby. Traffic backups can quickly fill the 800
   block Robson, resulting in extensive delays to buses and other traffic. 
   Figure 1 shows the existing traffic conditions.

   The following options to improve transit movements were considered:

        1.   Ban right turns from Robson onto Howe and Hornby
        2.   Ban turns onto Robson from Howe and Hornby
        3.   Install right-turn arrows from Robson onto Howe and Hornby
        4.   Widen Robson at each end for right turns
        5.   Widen Robson to four traffic lanes
        6.   Close Robson to vehicular traffic except transit

   This report focuses on the more minor traffic control changes in options
   1, 2 and 3.  Council may wish a more comprehensive review of options 4,
   5 and 6.  However, it may be more appropriate to look at these more
   complex options when the downtown transportation network is reviewed in
   the future.  The recommended measures are shown in Figure 2, and are as

   (a)  Eastbound Traffic and Transit Movements

        At Hornby Street, it is recommended that the northbound right turn
        to Robson be prohibited (option 2).  This will reduce the volume of
        traffic on Robson, and hence the delay for eastbound through
        traffic.  The right turns can be made one block further north at
        Georgia Street, where pedestrian conflicts are less severe.

        At Howe Street, pedestrians crossing in the south crosswalk
        (approximately 800 pedestrians per hour) are held back for ten to
        fifteen seconds after the start of the green for Robson Street. 
        This pedestrian delay period helps clear eastbound right turns from
        Robson to Howe so they do not block the through transit and vehicle
        movements.  It is recommended that a green arrow be installed
        (option 3) to emphasize  the right-turn flow and improve the
        eastbound transit movement.  Banning the right turn from eastbound
        Robson to southbound Howe (option 1) is a further option, but is
        not recommended because the next permitted right turn is three
        blocks east at Richards.  This would be an excessive route
        diversion, but may need to be considered further if delays persist.

   (b)  Westbound Traffic and Transit Movements

        The southbound right turn from Howe to Robson creates three
             1) delays southbound buses on Howe
             2) adds to westbound congestion on Robson
             3) interferes with pedestrians crossing Robson

        It is recommended that this right turn be prohibited (option 2).
        The right turns can be made one block further south at Smithe
        Street, where conflicts are minimal.

        A major cause of westbound delay is that right turns to Hornby are
        held back by high pedestrian volumes (approximately 1700
        pedestrians per hour). It is recommended that this right turn be
        prohibited (option 1).  The right turns can be made one block
        further west at Burrard Street.  Pedestrian conflicts at Burrard
        are also severe, but buses will have the option of using the second
        lane to bypass the queue.

   In summary, a hybrid of options (1), (2) and (3) is recommended at this
   time, with further monitoring.


   All measures recommended for installation in this report can be funded
   in existing operating and capital accounts.


   On the 800 block Robson between Howe and Hornby, eastbound traffic and
   transit service can be improved by prohibiting north-to-east right turns
   from Hornby Street, and by installing an east-to-south right-turn arrow
   to Howe Street.  Southbound and westbound transit service can be
   improved by prohibiting south-to-west right turns from Howe Street and
   the west-to-north right turns from Robson Street.

   These changes will result in improvements to the function of the 800
   block Robson, for pedestrians and transit, with some inconvenience to
   motorists. They will be monitored for effectiveness.

   Further changes can be considered when the downtown street and transit
   networks are reviewed, as a follow-up to the Transportation Plan. 

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