Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Stats prove Surrey should get rapid-transit before Vancouver

Every quarter the American Public Transportation Association releases ridership statistic on transit agencies in Canada and the US. TransLink reports into APTA.

In 2010, TransLink saw 39% growth in ridership on its SkyTrain and Canada Line network while it saw a modest 2% increase in bus and a 3.7% decrease in trolley bus ridership. Up until the third quarter of 2011, TransLink actually saw a modest 1.26% increase in ridership on the SkyTrain and Canada Line, but a further 0.7% decline in trolley bus usage and a 0.3% decrease in regular bus usage.

While the huge growth in rail-based ridership in 2010 was attributed to the Olympics, it is very interesting that TransLink was able to retain all those transit users. In comparison, the trolley bus system and SeaBus (which saw a 8% decrease through the third quarter of 2011) was not successful in capturing new riders. It looks like people really do prefer trains over buses.

On the topic of trolley buses, it’s interesting to note that since 2008 trolley bus ridership has been on the decline. Since these buses only run in Vancouver, has the city seen a flattening out of transit users or peak transit? By the same metric when the Canada Line came online which services “the suburbs”, there was an explosion of growth in transit usage. There are many in Vancouver that do not see beyond Boundary Road and want transit improvements just for themselves. But if these ridership stats are any indication, TransLink will see a more meaning shift of people to transit if they invest in communities like Surrey. In my mind if there is a debate between Surrey or Vancouver getting rapid-transit first, the clear winner should be Surrey.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

My guess is the decline in trolley bus usage is due to user substitution with the Canada Line and not a specific Vancouver wide decline in transit usage. Not saying Surrey should not get more rapid transit, but these stats do not make that case. By the way from North Delta I would get more use from the Broadway Line than a Surrey extension (perhaps that is wrong, hopefully in the future Surrey will continue to improve as a destination).