Friday, June 22, 2012

TransLink Density Myth Busted

One of the excuses that we’ve heard for years is that transit service is poor in the South of Fraser because we don’t have a high enough density. This is something that I’ve never believed based on density data of our region and low-density cities like Calgary that have high transit usage.

I have to give credit to Paul Hillsdon at Civic Surrey that found this data. TransLink published bus route information to their website on routes outside of Vancouver/Burnaby/Tri-Cities. I decided to plot this information on graphs to see if having frequent transit service or having high density (walkability) played a more important role in attracting riders to transit. The graphs clearly show that density plays a minor role in our region in attracting people to transit. This is because as a region we have an overall higher density compared to other regions in North America. The single most important thing in attracting people to transit (and providing a transit system that can recover more of its cost from the fare box) is to switch routes to frequent service. Frequent service is 15min or better service for most of the day, seven days a week. So while the TransLink Commissioner suggests cutting the FTN network, the data shows that the FTN network should be improved especially in the South of Fraser.

Average Capacity Utilization, FTN, 2011 - Density along routes in parentheses

Average Capacity Utilization, High Walkability, Non-FTN, 2011

1 comment:

Stephen Rees said...

Only in Vancouver would 15 minute headway count as "frequent transit service". Anywhere else looks at single digits!