Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Bus ridership up as TransLink improves service in the South of Fraser

In April, I posted that transit ridership started to decline in 2013 and into 2014. This is no surprise giving the fact that TransLink has been forced to cut service* as a result of provincially mandated “service optimization”. This optimization, combined with the unwilling of the province to work with the region to come up with a long-term funding solution for transit in Metro Vancouver, is limiting the transit growth and the livability of our region.

Yesterday, TransLink released their 2013 Bus Service Performance review. I thought I’d share some of the highlights from the review.

2010 – 2013 Financial and Service Performance Results. Source: TransLink Financial Planning & Translink System Analytics, Not Automated Passenger Counter Data. Select graph to enlarge.

The amount of transit service hours in the region has been modestly declining over the last few years. While ridership has dropped, the amount of system boardings per service hour has actually gone up: 4 percent for the overall transit system, and 6% when only looking at the bus system. This shows that people are willing to take transit, but there simply isn’t enough service.

TransLink’s transit service can't be delivered more efficiently. For the few years prior to 2013, TransLink was able to reduce service hours while still growing transit ridership. When cutting service hours results in reduce ridership, it means that you shouldn’t cut service further.

2010 – 2013 Bus Service Performance by Sub-Region. Source: TransLink Automated Passenger Counting Data. Select graph to enlarge.

One of the common complaints about TransLink from people in the South of Fraser is that the South of Fraser is paying for Vancouver’s transit system. When looking at the numbers, TransLink has made the heaviest investment in bus transit service in the South of Fraser. Between 2010 and 2013, bus service hours have increased by 11%. While this is an impressive number, the South of Fraser is still playing catch-up when it comes to transit service in the region. Further increases to bus service hours —giving people the transit service they need— will require new long-term funding.

In Vancouver, bus service hours have only increase by 1.2%; bus service hours aren't even keeping up with population growth.

When it comes to overall ridership, the South of Fraser has experienced the highest percent growth in the region. Even while overall transit ridership has dipped, transit ridership in Surrey, White Rock, and Langley actually increased by 2 percent in 2013. In Vancouver, transit ridership dropped by 2 percent.

2010 – 2013 Bus Ridership Trends by Sub Region. Source: TransLink Automated Passenger Counting Data. Select graph to enlarge.

TransLink has good information in its 2013 Bus Service Performance Overview. I suggest you read the full 26 page summary for more information.

*As part of TransLink's service optimization, bus service hours have been shifted around the network to better match demand. For example transit frequency has been increase along Fraser Highway, but bus service to Salmon River Uplands in Langley has been cancelled. Between 2012 and 2013, overall system service hours has decreased by 2 percent.

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