Tuesday, October 14, 2014

TransLink ridership down in second quarter

Every quarter, the American Public Transportation Association (APTA) releases transit ridership statistics for participating agencies in Canada and the US. TransLink provides its ridership data to the APTA. The APTA recently released its second quarter ridership report; TransLink ridership is down 1.51% compared to 2013.

Average Weekday
(Apr-Jun 2014)
Trips thru June 2014
Trips thru June 2013
Year-to-Date Change
SkyTrain and Canada Line
381.8 57,057.1 57,297.5 -0.42%
West Coast Express
10.5 1,333.9 1,401.7 -4.84%
HandyDart 4.7 700.0 755.2 -7.31%
SeaBus 19.8 2,812.2 2,857.9 -1.60%
Bus Network (Non-trolley)
604.7 85,530.1 86,872.8 -1.55%
Trolley Bus Network
212.8 30,144.3 31,122.5 -3.14%
Total 1234.4 177,577.6 180,307.6 -1.51%

Table source: APTA Transit Ridership Report, Second Quarter, 2014. Ridership data in thousands.

As I mentioned in a post this summer, TransLink ridership was going up until 2013. Ridership started to decline in 2013, not surprisingly as TransLink started to aggressively optimize the transit network. With no new funding to expand transit service to address overcrowding in some parts of the region or correct the underinvestment in other parts, TransLink has been shifting service hours around. For example, if TransLink wants to increase the frequent of the 99 B-Line, frequent would need to be reduced on a route somewhere else in the region.

About 50% of all bus trips take place in Vancouver and UBC. According to TransLink data, bus ridership actually grew in most part of the region in 2013. Vancouver/UBC and the Northeast Sector were the major exceptions. So while more people are taking the bus in Surrey, less are in Vancouver.

Looking at the preceding table, the Trolley Bus Network saw the largest drop in ridership. As the Trolley Bus Network really only serves Vancouver/UBC, it support previous data that transit ridership is mostly declining in the City of Vancouver.

I believe that are several reason for this decline. One of the reason is likely due to overcrowding on the bus network; people are simplely deciding to not take the bus. With the City of Vancouver investing heavily in quality cycling infrastructure, I wouldn’t be surprised if people are shifting to cycling. It would be interesting to see the mode split between driving, transit, and active transportation from 2010 forward in the City of Vancouver.

Of course the other major reduction in ridership is on the HandyDart network which saw massive services cuts in the last few years.

Transit ridership is going in the wrong direction in Metro Vancouver. With the upcoming transit referendum, combined with TransLink’s bad brand, I’m concerned that our region many not have the funding to deliver much need transit service.

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