Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Comparing Portland's TriMet to TransLink

When people critique transit service in Metro Vancouver, they often compare our system to world-class transit systems in places such as Toronto, New York, and London. While we should aspire to having a world-class transit system, it is useful to see how we stack up to other regions that are closer to our size.

The Portland, Oregon Metro area and Metro Vancouver are often compared to each other. Portland is often looked at as one of the places in the US that gets it right when it comes to building a sustainable, accessible region.

With the release of the year end ridership results from the American Public Transit Association, I thought it would be interesting to compare the per capita ridership numbers between Metro Vancouver and Portland. The population counts used for the comparison are based on the number of people that live within the service areas of TriMet and TransLink. (The Portland region has a similar population to Metro Vancouver, but it spreads into Washington State.)

2014 Ridership. Source: APTA, TriMet, BC Stats. Select graphic to enlarge.

People in Metro Vancouver take about 2 times more transit trips per capita than people who live in Portland. Interestingly paratransit, transit service for people with disable, ridership was about the same in both regions.

TriMet and TransLink, the respective transit providers in Portland and Metro Vancouver, provide some performance metrics about their systems. In 2013, the last year that data was available for both systems, I compared the reliability of rail-based transit (MAX Light Rail in Portland and the SkyTrain system in Metro Vancouver.)

2013 Rail On-Time Performance. Source: TriMet and TransLink. Select graphic to enlarge.

It is really hard to compare the cost of providing transit service between Canada and the US. None the less, it cost TriMet on average $2.50USD per boarded passenger trip in 2013. It cost TransLink on average $2.73CND per boarded passenger trip in 2013. The cost to provide transit service is very similar between the two agencies. These costs were for regular bus service, ferry, and rail service. They do not include commuter rail or paratransit costs which are significantly higher for both agencies.

TransLink boarded passenger costs derived from the CUTA 2013 Canadian Transit Fact Book.

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