Tuesday, December 15, 2015

SkyTrain turned 30. Bus is still king in Metro Vancouver

On Friday last week, the first section of the Expo Line between Waterfront Station and New Westminster Station opened 30 years ago from the day. Metro Vancouver’s SkyTrain Network is about the same age as me.

In case you haven’t seen, there are three 1980s SkyTrain propaganda films that were release by BC Transit and the provincial government between 1983 through 1985: On Track, Rapid Transit – Rapid Transition, and the slyly named “Goin’ to Town”.

While the videos themselves are really cheesy, they actually didn’t understate the profound impact that SkyTrain would have on the region. The fast, frequent service provided by the driverless rapid transit network has shaped our region’s built-form around transit. This is evident even in the South of Fraser.

While SkyTrian certainly is an important part of our transit network in Metro Vancouver, and has shaped its development, our region is actually one of the least rail-transit dependent of all regions with rail-based transit (I’m not counting Ottawa's small O-Train, or commuter rail in general.)

According to information complied by CUTA in 2013, 57% of all transit boardings in Montreal were on rail transit. In Calgary, 52% of transit boardings werre by rail. 48% of transit boardings in Toronto were on rail transit. In Edmonton, that number was 24%. Metro Vancouver had 25% of all transit boardings by rail transit.

So while SkyTrian's impact on the region's built-form and psyche are significant, it is interesting that bus service is what moves the vast majority of transit riders in Metro Vancouver.

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