Tuesday, January 7, 2020

Metro Vancouver: North American transit leader. Bus, SkyTrain, SeaBus, and West Coast Express ridership up.

Currently in Metro Vancouver, we are midway through our region’s 10-Year Transportation Vision which includes significant investment into bus, SkyTrain, and commuter rail service in addition to larger projects such as extending the SkyTrain network along Broadway and to Langley.

Carvolth Exchange in the Township of Langley. Select image to enlarge.

This investment in service, combined with a strong economy, has created a boom in transit ridership. Starting in 2017, there has been a significant increase in transit ridership in Metro Vancouver. The latest numbers show that this trend is continuing.

The American Public Transit Association keeps track of ridership statistics from public transit agencies in both Canada and the US. They recently release their third-quarter ridership results from 2019.

The year-to-date information shows the following ridership increases in Metro Vancouver as follows:

  • SkyTrain: 3.45% increase
  • West Coast Express: 5.83% increase
  • SeaBus: 3.57% increase
  • Bus: 4.6% increase

One of the interesting numbers is the increase in ridership for the West Coast Express. Starting in 2013, ridership on the West Coast Express decreased. Average weekday ridership was 10,600. This dipped to 9,300 in 2017. In the third quarter of 2019, ridership was up to 10,300. The introduction of SkyTrain service to the tri-cities area seems to have not had a long-term impact on West Coast Express ridership.

In Canada, the Toronto and Montreal regions have higher rail transit usage which makes sense due to their larger population. Compared to the US, our region’s rail network is in the same league as Washington DC, Chicago, Boston, San Francisco, and New York City.

For bus service, only Toronto, LA, and New York City have higher ridership.

The numbers show that there is a built-up demand for transit in our region, and when provided with increased service, people will use it. This year will be a critical year to get the ball rolling on the final phase of our region’s 10-Year Transportation Vision. Funding to implement the final phase needs to be confirmed by both the federal and provincial governments, plus our regions’ mayors need to figure out how to pay for the regional portion.

The regional portion funds the on-going operation costs. Some of the funding tools available today include increasing transit fares, property tax, gas tax, developer fees, or a combination of all four.

I look forward to our region moving forward with the final phase of this vision as it will also include getting SkyTrain built to Langley.

No comments: