Monday, December 5, 2022

TransLink Ridership is Recovering. Revenue Not Recovering as Fast.

Ridership of the transit system in Metro Vancouver continued to recover and was at 81.5% of pre-COVID levels as of October. People are using transit as part of their daily lives, whether going to school, shopping, recreation, or getting services. In fact, for all these purposes, ridership has fully recovered. With people still working hybrid or remotely, trips to the office as still 20% to 30% below pre-COVID levels. This reduction in office trips means that TransLink will have some challenges and opportunities.

2022/23 Transit Ridership Outlook. Select graph to enlarge.

The challenge is that fewer people are buying monthly passes, and more students are on discounted passes using transit. This change in fare product mix means that rider-for-rider TransLink is receiving less revenue. TransLink is also seeing fewer people use transit during peak periods.

The opportunity is that TransLink may be able to evaluate how it delivers transit service. It can continue to shift away from providing peak services oriented around getting people to Downtown Vancouver to providing a frequent all-day/night network. I know in the South of Fraser, many people work shifts. Having good transit service early in the morning and late at night is critical. TransLink is already reallocating service hours from lower-performing routes to better-performing routes.

Key Regional Transit Connections. Select map to enlarge.

One of the things that TransLink could consider is investing in key transit routes while carefully evaluating the need for some lower-frequency or commuter routes.

As a region will also have to look at how we fund transit, maybe relying less on fare revenue.

TransLink’s ridership continues to recover faster than other agencies in North America, even New York City! We have built a region where taking transit makes a lot of sense, so we must continue to invest in transit service.

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