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Metro Vancouver transit ridership increasing faster than any other region in Canada, U.S.

The region is one of only four with a population over one million that saw transit ridership grow last year
Photo Dan Toulgoet

Transit ridership in Metro Vancouver is on the rise faster than anywhere else in Canada and the United States.

According to the latest statistics from the American Public Transit Association, the region has experienced a 5.7 per cent increase in the number of boardings year-over-year. Only three other urban areas with a population of more than one million saw transit ridership growth last year.

  •  Metro Vancouver: 5.7 per cent
  • Phoenix, Arizona: 3.5 per cent
  • Seattle, Washington: 2.3 per cent
  • Montreal, Quebec: 2.3 per cent

All modes of public transit in the region saw an increase last year, except the West Coast Express, which saw a 5.5 per cent decrease in the number of boardings. The Expo and Millennium lines saw the biggest increase of 12 per cent over 2016. Bus ridership was up by 3.2 per cent, Canada Line was up 6.3 per cent, SeaBus saw a 7.3 per cent increase and HandyDART was up by 1.8 per cent.

Buses have the greatest ridership by far. In 2017, the bus system in the region saw 247 boardings compared to a combined 151 million on all three SkyTrain lines.

TransLink is attributing the increase to a number of factors, including economic growth in the region, high gas prices and the addition of the Evergreen extension to the Millennium Line. As well, the transit company has undertaken other improvements as part of Phase One of the Mayor’s Council on Regional Transportation 10-Year Vision. TransLink highlighted recent improvements, such as: a 10 per cent increase in bus and a 15 per cent increase in HandyDART service; more frequent SkyTrain service on all three lines, and; an increase in SeaBus service to at least every 15 minutes all day, every day.

“More people are taking transit than ever before,” TransLink CEO Kevin Desmond said in a press release. “This data shoes that when we invest in public transit, ridership rises. I’m so glad we were able to add this new service at a time when demand is surging. We are ready to build upon the success we’re seeing with the rollout of Phase Two of the vision and keep this momentum alive.”

The company is planning on adding more new service as part of Phase One — the delivery of 80 new SkyTrain and Canada Line cars later this year, additional B-Line routes and a new SeaBus vessel in 2019.

The planned extension of the Millennium Line down Broadway and light rail in Surrey, as well as other planned improvements as part of Phase Two, which was announced earlier this month, will extend public transit’s reach in the region.

“It’s encouraging to see people in my city and around the region taking advantage of this new level of transit service available as the 10-Year Visions continues to roll out,” said Burnaby Mayor Derek Corrigan, who also chairs the Mayor’s Council. “Our region is hungry for more transit connections and capacity. The execution of Phase Two of the vision and the improvements it will bring can keep this trend going.”