Not long after reaching its fifth year anniversary this past August, SkyTrain’s Canada Line recorded its 200-millionth passenger sometime sometime on Sunday, November 16.
While the fare gates have yet to go into operation, infrared sensors located at the ticketing halls of each station have been clocking passenger numbers since the first day of service on August 17, 2009.
“Commuters and airport travellers have embraced Canada Line by using this high-speed train well beyond original expectations of its launch in 2009,” said Marcella Szel, Chair of the TransLink Board of Directors. “Developers have since contributed millions in private funds towards stations and nearby residential properties, ensuring a truly transit-oriented community.”
The $2.05-billion line has 16 stations along 19 kilometres of track and attracts 122,000 passengers per weekday – about two years ahead of ridership forecasts with 20,000 more riders per day. The line’s one-day ridership record of 287,379 was made on February 19, 2010 during the Olympics.
Ridership on the Canada Line is expected to increase by 85 per cent in 30 years.
“Could we meet the ridership targets? Would we be on the hook if we weren’t able to meet the targets? As we all now know, that has not turned out to be the case,” said Vancouver City Councillor Andrea Reimer.
During a news conference today, Richmond mayor Malcolm Brodie acknowledged that the biggest challenge with the line is with meeting capacity during peak periods. In particular, Richmond-Brighouse Station has been known for growing instances of overcrowding to the extent that access to the platform level is occasionally temporarily closed until crowds dissipate.
Over the coming decade, TransLink’s Mayors’ Council has agreed to a plan to add 12 more train cars and enhance train control systems and stations in an effort to increase system capacity. Two more stations will also be added at Capstan Way in Richmond and 33rd Avenue in Vancouver to serve new transit-oriented developments.
“Now the question isn’t whether the demand will fill the capacity, but how quickly we can fill capacity to meet the demand such as that which exists on the Broadway Corridor,” Reimer added. “Since opening in August 2009, the Canada Line has consistently exceeded all targets… [and] makes Toronto jealous, contributes to our economy and the region’s reputation as a desirable place to live and work.”
The Canada Line is still the country’s first and only train service to an airport. Toronto’s Union Pearson Express will be Canada’s second “airport train” – it is scheduled to open next year, connecting passengers from Pearson International Airport to downtown Toronto’s Union Station in 25-minutes.
However, there has been criticism over the Toronto service’s high fares of approximately $30 for a single trip and forecasts of low ridership projections: only 5,000 people are expected to use the train service daily when it opens in time for the 2015 Pan American Games.
For the Canada Line, there is a $5.00 surcharge added to fares for travel leaving Sea Island. While the Canada Line is a part of the SkyTrain network and owned by TransLink, the service is privately operated by ProTransBC (SNC Lavalin) over a 35-year design, build and operate contract.
Feature Image: Canada Line via Shutterstock