Ridership on Metro Vancouver’s public transit network fell during the first nine months of the year, despite initial projections that ridership would grow from last year.
TransLink’s third quarter financial report indicates there were 10.1-million fewer bus boardings in the year ending on September 30, representing a 5.7 per cent decrease in bus ridership. In addition, there were 1.79-million fewer rail transit boardings, a reduction of of two per cent, on the three SkyTrain lines and West Coast Express.
Altogether, transit fares were $3.2-million below the same period in 2013. Fare box and prepaid fares were also $6.5-million lower.
The report suggests “the 2013 fare increase had a longer lasting effect on ridership than expected,” but TransLink adds that its latest ridership forecasts show ridership is beginning to recover. In that 2013 fare hike, the price for one and two-zone tickets went up by 25 cents while a three-zone ticket increased by 50 cents to $5.50.
The transportation authority also noted that the free transit day in August and the delay of the new school year due to the prolonged teachers’ strike had an impact on its fare revenues.
Falling gas prices might also be a factor for TransLink’s ridership and revenues in the coming months. With gas prices closing in on $1.00 per litre in the region, this could cause more people to get behind the wheel instead of taking transit.
However, with gas prices reaching a record low, this lost fare revenue could be partially offset by greater fuel tax revenues. TransLink currently takes 17 cents per litre on gas, accounting for about 25 per cent of its annual revenues.
TransLink has stated that it will not pursue another fare increase for January 2015, but that does not rule out a hike later in the year. The authority expects to end the current fiscal year with a $2.3-million surplus from its $1.5-billion budget for the year.
Feature Image: SkyTrain via Shutterstock