Metro Vancouver’s public transit system is leading the country when it comes to the growth in the proportion of ridership.
According to new data released by Statistics Canada, Vancouver’s proportion of public transit commuters grew by 6.1% to 20.4% between 1996 and 2016. In contrast, during the same period, Toronto only saw a growth of 2.3% while Montreal experienced an uptick of 2.5%.
Statistics Canada attributes the growth to the rapid expansion of public transit infrastructure in the Vancouver region over the last 20 years. The length of SkyTrain track tripled after the opening of the Millennium Line in 2002 and Canada Line in 2009, and the bus fleet increased by over 250 vehicles in the years leading up to the 2010 Winter Olympics.
As well, of the three largest census metropolitan areas, Vancouver had the largest decline in the share of private vehicle commuters compared to the national average. This number ranged from a 2.9% decline in Montreal to a 7.9% decrease in Vancouver.
TransLink spokesperson Chris Bryan told Daily Hive that regional growth and development patterns are also a major factor for the numbers.
“I think on the bigger picture, it is a sign that our regional plans are working well,” he said. “Our cities in the region have done a great job in working on those plans and focusing development around the major transit corridors, especially around SkyTrain.”
“The cities are doing a lot of work to build transit-oriented development, so it creates an easy choice for people to make transit the way they get to work or wherever they need to go.”
The 11-km-long Evergreen extension of the Millennium Line is also pushing ridership growth, although it was not factored into the latest Statistics Canada figures. The extension will mark its one-year anniversary next week.
Comparatively, the transit systems in Toronto and Montreal saw limited expansion over the last two decades, but they are quickly catching up.
Toronto has a number of subway extension and light rail projects that will be reach completion over the next few years, including the 8.6-km-long Toronto York-Spadina subway expansion that will open in mid-December 2017.
Montreal’s ambitions are even larger, with its plans to build a new 67-km-long driverless, SkyTrain-like train network by 2022. It also intends to extend its STM subway system.
Currently, with the Evergreen extension, Vancouver’s SkyTrain system is Canada’s longest rail rapid transit system, but this title will be retaken by Toronto when the York-Spadina extension opens.
When complete in the mid-2020s, the Broadway extension of the Millennium Line and first phase of the Surrey light rail project will add a combined 15.5 km to Metro Vancouver’s rail rapid transit network.
Public transit commuting in 8 of Canada’s largest regions: Statistics Canada
- 1996: 14.3%
- 2016: 20.4%
- 20-year growth: +6.1%
- 1996: 19.8%
- 2016: 22.3%
- 20-year growth: +2.5%
- 1996: 22.0%
- 2016: 24.3%
- 20-year growth: +2.3%
- 1996: 9.0%
- 2016: 11.3%
- 20-year growth: +2.3%
5. Quebec City
- 1996: 9.2%
- 2016: 11.1%
- 20-year growth: +1.9%
- 1996: 12.6%
- 2016: 14.4%
- 20-year growth: +1.8
- 1996: 18.3%
- 2016: 17.0%
- 20-year growth: -1.3%
- 1996: 13.6%
- 2016: 14.3%
- 20-year growth: +0.7%
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- Broadway Subway construction scheduled to start in fall 2019
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