Canada’s second best public transit system is operated by TransLink in Metro Vancouver, according to the third annual report that grades the quality and performance of the country’s major transit networks.
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Metro Vancouver received an A+ grade in this year’s report card, placing the region at a tie with Greater Calgary which also received the same grade. This represents an improvement for Metro Vancouver over last year’s grade of A.
In contrast, the transit services that serve Greater Montreal earned an A+++ grade and topped the list while the National Capital Region – Ottawa and Gatineau – and Greater Toronto and Hamilton area received C grades, which means the performance of the services in both regions are lower than expected when compared to other regions in this report.
The 2017 Transit Report Card of Major Canadian Regions, created by Nathan Pachal, a transit commentator and Langley City Councillor, compiled and evaluated data from 23 transit authorities in six major urban regions across the country.
Metro Vancouver is the only region with a single transit service provider with TransLink overseeing all modes of transit while other regions have separate operators for various service.
A variety of factors are used to review the transit services, including revenue kms per service hour, farebox recovery, operating cost per service hour, operating cost per passenger trip, passenger trips per capita, passenger trips per service hour, and passenger trip intensity.
According to Pachal, Metro Vancouver operates most efficiently based on its passenger trip intensity, and regions with a higher score have transit systems that align more closely with transit service demand.
As well, the region has maintained its status for having the best revenue kms per service hour, which means transit service in the region is slightly faster than other regions. But this metric has been slowly declining in the region over the last three years.
While its operating cost per service hour is the highest of all the regions, the operating costs per service hour for other regions have been increasing at a faster rate, closing the gap with Metro Vancouver’s $186.29 operating cost per service hour.
The region with the lowest operating cost per service hour is Greater Calgary at $152.89, but Greater Toronto and Hamilton and Greater Montreal’s operating cost service hours of $178.61 and $180.2, respectively, are only slightly lower than Metro Vancouver’s.
However, Metro Vancouver’s farebox recovery – the portion of operating expenses covered by transit fares – of 53% ranks second best in the country, just behind Greater Toronto and Hamilton at 64%.
Across the board for all regions, Pachal says transit service levels have not kept up with growing demand from population growth, and there is only so much transit service providers can do to optimize services before service deteriorates.
“Overall, Canadian regions are doing more with less when it comes to delivering transit services. Unfortunately, the amount of transit service provided in our major regions is not keeping pace with population growth,” reads the report.
“This is reflected in the continued decline in service hours per capita nationwide. Due to their limited financial resources, Canadian transit agencies have reviewed how and where transit service is delivered to become more efficient. Passenger trip intensity, a measure of efficiency, has increased nationally over the last three years as a result.”
But he notes that the research in this latest report card is based on 2015 data, and with the federal government’s recent major investments in public transit, which is being matched by provinces, there should be an improvement in transit service over the coming years.
Canada’s best public transit systems 2017
1. Greater Montreal (A+++)
2.= Metro Vancouver (A+)
2.= Greater Calgary (A+)
3. Greater Edmonton (B)
4.= Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area (C)
4.= National Capital Region in Ottawa and Gatineau (C)