The Evergreen extension of SkyTrain added an average of 30,000 passengers per weekday to the Millennium Line, according to TransLink’s first ridership figures for the addition.
Passenger counts are based on data from January, following the holiday season and the full implementation of bus changes in the Northeast sector of the region to align with the new SkyTrain service.
“There is strong evidence that people are trying the system and taking advantage of the value, convenience and time savings offered now that rapid transit is available in the Tri Cities for the first time,” reads a release.
In contrast, the now-defunct 97 B-Line running along the same route with many of the same stop locations had just 10,000 boardings per weekday.
The public transit authority says 150,000 people tried the Evergreen extension during its first eight weeks of operation, beginning on December 2. Nearly half of the weekday transit boardings in the Tri-Cities occur on the Evergreen extension, and this share increases to 60% on weekends.
Additionally, 20% of the extension’s trips begin and end within the Tri-Cities.
Future ridership growth
The extension’s ridership growth mirrors the opening of the Canada Line with a 10% increase over the first eight weeks of service.
Major planned redevelopments near stations, including Burquitlam Station, Lincoln Station, and particularly Lougheed Town Centre Station, are expected to be one of the major contributors to ridership growth. TransLink cites Marine Gateway, a major mixed-use development with residential, office, major retail, and a Cineplex theatre, as an example as the project alone increased ridership at the Canada Line’s Marine Gateway Station by 35%.
Initial ridership forecasts for the project estimate the extension will add 50,000 daily passengers to the system by the end of the first year and 70,000 passengers by 2021. But this could be hampered by a lack of trains, with train loads frequently reaching capacity during most hours of the day. TransLink has ordered another 28 new generation cars for the system, but the trains are not expected to go into service until 2019.
By comparison, the Canada Line carries approximately 130,000 passengers per weekday, and it reached its 100,000 ridership goal to break-even on costs within the first year to the surprise of many of its early critics. The Expo and Millennium lines have a combined ridership exceeding 300,000.
Conservative estimates peg the proposed daily ridership of the underground Broadway extension of the Millennium Line at 150,000 passengers per day upon opening. Buses that serve the Broadway Corridor, including the 99 B-Line, already see over 100,000 passengers per day.
The 11-km, six-station Evergreen extension cost $1.4 billion to build. Passengers are able to take a one-train ride from VCC-Clark Station in Vancouver to Lafarge Lake-Douglas Station in only 35 minutes while a trip on just the new extension from Lougheed Town Centre Station to Lafarge Lake-Dougls Station will take 15 minutes.