By all accounts, based on the data from the first few days of ridership, the Evergreen Extension of SkyTrain’s Millennium Line is a runaway success.
During a board of directors meeting on Friday, TransLink CEO Kevin Desmond said 45,000 Compass Cards were used during the first five days of revenue service at the six new stations built along the $1.4-billion, 11 km long extension. He noted that ridership was more than the combined populations of Port Moody, Anmore, and Belcarra.
“There was a lot of excitement,” said Desmond. “What we’re seeing so far, the ridership at each of the stations is roughly comparable to most of the Millennium Line stations. I am convinced that over time, it will be a great success.”
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The initial ridership figure is impressive as it comes well before the bus changes planned for the Tri-Cities beginning on December 19.
A total of 22 routes are affected, with some services being rerouted to funnel passengers into SkyTrain stations and other services such as the 97 B-Line cancelled given that route parallels the Evergreen Extension.
The real ridership test for the Evergreen Extension will be in January, after the holiday season slowdown when travel patterns normalize and passengers become accustomed with the new bus routes.
The Millennium Line with the Evergreen Extension now utilizes a fleet exclusively of two-car Mark II trains from VCC-Clark to Lafarge Lake-Douglas stations. Although trains are shorter, the overall capacity has increased slightly given that peak hour trains run every three minutes instead of about every six minutes.
Additional trains funded by the Mayor’s Council’s Phase One Plan will not be running on the SkyTrain system until late 2018 or early 2019.
It is anticipated that the Evergreen Extension will attract 50,000 additional daily riders to the Millennium Line by the end of 2017, increasing to 70,000 daily riders by 2021.
Overall across the transit system, ridership has increased by 4% during the year to date, approximately the double of original forecasts.