SkyTrain Evergreen Extension sees strong ridership growth 3 years after opening

Dec 2 2019, 5:50 pm

The Millennium Line Evergreen Extension project opened three years ago today, and ever since, it has had a transformative impact on how people get around in the Tri-Cities.

According to the City of Coquitlam’s analysis of TransLink and municipal data, annual transit boardings including bus, SkyTrain, and West Coast Express increased by 34% between 2016 and 2018, largely as a result of the opening of the extended SkyTrain route — replacing the 97 B-Line.

The $1.4-billion, 11-km-long Evergreen Extension added six new SkyTrain stations in Port Moody and Coquitlam, and provided Lougheed Town Centre Station with an additional platform. It takes 15 minutes to travel between Lougheed Town Centre Station and Lafarge Lake-Douglas Station, and 36 minutes from VCC-Clark Station to Lafarge Lake-Douglas Station.

Data provided by the public transit authority indicates ridership growth on the Evergreen Extension has been steady, with average weekday boardings in September 2019 reaching 39,500 — up from 37,200 in September 2018 and 34,000 in September 2017.

This growth was also achieved by the integration of bus services in the Tri-Cities with the SkyTrain stations, as well as new and improved bus services, and the municipal government’s strategies of building new and improved street infrastructure, including 42 kms of new sidewalks, 11 kms of multi-use paths, 12 kms of shared bike facilities, and seven kms of bike lanes.

Based on the TransLink’s recently released data for its latest Trip Diary, walking trips had the highest growth of all transportation modes, with a 130% increase between 2011 and 2017. Overall, during the same period, the sustainable transportation mode share — walking, cycling, and public transit combined — increased from 15% to 20%, respectively.

With this rate of growth, city staff state Coquitlam is on track to exceed a 30% sustainable transportation mode share by 2031.

At the moment, approximately 47,000 residents, or 33% of the municipality’s population, live within walking distance of a frequent transit network, representing an increase of 33% from 2011.

Between 2014 and 2017, vehicle ownership rates in areas close to SkyTrain — specifically Coquitlam city centre, and the Burquitlam and Lougheed areas — fell by 17%.

The transit mode share is expected to see an uptick when the R3 Lougheed Highway RapidBus service launches in January 2020, running from Coquitlam Central Station and Maple Ridge with travel times of just 30 to 37 minutes, depending on traffic, and frequencies of 10 to 15 minutes.

In 2025, both real transit ridership and overall public transit mode share will soar when the Millennium Line Broadway Extension reaches completion, creating a new transfer-less, one-train ride from Arbutus Street to Lafarge Lake-Douglas Station in approximately 47 minutes.

Over the long-term, Coquitlam’s plans of catalyzing high-density, transit-oriented developments around its SkyTrain stations will be a major driver for ridership. Each station area serving the city is set to see extensive redevelopment projects.

Thousands of new homes are already in the development pipeline for Burquitlam Station, and as part of the Coquitlam city centre plan the areas around Coquitlam Central Station and Lincoln Station will see a mix of tall residential and office towers, along with other commercial uses. At the Millennium Line’s eastern terminus, Lafarge Lake-Douglas Station will receive a mix of new housing density and civic use intensification.

At the starting point of the Evergreen Extension, the area around Lougheed Town Centre Station, under the jurisdiction of the City of Burnaby, will feed in more riders when it is completely redeveloped into a new high-density hub. This includes the redevelopment of the existing Lougheed Town Centre shopping mall and the proposal to build an 82-storey tower next to the station — the new tallest building in Metro Vancouver.

Some densification is also planned for Moody Centre Station and Inlet Centre Station in Port Moody.

The West Coast Express, which has stations at Coquitlam Central Station and Moody Centre Station, saw its ridership rebound in 2018 after experiencing a slight decline in 2017 from the opening of the Evergreen Extension.

Evergreen Extension boardings per average weekday

  • Burquitlam Station:
    • 2018: 3,760
    • 2019: 4,330
  • Moody Centre Station:
    • 2018: 2,030
    • 2019: 2,310
  • Inlet Centre Station:
    • 2018: 1,890
    • 2019: 2,060
  • Coquitlam Central Station:
    • 2018: 4,010
    • 2019: 4,510
  • Lincoln Station:
    • 2018: 3,610
    • 2019: 3,990
  • Lafarge Lake-Douglas Station:
    • 2018: 2,700
    • 2019: 2,950