TransLink named the best public transit system in North America

Jul 25 2019, 12:25 am

It has been a banner few years for TransLink when it comes to ridership growth and the rollout of expansion plans, and this work is now being recognized by the American Public Transportation Association (APTA).

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The Washington DC-based non-profit organization awarded the 2019 Outstanding Public Transportation System Achievement Award to Metro Vancouver’s public transit authority, which qualified for the major transit system category of providing 20 million or more annual passenger trips.

“Winning this prestigious award means that TransLink has been recognized as the best large public transit system in North America and is a role model for the rest of the public transportation industry,” said Paul Skoutelas, CEO and president of APTA, which is an association representing 1,500 public and private sector member organizations and the only association in North America that represents all modes of public transportation.

A number of considerations for the evaluation period between 2016 and 2018 were made by APTA, including ridership growth, operational efficiency, maintenance initiatives, customer service, financial management, marketing, and sustainability.

Ridership growth during this period was 18% — far higher than all other public transit systems in Canada and the United States, far exceeding growth in population and employment.

“In the past three years, TransLink’s ambitious plan to expand service and upgrade its infrastructure succeeded. With a phenomenal ridership growth… and new highs for on-time performance, it’s not surprising that customer satisfaction is at a record level,” added Skoutelas.

In an open letter to transit riders, TransLink CEO Kevin Desmond thanks the public transit authority’s workforce of nearly 8,000 employees, as well as riders and the general public for “challenging TransLink to do better.” He also highlighted the major milestones made by the organization in recent years after he took on TransLink’s leadership position in 2016, in the aftermath of the failed transit referendum and major SkyTrain service disruptions.

“It hasn’t always been an easy path forward. Four years ago, public confidence in our organization was at an all-time low, and you asked us to do better. To the credit of our employees, and with the support of our customers, board of directors and policy-makers, we stepped up and took on these challenges,” wrote Desmond.

“Because of you we brought in a new culture of public accountability, holding ourselves accountable for our actions, finances, and commitments. This was a major milestone for us as we shifted our focus to the Customer Experience, ensuring customers are at the heart of every decision TransLink makes.”

In the last few years, TransLink introduced new passenger amenities, a new Compass Card system, and made improvements to it including Compass Card wristbands and an industry-leading RFID fare gate technology for riders physically unable to tap a Compass Card.

But at the very core of TransLink’s work is the $9-billion, 10-year Mayors’ Council transit expansion plan, including big-ticket items such as new SkyTrain extensions in Vancouver and Surrey, numerous new ‘RapidBus’ bus routes, increased regular bus service, and improved SeaBus service.

TransLink is also currently engaging the public on Transport 2050 for the creation of its next 30-year transportation expansion strategy, and just last month it unveiled a six-year strategy of improving its customer service.

“Canadians have developed a reputation for exemplifying leadership in innovation, sustainability and technology,” said Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

“That is why we are extremely proud to congratulate TransLink for being a worthy recipient of this prestigious award from the American Public Transportation Association. The Government of Canada continues to be an active partner in helping to deliver this world-class system and celebrates TransLink’s outstanding achievement.”

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Kenneth ChanKenneth Chan

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