Ridership on Metro Vancouver’s public transit network soared to a new level never seen before in the region’s history, TransLink announced this morning.
The public transit authority says 384.83 million boardings were recorded last year, marking a 4.5% increase from the 362.92 million boardings in 2015, which was also a record year. The ridership figures account for all three SkyTrain lines, buses, West Coast Express, and SeaBus.
TransLink says the ridership increase can be partially attributed to strong economic growth in Metro Vancouver and low unemployment rates since the 2008 recession. As well, the Compass Card system, fare gates at SkyTrain and SeaBus stations, and bus card readers are likely fare evasion deterrents for a certain segment of the passengers and provide the transit authority with a more accurate picture of its ridership.
“Ridership is one way we measure our success as a transit agency, and increasing the number of people on our system is something we’ve set as a core priority,” said TransLink CEO Kevin Desmond in a statement. “The 2016 numbers show us there is strong demand for public transportation options. They also underscore the need for the kind of boost in transit service we are beginning to see this year as we roll out Phase One of the Mayors’ 10-Year Vision for improving transportation in the Lower Mainland.”
Additionally, TransLink unveiled today its ‘Accountability Centre’ – a new section on its website that provides the public with a single location to view the transit authority’s statistics and performance metrics, including ridership levels, customer satisfaction, on-time performance and on-time arrival of buses and trains, elevator and escalator availability, safety, service productivity and operating cost recovery, energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions, and financial and board reports.
For its tracking of service hours provided per capita, there was a downward trend from 2011 to 2015 due to growing demand from a growing population but a lack of funding to increase and improve services. However, with the opening of SkyTrain’s Evergreen extension and Mayors’ Council’s recent approval of the $2-billion Phase One transit improvement plan, there will be an uptick beginning this year. Some elements of Phase One have already been introduced, such as more frequent train service on SeaBus and the Expo, Millennium, and Canada lines.
“We’re proud of the work we do here at TransLink, but we are always striving to improve and ensure we keep our focus on what’s important to our customers,” continued Desmond. “The Accountability Centre ensures the public has an opportunity to see how well TransLink is operating and where it needs to make improvements.”
TransLink’s Accountability Centre concept borrows a similar concept that Desmond launched when he was the General Manager of King Country Metro Transit in Seattle.