TransLink ridership recovery now at 70% of pre-pandemic volumes

May 17 2022, 7:49 pm

Metro Vancouver’s public transit authority has indicated it is making headway on its ridership recovery, especially on weekends.

On the weekends of April 23/24, April 30/May 1, and May 7/8, ridership reached 75% of pre-pandemic volumes, building on the consistent pattern of weekend ridership recovering faster than weekdays, according to TransLink.

The recent weekend ridership boost was aided by the return of some of the region’s largest annual events. And over the first four months of this year, weekend ridership has averaged 6% to 7% higher in terms of pre-pandemic recovery than weekday ridership.

Overall, weekdays and weekends combined, TransLink’s ridership is now 70% of pre-pandemic levels, making it one of the highest recovery levels amongst the largest public transit systems in Canada and the United States.

TransLink previously stated that by late 2022, ridership is expected to further recover to 80% to 90% of pre-pandemic volumes, which is roughly equivalent to the annual ridership experienced between 2015 and 2017.

The growth is attributed to high vaccination rates, increased confidence, the relaxation of health restrictions, the return of tourists, and the ongoing restart of the economy. High gas prices and the inflation of living costs are likely growing factors, too.

  • TransLink ridership fluctuations:
    • April 2020: 17% of pre-pandemic
    • September 2020: 41% of pre-pandemic
    • November 2020: 44% of pre-pandemic
    • September 2021: 55% of pre-pandemic
    • January 2022: 60% of pre-pandemic
    • February 2022: 64.5% of pre-pandemic
    • May 2022: 70% of pre-pandemic

But within downtown Vancouver, public transit ridership recovery continues to lag behind the rest of the region, with work-from-home still in effect for many office-based businesses. Office workers are gradually returning to their traditional workplace at a slower pace than expected before the Omicron coronavirus variant.

In April, TransLink made its annual spring service changes to adjust for seasonal changes in demand, with decreased services to post-secondary institutions but increases to major parks and beaches, for example. The public transit authority has indicated it will be making more service improvements to popular destinations for its upcoming summer service changes in June.

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