TransLink says it has experienced another consecutive year of record ridership growth, with passenger totals on Metro Vancouver’s public transit system reaching a historic record high in 2018.
The public transit authority released its 2018 Transit Service Performance Review (TSPR), which found that systemwide boardings throughout the year increased significantly by 7.1% — the largest annual increase on record.
Ridership increases of 8% were recorded for the bus network, 6% for SeaBus, 5.7% for SkyTrain, 7% for West Coast Express, and even 5.8% for HandyDART.
The month of October 2018 was also the largest month for ridership ever, with 39.65 million boardings recorded — more than the 39.2 million boardings recorded in February 2010 during the Winter Olympics. It was also the first time that TransLink saw more than 10 million boardings on the Expo and Millennium lines in a single month.
Recent ridership growth trends in the region were previously attributed to soaring fuel costs, the growing cost of housing, population growth in outlying suburbs, the growing economy, and improved transit service.
Since the implementation of the Compass Card and fare gates at SkyTrain stations and SeaBus terminals, TransLink has been receiving significantly more accurate data on ridership and travel patterns. This has allowed the public transit authority to better gauge demand, reallocate resources to pinch points, and plan for new services where demand is greatest.
Last year’s launch of the TSPR in a dynamic online format also provides the public and data analysts with the ability to see the numbers, right down to each route and station and the year-over-year changes.
“The release of this Performance Review is a matter of transparency for TransLink. We want the public to see the numbers for themselves and understand where we need to invest even more in transit services,” said TransLink CEO Kevin Desmond, in a statement.
“We are improving data reporting with the first HandyDART interactive summary, a breakdown of ridership data for each municipality, and a refreshed data dashboard.”
Through the TSPR, staff at TransLink have identified 52 routes with overcrowding, and they are responding by adding service hours to 32 of these routes before July.
Over the next three years, TransLink will be adding 620,000 bus service hours to improve frequency and increase capacity.
Over the short-term alone, 350 buses will be added to the fleet, including four electric buses, 32 double-decker buses, and 56 HandyDART vehicles.
And by 2020, 56 cars (14 four-car trains), and 24 cars (12 two-car trains) will be added to the Expo/Millennium line system and the Canada Line, respectively, to provide the SkyTrain network with a major capacity boost.
Overall rankings of the busiest routes and stations have only changed slightly since 2017, based on the new data for 2018; nine of the top 10 bus routes ranked by annual boardings serve Vancouver.
Interestingly, the new 95 B-Line along Hastings Street between Burrard Station and SFU has crept up in the rankings, with the route now ranked as 10th busiest.
Surrey and Delta experienced the largest annual increases in bus boardings, with 16.7% and 16.3%, respectively.
Templeton Station on the Canada Line saw the largest percentage increase in annual boardings, growing by 21.1%. This is likely due to increased foot traffic to McArthurGlen Vancouver Outlet Centre, which will open a major expansion later this year, and the recent relocation of Vancouver International Airport’s long-term parking to a new facility next to the station.