Metro Vancouver's TransLink ranked North America's 4th-best public transit system

Jan 9 2023, 10:49 pm

As a mid-size urban region in terms of population, Metro Vancouver’s public transit system punches well above its weight, according to a new global ranking of the world’s best public transit networks.

TransLink’s system in Metro Vancouver is ranked the 22nd best public transit network out of 60 major regions globally, with the vast majority of these regions being significantly larger than Metro Vancouver in terms of both land area and population. It is also effectively the best in Canada.

Metro Vancouver’s public transit system ranked just behind Chicago and Barcelona, and just ahead of Kuala Lumpur and Washington DC. This is based on a new ranking by New York City-based international consulting firm Oliver Wyman.

A total of 13 systems in North America made the ranking, with Vancouver just behind NYC (13th globally), San Francisco (16th globally), and Chicago (20th globally), but ahead of Washington DC (24th globally).

Montreal has North America’s sixth-best public transit system (31st globally), while Toronto ranked seventh (34th globally). Calgary and Edmonton did not make the cut.

The world’s top five public transit systems are in Hong Kong, Zurich, Stockholm, Singapore, and Helsinki.

The ranking described the TransLink system as “affordable” and a “strong multimodal network,” with its “long history of automated transit started with its SkyTrain, putting the system at the forefront of innovation.”

It also gives weight to TransLink’s plan to acquire hundreds of battery-electric buses by 2030 as part of its long-term strategy to transition to net zero emissions by 2050.

While Metro Vancouver’s SkyTrain is best known for being fully driverless, both Montreal and Toronto are making major inroads into expanding rail public transit networks using full-automation technologies, with inspiration stated to be clearly sourced from the success of SkyTrain. With the completion of the SkyTrain Millennium Line extension to Arbutus in 2026 and the SkyTrain Expo Line extension to Langley Centre in 2028, the SkyTrain network will grow from its current length of 80 km to over 101 km.

In Spring 2023, the first segment of the new REM automated train network will open in Montreal. Planning of the $7 billion, 67-km-long system — comparable to the entire length of SkyTrain — first began about a decade ago, construction began in 2018, and most of the network is slated for completion by late 2024. An extension will reach Montreal Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport by 2027, followed by further extensions as long as 32 km as part of “REM de l’Est.”

In Toronto, construction began last year on the $19 billion, 16-km-long, fully-automated Ontario Line, providing a relief line into downtown Toronto and reaching the Canadian National Exhibition grounds.

Other major projects within Greater Toronto include the Eglinton Crosstown LRT and the major expansion and electrification of the GO Train commuter rail network.

Montreal and Toronto also have ambitious plans to electrify their bus fleets, with the Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) being one of the earliest and largest adopters of battery-electric buses in North America.

When it comes to New York City, the best system in North America, the ranking notes its strengths include major multimodal hubs, significant nighttime service, and being friendly to bikes, but the subway requires major reinvestment and modernization.

“While the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) is upgrading subway signals that are 70 years old, autonomous operation is not imminent,” states the ranking.

Best public transit systems in North America

  1. New York (globally #13)
  2. San Francisco (globally #16)
  3. Chicago (globally #20)
  4. Vancouver (globally #22)
  5. Washington DC (globally #24)
  6. Montreal (globally #31)
  7. Boston (globally #33)
  8. Toronto (globally #34)
  9. Los Angeles (globally #37)
  10. Atlanta (globally #42)
  11. Houston (globally #43)
  12. Dallas (globally #45)
  13. Mexico City (globally #50)

Best public transit systems in the world

  1. Hong Kong
  2. Zurich
  3. Stockholm
  4. Singapore
  5. Helsinki
  6. Oslo
  7. Tokyo
  8. Paris
  9. Berlin
  10. London
  11. Amsterdam
  12. Seoul
  13. New York City
  14. Sydney
  15. Moscow
  16. San Francisco
  17. Munich
  18. Milan
  19. Warsaw
  20. Chicago
  21. Barcelona
  22. Vancouver
  23. Kuala Lumpur
  24. Washington DC
  25. Istanbul
  26. Madrid
  27. Beijing
  28. Dublin
  29. Dubai
  30. Buenos Aires
  31. Montreal
  32. Shanghai
  33. Boston
  34. Toronto
  35. Delhi
  36. Santiago
  37. Los Angeles
  38. Jakarta
  39. Bangkok
  40. Rio de Janeiro
  41. Mumbai
  42. Atlanta
  43. Houston
  44. Doha
  45. Dallas
  46. Lima
  47. Sao Paulo
  48. Bogota
  49. Lagos
  50. Mexico City
  51. Cairo
  52. Abu Dhabi
  53. Casablanca
  54. Quito
  55. Cape Town
  56. Manila
  57. Johannesburg
  58. Riyadh
  59. Nairobi
  60. Jeddah
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