TransLink passenger numbers hit 88% of normal, fearing overcrowding

Sub Levels

Based on the latest data, public transit ridership in Metro Vancouver continues to increase towards pre-pandemic levels in 2019.

At a public meeting of the Mayors’ Council today, TransLink CEO Kevin Quinn said passenger numbers in the second half of May 2023 reached 88% of 2019 levels, up from around 84% in previous months. rice field.

He added that passenger numbers last weekend reached 99% of pre-pandemic levels.

Of TransLink’s seven service subregions, the Southeast subregion (Surrey, Langley and White Rock) continues to lead the region with overall passenger levels reaching 115% of pre-pandemic levels. This effectively represents a 15% increase in passenger numbers compared to 2019. .

This is followed by Maple Ridge/Pitt Meadows at 106%, Southwest (Richmond, Delta) at 89%, Northeast Sector (Coquitlam, Port Coquitlam, Port Moody) at 84% and North Shore (West Vancouver) at 84%. increase. , North Vancouver), 78% in Burnaby/New Westminster and 76% in Vancouver/UBC.

As another indicator, TransLink has seen a significant year-on-year increase in bus ridership, with each sub-region increasing ridership by 20% from March 2022 to March 2023. The Southeast comes out on top with his 36%, well ahead of his best time. Increase in passenger numbers before 2019. This is followed by 30% in the Southwest, 27% in both the Northeast Sector and the North Shore, 24% in Burnaby/New Westminster, and 20% in both Vancouver/UBC and Maple Ridge/Pitt Meadows.

Here’s how TransLink’s overall passenger numbers fluctuated, based on updates to reported passenger numbers changes.

  • April 2020: 17% before the pandemic
  • September 2020: 41% before the pandemic
  • November 2020: 44% before the pandemic
  • September 2021: 55% before the pandemic
  • January 2022: 60% before the pandemic
  • February 2022: 64.5% before pandemic
  • May 2022: 70% before pandemic
  • June 2022: 72% before the pandemic
  • September 2022: 77% before the pandemic
  • November 2022: Pre-pandemic ‘over 80%’
  • December 2022: 82% before the pandemic
  • March 2023: 84% before the pandemic
  • Late May 2023: 88% before the pandemic

“While we do expect growth to moderate again, the current very high rate of growth shows how rapidly our system is changing and evolving, and we are ready to serve this need. We need to,” Quinn said.

Quinn warns that as passenger numbers surge, congestion will worsen, especially in the fall. He said current levels of overcrowding are becoming more like pre-pandemic conditions.

For example, about 33% of bus trips in the Vancouver/UBC subregion and about 25% of bus trips in the Southeast are currently overcrowded during peak afternoon hours. Such percentages are comparable to the overcrowding both subregions experienced in 2018.

He said that since fall 2022, TransLink has been responding to increased demand on some bus routes and relieving overcrowding by redeploying drivers and vehicles to routes where service levels need to be improved. . However, there are now fewer opportunities to alleviate bus congestion by rearranging buses in a way that does not adversely affect other passengers.

He added that Translink’s next investment plan will explore bus service expansion options with a view to bus service level net profit underpinned by a reliable financing strategy.

Although the gap in overall passenger numbers compared to 2019 is starting to close, Translink’s fare revenue remains lower than pre-pandemic, so the state government recently added $479 million to public transit to cover projections. An additional operating subsidy of $10,000 will be provided. Without this additional injection, TransLink would have been facing significant service cuts this fall.

TransLink’s number of unique customers will recover to around 400,000 in 2023. This is about the same number as in 2019. However, with the continued impact of semi-remote office work, most of these customers have traveled less to get to the office. They used to be in the office five days a week, but now they’re in the office two to three days a week. This means that fewer unique customers buy more expensive monthly passes, instead using cheaper per-fare products.

Translink leadership and mayors’ council create a more stable source of funding for public transit, instead of forcing federal and state governments to rely on fluctuating, demand-driven funding sources such as fares I am continually asked to do so.

Unlike other major Canadian public transit systems, a very significant portion of TransLink’s revenues comes from a portion of the gas tax paid in Metro Vancouver. Gasoline tax revenues are expected to decline as the use of electric battery vehicles continues to expand, with new car models that have significantly improved fuel efficiency expected to suffer further.

Earlier this month, a delegation from the Mayor of Metro Vancouver visited Ottawa to urge the federal government to expedite the implementation of a new Permanent Transportation Fund promised to begin in 2024-2025 instead of the originally scheduled 2026-2027. worked. This will help prevent delays in deploying projects based on TransLink’s Transport 2050 ten-year priority from 2025.

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