Ridership on Metro Vancouver’s public transit system has now reached a new post-pandemic recovery record.
As of last week, TransLink ridership reached 90% of pre-pandemic volumes, shared TransLink CEO Kevin Quinn during Wednesday’s Board of Directors meeting.
Currently, the system sees 400,000 unique customers, and about one-third of the region’s population uses public transit weekly.
“Compared to 2019, our ridership recovery has surpassed all other major transit systems in Canada and the United States,” he said.
“While other agencies in North America are struggling to recover their ridership, there are areas in Metro Vancouver that have now surpassed pre-pandemic volumes.”
Bus ridership in Surrey is now 20% higher than pre-pandemic 2019 levels, and during the afternoon peak period about one-third of bus trips within Vancouver and a quarter within Surrey are now overcrowded in the busiest direction.
“We know this is going to get worse as our population grows because we are growing fast,” continued Quinn, who reiterated the need for funding from the provincial and federal governments to advance the Mayors’ Council’s $21 billion service expansion and improvement plan over 10 years starting in 2025.
It was also shared during the meeting that SkyTrain’s combined Expo and Millennium lines saw 25 million boardings in the second quarter of 2023, which represents two million more than the first quarter of the first quarter of 2023 and five million more than the second quarter of 2022. Furthermore, the average boardings in the second quarter of 2023 represent 87% of peak 2019 ridership.
Metro Vancouver’s SkyTrain network, including the Canada Line, is the fourth busiest metro/subway system in Canada and the United States, based on first-quarter ridership statistics. It is behind the New York City Subway, Montreal Metro, and Toronto Subway, but ahead of the Washington Metro, Chicago L, and the Boston Subway. For context, Metro Vancouver is ranked about 26th in terms of population size amongst major urban regions in Canada and the USA.
After experiencing a slower ridership recovery, ridership on the West Coast Express has also seen an improvement reaching close to other modes of services. The commuter rail line saw mid-week ridership levels reaching 71% and 86% of pre-pandemic levels. This is partially attributed to the return of five-train daily service — up from the previous schedule of four trains — which contributed to a 13% increase in weekly ridership between the second and first quarters of 2023.
Here is how overall TransLink ridership has fluctuated, based on its reported ridership change updates:
- 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
- June 2022: 72% of pre-pandemic
- September 2022: 77% of pre-pandemic
- November 2022: “80%+” of pre-pandemic
- December 2022: 82% of pre-pandemic
- March 2023: 84% of pre-pandemic
- Late-May 2023: 88% of pre-pandemic
- Mid-September 2023: 90% of pre-pandemic
Meanwhile, BC Transit reported today it has seen a 100% recovery in pre-pandemic ridership, based on its performance throughout this month to date.