Ridership on the West Coast Express dropped 5.5 per cent in 2017 compared to the previous year. (THE NEWS/files)

West Coast Express ridership down in 2017

TransLink says dip was predictable with Evergreen Line

Ridership on the West Coast Express commuter train dropped 5.5 per cent in 2017, at the same time as TransLink’s overall ridership reached an all-time high.

TransLink released its final ridership numbers for 2017 on Thursday, marking a record-breaking 407 million boardings.

That was an increase of 5.7 per cent over 2016.

“This growth demonstrates how investments like the Evergreen extension and the significant boost to transit service as part of the Mayors’ 10-Year Vision is continuing to make transit the preferred option in the region,” said a TransLink press release.

That same Evergreen extension, a 10.9-km stretch of SkyTrain that connects the Tri-Cities area to the rapid transit system, is likely responsible for the dip in West Coast Express ridership, said Chris Bryan of TransLink.

“We just added a pretty amazing piece of infrastructure,” he said, adding it was predictable there would be a dip in WCE ridership as commuters from the Fraser Valley had access to SkyTrain.

He agreed there was “a bad run of service delays” in November and December of 2016 that may have impacted the 2017 WCE ridership. He said those delays, which were related to CP’s use of the tracks for freight trains, have since been resolved.

More likely, he said, some riders have switched to the Evergreen Line, and others use it occassionally – on days when they prefer a more flexible schedule than that offered by WCE, to leave downtown Vancouver after dinner or shopping.

But, he said, WCE remains a premium service for commuters, and 2.32 million boardings in 2017 is still a significant number.

“West Coast Express is a great one-seat, one-way into town,” he said. “It’s a valued service and it will continue to grow over time.”

Boardings on all other modes of transportation across the system were up, including bus (3.2 per cent), Expo/Millennium lines (12 per cent), Canada Line (6.3 per cent) and Seabus (7.3 per cent).

Pitt Meadows Mayor John Becker said the increase in ridership is more impressive considering a North America-wide trend toward less transit use.

“The significant ridership boost is driven partly by the growth of the economic activity in Metro Vancouver, which was Canada’s fastest-growing metropolitan economy in 2017 and is experiencing its lowest unemployment rates since the 2007-2008 economic downturn,” said the TransLink press release.

Becker said TransLink’s commitments to increase all rail service between 2017 and 2026, including West Coast Express, has not changed. Future transit plans will proceed with bus links to rail service.

“The West Coast Express service is going to be enhanced – that is set in stone,” Becker said.

A key to ridership growth in Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows will be the B-Line rapid transit, with dedicated lanes and limited stops, and TransLink will be putting more focus on that project in the coming months, said Bryan.

Becker said it will be important to integrate the B-Line stops into the community strategically.

“It’s not a billion-dollars worth of Skytrain, but it’s important,” he said.

Becker said anyone who travels frequently into Vancouver for school or business by vehicle fights congestion, and he predicts it will get worse as Vancouver gets rid of its traffic viaducts.

“There is a definite incentive to take public transit.”

Just Posted

Kent looking to replace Ferny Coombe pool with indoor facility

The facility being built is dependent on grant funding from the province and federal government

Escape room brings ‘out of the box’ activity to Agassiz

AESS alumni and teacher developed the concept to bring teamwork-based entertainment to the town

Prices still rising, Chilliwack real estate back in balanced territory

Local market is steadier compared to points west with higher increase in average sale price

B.C. storm totals $37M in insured damages

The December storm wreaked havoc on B.C.’s south coast

Relationships, continuity top health-care concerns for Agassiz residents

Feedback during Fraser Health events showed access to health care needs to improve

Trudeau says politicians shouldn’t prey on Canadians’ fears

The Prime Minister was speaking at a townhall in Ontario

Chiasson nets shootout winner as Oilers edge Canucks 3-2

Edmonton moves one point ahead of Vancouver

B.C. chief says they didn’t give up rights for gas pipeline to be built

Hereditary chief: no elected band council or Crown authority has jurisdiction over Wet’suwet’en land

Thieves steal thousands from 140 Coast Capital Savings members

Online fraud tactics included phising and ‘brute force’ in November and December

Condo rental bans may be on way out with B.C. empty home tax

Many exemptions to tax, but annual declarations required

UPDATE: B.C. boy, aunt missing for three days

The pair are missing from Kamloops

Daredevil changes game plan to jump broken White Rock pier

Brooke Colby tells council daredevil event would help boost waterfront business

Dog shot in foot with BB gun during cellphone sale at SkyTrain station

William Ayers, 28, is facing a number of charges after incident in Burnaby

Liberal bows out of byelection after singling out Jagmeet Singh’s race

Karen Wang says she made comments online that referenced Singh’s cultural background

Most Read