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

Langley work crews prep for significant dump of snow

Preperation underway to keep roads as clear and safe as possible

UPDATE: 10-20 cm of snow expected Friday in Lower Mainland

Snowfall warning in effect from North Shore mountains out to Hope

VIDEO: Flames consume small building at Langley Events Centre

Thursday afternoon demo shows the importance of having sprinklers installed

Langley program helps youth find their employment niche

The first session of Skills to Success youth employment program wrapped up and a second has started.

Charges laid in 2016 Mission crash that killed Langley teenager

Lidia Ramos died when the car she was riding in slipped off a logging road in heavy rain

B.C. Games open with Olympic touch

The 2018 B.C. Winter Games kicked off in Kamloops

BCHL Today: Merritt Centennials keep moving while Salmon Arm Silverbacks slide

BCHL Today is a (near) daily look at what’s going on around the league and the junior A world.

Former Canuck Roberto Luongo addresses Florida shooting victims

Parkland, Fla., resident, delivers speech before Florida Panthers’ first home game since tragedy

OLYMPIC ROUNDUP: Kelowna skier Kesley Serwa adds to Canada’s gold medals

Despite losses in men’s hockey and curling, Canadian women won medals in ski cross and figure skating

5 to start your day

Up to 20 cm of snow expected in parts of Lower Mainland, possible bridge lane closures, and more

Suspected serial killer targeting Toronto gay community now faces six murder charges

Bruce McArthur now charged with murders of six men: Toronto police

Trump suggests more guns in schools to combat shootings

Trump floats two-step plan for gun control: More guns, more control

Second Russian athlete tests positive for doping at Olympics

Russian Bobsled Federation states a drug-test sample that pilot Nadezhda Sergeeva gave on Sunday was positive.

Indigenous leaders call for change after ‘system fails’ Tina Fontaine

‘All of us should be ashamed’: Calls for change after jury finds Raymond Cormier not guilty

Most Read