Langley City Councillor and urbanist Nathan Pachal has issued a report card on transit systems in Canada’s biggest urban areas.
TransLink, serving Metro Vancouver, is ranked behind Montreal but ahead of Toronto/Hamilton, Calgary, Ottawa and Edmonton.
The report card draws on the latest data available, from 2014. Greater Montreal had the lowest operating costs per passenger trip and the highest transit use per capita of any major region. Greater Vancouver scored well on a metric called “trip intensity”, a calculation Pachal has devised to describe the alignment between transit service levels and transit demand. However, TransLink had the highest operating cost per service hour ($181.47) of any of the systems that were measured.
Pachal supported the losing side in Metro Vancouver’s 2015 transit tax referendum (as did Fraseropolis). When we met last week, however, he said that the voters’ rejection of extra money for TransLink is likely to push it to greater efficiency and higher scores in any future report cards.
It’s notable that in every transit area except Edmonton, riders are paying more than 50 per cent of the cost of system operation. Transit critics have often proposed that fares should be higher, but it’s obvious that if fares go too high, ridership will decline along with revenues.