Bus ridership leading the return to transit

NEW data from TransLink shows bus ridership is recovering faster than all other transit modes.

The Transit Service Performance Review (TSPR) details TransLink’s 2021 ridership and reveals that bus ridership bounced back strongest of all transit modes, reaching 62 per cent of pre-pandemic levels by the end of last year. 

Bus ridership recovery outpaced HandyDART (59%), SkyTrain’s Expo and Millennium Lines (57%), the Canada Line and SeaBus (both at 54%), and the West Coast Express (26%). Since then, bus ridership recovery has grown to 71 per cent in May of 2022.

“It’s gratifying to see the commitment to transit by the people of Metro Vancouver over the last two difficult years,” said TransLink CEO Kevin Quinn on Wednesday. “Transit has long been at the centre of our communities and will continue to be imperative to Metro Vancouver life, economic growth, and tourism.”

The report also shows that TransLink’s ridership recovery was stronger than most transit systems in Canada and the United States. With overall system-wide ridership recovery at 59 per cent at the end of 2021, TransLink exceeded the average recovery rate of transit systems in Montreal, Toronto, Washington, D.C., Chicago, and San Francisco. System-wide ridership has continued to grow and is currently at 70 per cent of pre-pandemic levels.

Key 2021 transit trends:

  • There were 224 million boardings on Metro Vancouver’s transit system in 2021
  • There were 2.2 million unique customers on TransLink’s system last year, equivalent to 84% of Metro Vancouver’s population
  • System-wide ridership recovery was greater on weekends than weekdays
  • The Southeast sub-region (Surrey, Langley, White Rock, North Delta) led ridership recovery for Metro Vancouver, reaching 75% recovery in 2021
    • This led to an 8% increase in service for the sub-region in 2021
  • RapidBus routes experienced some of the highest ridership in the region with three routes (R1, R4 and R5) ranking in the top 10 busiest bus routes
  • In Fall of 2021, bus ridership accounted for 63% of TransLink’s total ridership
  • Bus routes serving industrial areas have recovered stronger on average than other routes


HandyDART trends:

Some key findings from the 2021 HandyDART Service Performance Review:

  • 696,000 HandyDART trips were delivered in 2021, up 12% from 2020
  • There was an 11% increase in new HandyDART customers in 2021
  • HandyDART’s strong recovery was led by customers continuing to use the service to access critical health services like dialysis (24% of trips) or medical appointments (22% of trips)
  • HandyDART on-time performance continued to be strong, with 94% of all trips arriving either early or on time

More information:

Read the full Transit Service Performance Review here

Read the HandyDART Service Performance Review here