New transit ridership numbers underscore urgency for federal funding appeal: TransLink Mayors’ Council

THE TransLink Mayors’ Council on Thursday discussed a report that showed surging transit ridership over the past year of 20 per cent or more in every part of Metro Vancouver, with overcrowding beginning to approach pre-pandemic levels in many areas.

These pressures are most acute in the fast-growing South of the Fraser region where ridership is now 15 per cent above pre-pandemic levels, outstripping recent increases in bus service of 12 per cent. 

The new data demonstrates the urgency for TransLink’s Access for Everyone plan. Access for Everyone – also known as Transport 2050: Ten-Year Priorities – is the new 10-year plan for expanding public transit and investing in infrastructure to reduce congestion and keep riders, drivers, cyclists and pedestrians moving across Metro Vancouver.

“The year-over-year growth in our region is extremely high and demonstrates the urgency of action needed by governments,” said Port Coquitlam Mayor Brad West, Chair of the TransLink Mayors’ Council. “We had productive conversations in Ottawa last month. Everyone agreed expanding transit is critical to improving quality of life, addressing affordability and meeting emission reduction targets. We are hopeful our federal counterparts will come to the table alongside the Province of BC and local leaders to help make this plan a reality.”

West was part of a delegation of Metro Vancouver mayors who visited Ottawa in May asking the federal government to expedite the delivery of the federal Permanent Transit Fund to 2024 to relieve growing pressures on transit. The delegation met with 22 MPs including the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs, Infrastructure and Communities, Dominic LeBlanc, CPC Leader Pierre Poilievre and NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh.

Earlier this week, West presented to the B.C. legislature’s pre-budget consultation committee, asking the province to continue its partnership with the region and support the mayors’ call for the federal government to accelerate the Permanent Transit Fund and to develop a more sustainable, equitable funding model for public transit.

“With higher use of transit expected this fall, we anticipate that overcrowding will only increase,” said Kevin Quinn, CEO of TransLink. “We are limited in our ability to reduce overcrowding with what we have. We need to expand our infrastructure and add new services now to address current demands and keep up with future growth.”

The Mayors’ Council launched a campaign May 15 to raise awareness about the urgent need for investment in transit and transportation. The campaign highlights how the Access for Everyone plan will bring transit closer to more affordable parts of the region and lower GHG emissions by reducing traffic congestion. In addition to lobbying senior governments, the campaign includes a website, community engagement and media placements to ensure federal decision makers and the region’s residents are familiar with the plan and its benefits.