TransLink sees highest jump in ridership since start of pandemic

TRANSLINK said on Thursday that it is experiencing its highest boost in ridership in 18 months, as people return to their offices and students to classrooms.

The four weekdays after Labour Day brought the largest jump in ridership since March 2020, with an average increase of 17% when compared to an average weekday in August. There were approximately 120,000 more average weekday boardings system-wide than the week before. An increase in ridership is typical for early September, but the back-to-school bump in 2021 is five percentage points larger than the 12% increases in 2019 and 2018.

System-wide boardings are at about 55% of pre-COVID ridership. Ridership varies by mode, location and destination, with post-secondary routes leading the recovery.

* Routes serving post-secondary institutions made strong gains towards pre-COVID ridership levels over the first week of in-person classes including Route 49 Metrotown Station/Dunbar Loop (71%), Route 145 SFU/Production Station (55%) and Route 25 Brentwood Station/UBC (62%).

* Routes serving industrial areas have recovered to near pre-COVID ridership levels including Routes 418 Kingswood/22nd Street Station and 175 Coquitlam Central Station/Meridian (95%), and Routes 531 White Rock Centre/Willowbrook and 640 Ladner Exchange/Scott Road Station (90%).
* Ridership return continues to be strongest in the southeast part of the region, with bus ridership in this area at 66% of pre-COVID levels. TransLink believes this is, in part, due to a higher percentage of frontline workers.

“The early data we are seeing with students now back to in-class learning at the post-secondary level is very encouraging,” said TransLink CEO Kevin Quinn. “I’m optimistic about ridership growth as we move into the fall. We are seeing people eager to get back into routines of work and school and we hope people make transit their first choice in getting to and from their daily activities.”

TransLink says that this positive data comes as TransLink launches its ‘Ride On’ marketing campaign which encourages more customers to choose transit as they return to their regular fall routines. The brightly-coloured Reconnect Bus will be touring the city and making stops at many post-secondary institutions. Customers can jump on board the bus to learn more about what’s new and improved on transit and the many ways TransLink is keeping the system safe.

TransLink says that transit has been a safe and reliable way to get around the region throughout the pandemic. It continues to work closely with provincial health officials to ensure its Safe Operating Action Plan reflects current public health advice. TransLink says it will continue to add more initiatives to the Reconnect Campaign throughout the year to further encourage and welcome customers back to transit.