During its first five days of operation, 45,000 Compass cards were used on the new Evergreen SkyTrain extension, according to early data from TransLink.
“We’ll be studying it more going forward, but it’s off to a pretty good start,” TransLink CEO Kevin Desmond said Thursday after a board of directors meeting, noting the figure is more than the populations of Port Moody, Anmore and Belcarra combined. “A lot of people are trying the system out.”
The Evergreen Line, an 11-kilometre, six-station extension to the Millennium Line, opened to the public last Friday. It runs between Burnaby and Coquitlam, via Port Moody.
From Friday to Tuesday, a total of 45,000 individual Compass cards were used at those six new stations. Desmond said that number could include one person using the line once or one person using the line many times. He said ridership at each of the new stations is “roughly comparable” to the other Millennium Line stations.
“It was … a great opening and I’m utterly convinced that over time it’ll be a big success,” Desmond told the board. It’s expected that by 2021 the line will carry 70,000 passengers daily.
Desmond said one thing that could affect Evergreen Line ridership is significant changes being made to 22 bus routes in the Tri-Cities on Dec. 19 — only seven routes will be unchanged. Though it may take a little time to get used to the new system, the bus changes will help people get to the Evergreen stations earlier, he said. A number of other bus routes will be affected elsewhere in the system as part of the winter transit service changes.
In terms of overall ridership, Desmond told the board that year to date, ridership is up four per cent and at an “all-time high.” He said that earlier in the year indications were that the ridership increase was going to be closer to two per cent, but there was a bump in the fall.
“The demand for our service is very strong,” Desmond said. “It underlines the importance of our plan going ahead.”
The plan to which Desmond was referring is the 10-Year Vision for Metro Vancouver Transit and Transportation scheme, the first phase of which was approved by TransLink’s board of directors and mayors’ council last month.
The total cost of the first phase of the plan is $2 billion, with $370 million coming from the federal government and $246 million from the province for capital costs. TransLink is contributing $1.3 billion in capital and operational funding. Regional funding will come from a number of places, including modest fare and property-tax increases, and a new development-cost charge that has to be approved by the province.
Desmond said he hopes that by this time next year at the latest, TransLink will be in a position to “take action” on the second phase of the plan, which includes two new rapid-transit lines in Vancouver and Surrey.
That depends on funding. It’s expected the federal government will announce its contribution when it releases its budget in 2017. Desmond said the province has committed to funding one third at this point, though further discussions will take place, and the rest will come from regional funding sources.
Source: Vancouver Sun article by Jennifer Saltman (December 8, 2016).