TransLink Rise in Ridership: The Busiest Bus Routes and SkyTrain Stations of 2021

TransLink’s annual ridership report, called the Transit Service Performance Review, for 2021 shows that the Metro Vancouver transit system has a stronger ridership recovery than most major systems in Canada and the United States.

By the end of 2021, TransLink’s passenger recovery rate reached 59% of pre-pandemic volumes, outperforming mass transit systems in cities such as Montreal, Toronto, Washington DC, Chicago and San Francisco. As of May 2022, the recovery in passenger numbers has grown further to 70%.

“It’s gratifying to see the commitment of the people of Metro Vancouver to public transportation over the last two difficult years,” said Kevin Quinn, executive director of TransLink, in a statement. “Public transportation has long been at the center of our communities and will continue to be essential to the life, economic growth and tourism of Metro Vancouver.”

TransLink ended 2021 with a total of 224 million boardings, which is the level of annual ridership the system saw in the late 1990s. However, ridership has rebounded considerably since last year: the May 2022 passenger volume is roughly equivalent to the passenger level experienced between 2015 and 2017, with passenger numbers expected to further recover to 80% to 90% of pre-pandemic volumes by the end of 2022.

But the recovery in ridership in 2021 was not equal across transport modes, with buses leading the recovery at a rate of 62% of pre-pandemic volumes. It was followed by HandyDART with 50%, SkyTrain Expo and Millennium Lines with 57%, SkyTrain Canada Line with 54%, SeaBus also with 54% and West Coast Express with 26%.

Systemwide ridership recovery was greater on weekends than weekdays, with the Southeast sub-region (Surrey, Langley, White Rock and North Delta) leading TransLink ridership recovery, reaching 75% .

The Vancouver/UBC sub-region accounts for 47% of the region’s total ridership, but this represents a 6% decrease compared to pre-pandemic 2019. Downtown Vancouver and Central Broadway, this subregion’s ridership recovery of 54% in 2021 was the lowest of any subregion.

Ridership Recovery by Metro Vancouver Subregions, Fall 2021. (TransLink)

translink passenger sub-region statistics 2021

Ridership Recovery by Metro Vancouver Subregions, Fall 2021. (TransLink)

The 99 B-Line remains Metro Vancouver’s busiest bus route, albeit with an average of 29,000 weekday boardings in the fall of 2021, even as students and faculty return to the University of British Columbia campus ( UBC), its ridership remains well below the 2019 pre-pandemic average of 57,000 on weekdays.

In total, seven bus routes serving Vancouver/UBC were among the top 10 busiest routes in the region in fall 2021.

Translink bus passenger statistics 2021

Bus routes with the highest number of passengers in Metro Vancouver, fall 2021. (TransLink)

Last year was also the first full year of operations for Metro Vancouver’s first five RapidBus-branded express routes, following the launch of services in early 2020.

Fall 2021 ridership statistics show that R4 41st Avenue RapidBus, between UBC and Joyce-Collingwood Station, is the busiest RapidBus route and the third busiest bus route in the region, averaging 22,000 boardings on weekdays .

The R2 Marine Drive RapidBus on the North Shore from Park Royal to Phibbs Exchange saw an average of 4,000 boardings on weekdays, while the R3 Lougheed Highway RapidBus from Coquitlam Central Station to Maple Ridge saw an average of 2,000 boardings on weekdays.

translink number of passengers rapidbus statistics 2021

RapidBus ridership, fall 2021. (TransLink)

As for SkyTrain, the 10 busiest stations in the fall of 2021 were mostly the same compilation as the busiest stations in 2019.

The Waterfront, Metrotown, Commercial-Broadway, Burrard, and Granville stations continue to be the busiest. But the Vancouver city center station fell from sixth busiest in 2019 to eighth in the fall of 2021, while Joyce-Collingwood station, likely with the help of the R4 RapidBus, rose from ninth in 2019 to sixth in the fall of 2021.

Stadium-Chinatown and Main Street-Science World stations dropped out of the top 10 in the fall of 2021, pushing Surrey Central and King George stations into the top 10: 9th busiest and 10th busiest, respectively.

Waterfront Station recorded an average shipping volume of 18,000 per weekday in the fall of 2021, which is down from 41,600 in 2019.

Metrotown and Commercial-Broadway stations’ average 15,000 weekday boardings each in the fall of 2021 is also well below the 2019 weekday average of 26,000 and 25,000, respectively.

With fewer office workers and tourists, the Burrard and Granville stations saw fall 2021 average weekday boardings of 12,000 and 11,000, respectively, down from 25,000 and 20,300, respectively, in 2019.

The Vancouver City Center station’s average weekday boardings in the fall of 2021 stood at 9,000, which is about 50% of what the station saw in 2019.

translink skytrain passenger statistics 2021

SkyTrain stations with the highest number of passengers, fall 2021. (TransLink)

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