A lot of the local media has been featuring the 5 most overcrowded bus routes in Metro Vancouver. That’s a nice and easy headline that people can latch onto. However, that data is actual part of a bigger document that TransLink has released. This document is the 2014 TransLink Bus Performance Review [PDF].
There’s one graph in particular that highlights how TransLink has made buses more cost-efficient over the past 5 years.
It’s interesting to read this bar graph of Cost per Boarded Passenger. The two most cost-efficient sub-regions in Metro Vancouver are Vancouver/UBC and Burnaby/New Westminster. They are the only two sub-regions that cost less than $1.50 per boarded passenger to operate the bus routes. We’re not talking about any SkyTrain passengers here. It’s all bus passengers. That’s pretty impressive. It does help that many SkyTrain passengers do eventually become passengers. So the bus system and SkyTrain feed off each other for passengers. Also, the density of the City of Vancouver allows for more customers near important bus routes. Bus routes in Vancouver are mostly travel in straight lines which more efficient that circuitous suburban bus routes. I can’t quite explain why Burnaby is so efficient because a good deal of Burnaby is not a perfect grid like most of Vancouver. However, Burnaby and New Westminster manage to be cost-effective in carrying bus passengers.
On the other end of the scale, the least cost-efficient sub-region to operate buses is the Ladner/South Delta/Tsawwassen area. This sub-region is dominated mostly by farm land and destinations are far apart and not in a straight line. That makes for less efficient bus routes and are costlier to run bus routes. No wonder TransLink has been reluctant to heed Delta’s mayor’s call for more buses in her municipality.
The other trend in the bar graph is that almost all sub-regions except for Vancouver/UBC and the North Shore have become more cost-efficient over the past 5 years. Bus re-allocation has helped to make the bus routes more efficient on a per passenger metric. That’s always a great trend to see over a 5-year period. I think it’s pretty impressive.