Passengers packed into SkyTrain during the 2010 Winter Olympics.

Passengers packed into SkyTrain during the 2010 Winter Olympics.

Rise in transit use called Olympic legacy

Ridership up 7.8 per cent excluding Games

The 2010 Winter Olympics spurred more Metro Vancouver residents to try transit and a good number have stayed on board.

TransLink says its total transit ridership climbed 7.8 per cent in 2010 compared to 2009, after factoring out the Games month of February.

That’s a big jump from annual transit ridership increases of perhaps two or three per cent in past years.

The launch of the Canada Line just before the Games was a key part of the change and the Olympics proved a perfect chance for riders to try out the new Richmond-Vancouver line.

“The Olympics showed the people of Metro Vancouver what their system can do,” CEO Ian Jarvis said. “It’s gratifying to see that so many of them have stayed.”

Transportation was counted as a major victory for the Games and TransLink.

Motorists were warned of road and parking restrictions and urged to park and take the greatly enhanced transit service downtown.

Olympic event-goers got transit included in the price of their tickets and TransLink has continued to explore that type of option with other partners.

During the Olympics, the transit system here carried a daily average of 1.58 million trips – 40 per cent more passengers than a typical weekday.

Bus use actually declined by 1.2 per cent or about 2.4 million fewer trips.

But TransLink officials say that decrease was due to the switch of bus riders from the former 98 B Line to the Canada Line.

A total of 38.4 million people took the new rapid transit line last year.

It passed 100,000 daily riders last May – three years ahead of schedule – and is now running at around 110,000 each weekday.

About 40 per cent of Canada Line users connect from South of Fraser bus routes or crosstown routes in Vancouver while 60 per cent use it for their entire trip.

The West Coast Express was also up 6.1 per cent in 2010 to nearly 2.8 million, mainly due to midday trips added during the Olympics. The WCE was up 3.3 per cent when the Olympics are discounted.

That’s evidence passengers will embrace extra service when it’s added, TransLink said.

WCE can’t yet add midday runs, but new rail cars acquired late in 2010 allow longer trains and more available seats.

West Vancouver Transit marked a 6.4 per cent gain in ridership from 2009 once the Olympic month was discounted.