For a long time now, TransLink’s spin doctors have been crying a woeful story that SkyTrain is “jammed packed” and needs more cars. With ridership numbers increasing at a fantastic rate on the metro, Gordon Campbell’s cronies on the TransLink Board approved the purchase of more SkyTrain cars. As well, TransLink and ‘Metro’ region are trying to build the Evergreen SkyTrain Line and a 10 km. extension in Surrey, to cater to burgeoning ridership. But is the ridership on SkyTrain as high as reported? Has TransLink contrived to make the metro look more crowed than it really is?
With the Patullo Bridge fiasco, TransLink predicted a mass of new ridership on transit and particularly on the metro. It didn’t materialize.
He had been expecting a crush as commuters, unable to use the Patullo Bridge following a weekend fire that damaged part of its wooden structure, flocked to SkyTrain.
Ridership was 22 per cent heavier than normal but was handled without any problems to the system, he said.
That was due to the fact SkyTrain ran 59 trains Tuesday and had 200 of its 210 cars in service — the highest proportion of in-service vehicles in the transit company’s history, Hardie said.
“We’ve never had that many in service before. On a normal day we’d have … 160 to 170 cars operating.”
Some problems with the previous statement.
TransLink loves to use percentages, but is reluctant to use real numbers. If weekday ridership is as high as 250,000 passengers a day, as previously claimed by TransLink, a 22% increase would equate to an additional 55,000 riders a day, pushing daily ridership over 305,000 a day. Easy to claim when there is no way to accurately count (no turnstiles at stations, unlike SeaBus) daily ridership on the metro system. Today’s news reports say that transit and SkyTrain’s usage has not increase significantly. Something doesn’t add up.
What is most interesting is the number of cars, on average “160 to 170 cars operating” during peak hours; put another way, 20% to 25% of available cars do not operate during peak hours! Certainly this shows that ridership on SkyTrain is not what has been advertised and that TransLink’s published ridership numbers are ‘stuff and nonsense’.
SkyTrain is not at capacity, during peak hours and the overcrowding on the metro has been contrived by reducing capacity to give the impression of high ridership and the resulting overcrowding. Until TransLink is forced to give independently audited ridership numbers on an annual basis, it will be very hard for advocates for the interurban to enter into any honest debate with TransLink, the Minister and Ministry of Transportation, and regional municipalities, trying to reestablish the interurban. TransLink must be compelled by legislation, under penalty of stiff fines or even jail time for the TransLink Board, to provide honest and accurate transit system statistics.
Only with accurate transit and transportation statistics can we plan for an affordable and user-friendly public transit for the future.