Skip to content

Overcrowding on Metro Vancouver transit back to pre-pandemic levels

Around 8 per cent of buses overstuffed in 2023, TransLink says
Transit riders collectively took 233.3 million trips in 2023, according to TransLink’s 2023 performance review. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

About eight per cent of weekday bus trips through Metro Vancouver were overcrowded last year, in what TransLink says represents a return to pre-pandemic transit woes.

The transportation authority released its 2023 performance review on Monday (April 29), in which it called for long-term funding from provincial and federal governments to keep up with an ever-increasing ridership.

TransLink says riders collectively took 233.3 million trips in 2023, a leap up from 193.6 million in 2022, although still lower than the 272.4 million trips recorded in 2019. While not fully returned to pre-pandemic levels, TransLink says overcrowding issues are back.

“It has become clear that transit service is struggling to keep up (with) population growth, and without future investment, this problem will only worsen,” TransLink CEO Kevin Quinn said in the review.

According to B.C. Stats, Metro Vancouver’s population increased by 88,042 people between 2022 and 2023. It’s projected to hit more than three million by the end of 2024. Translink says more than 50 per cent of commuters in the region tend to choose transit as their primary transportation method.

Ridership is the highest in the Vancouver/UBC region, making up 46 per cent of all riders, and Surrey/Langley, making up 19 per cent of riders. It’s the lowest in Maple Ridge/Pitt Meadows, where transit riders make up one per cent of overall TransLink users.

The top three most overcrowded buses in 2023 were Route 49 Metrotown/UBC, Route 321 Surrey Central/White Rock and Route 335 Newton/Surrey Central.

“If current trends continue, overcrowding on our transit system will double in Surrey and increase 2.5 times in Vancouver by the fall of 2025,” TransLink concluded in its performance review.

B.C. announced an additional $300 million in funding for the transportation authority in April, which Transportation Minister Rob Fleming said will be used to purchase more buses and reduce crowding. The province also said TransLink would be using the remainder of the $479 million B.C. provided it in 2023 to make more immediate improvements.

Brad West, chair of the mayors’ council on regional transportation, said at the time that a longer-term funding model will be needed to keep up with population growth and allow for expansion.

READ ALSO: $300M TransLink boost aimed at fixing transit issues in B.C. Lower Mainland

-With files from The Canadian Press

About the Author: Jane Skrypnek

I'm a provincial reporter for Black Press Media.
Read more