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Report card calls Metro Vancouver’s transit system second best in nation

Jennifer Saltman, Postmedia Network

Transit users at Surrey Central bus loop and Skytrain station Wednesday, July 26, 2017. (Jason Payne/ PNG)

Transit users at Surrey Central bus loop and Skytrain station Wednesday, July 26, 2017. (Jason Payne/ PNG)

Metro Vancouver has the second best transit system in the nation, according to a transit report card that rates services in six major Canadian regions.

The report card gave Metro Vancouver an overall score of A+, tying the region with Greater Calgary for the second-best grade behind Montreal’s A+++.

Nathan Pachal — a transit researcher, founder of South Fraser OnTrax and Langley City councillor — wrote the report card, which reviewed 23 transit authorities in Greater Calgary, Greater Edmonton, Greater Montreal, Toronto and Hamilton, Metro Vancouver and National Capital (Ottawa/Gatineau). It uses data from 2015, which is the most recent available. This is the third year Pachal has released a transit report card.

“It really brings visibility on how things actually are, because whether you think the service is fantastic or it’s performing subpar it’s good to have that real information that you can use to compare it to the rest of the nation and see how transit service in Canada and Vancouver is doing,” said Pachal.

Metro Vancouver, which has TransLink as its transit authority, moved from an A to an A+ grade this year.

All metrics stayed the same except for operating cost per service hour, which improved from a C to a B. TransLink still has the highest operating cost per service hour ($186.29), but other region’s operating costs have increased at a faster rate than in Metro Vancouver, closing the gap.

The region continues to have the best revenue kilometres per service hour — meaning transit service is slightly faster than in other regions — though the metric has slowly declined over the past three years.

It also has the highest passenger trip intensity grade of all regions measured. Regions with a high score in this area have transit systems that align more closely with transit service demand, meaning they are more efficient.

“Interestingly, TransLink has the highest efficiency score in the nation,” said Pachal.

Only Toronto and Hamilton region has better fare box recovery numbers. In Metro Vancouver, 53 per cent of direct operating expenses are covered by transit users’ fares, versus 64 per cent in Toronto and Hamilton.

Pachal said it will be interesting to see how the grades change when the information from 2016 is available. That’s because the federal government, as well as many provincial governments, began investing last year in projects such as Metro Vancouver’s 10-year plan for transit and transportation.

“This (2015) was sort of the last year of the TransLink-with-no-new-money metrics,” Pachal said. “Next year’s data will show what it’s like since they started to expand service with the approval of the 10 year plan.”