Skip to content

Managing the Transit Network

On this page

    We regularly review and adjust our transit services as the region’s needs evolve. Doing so enables us to better serve our customers throughout Metro Vancouver. We're continually working to serve more people, provide new connections, and reduce overcrowding within our current resources.

    Managing the transit network involves developing policies, guidelines, and performance indicators for transit service. We apply this guidance in developing, evaluating, and implementing transit service changes.

    Network Design Objectives

    A bus parked at a bus bay in front of a SkyTrain station on a bright and sunny day

    TransLink manages and invests in the regional transit network with the assumption that public transit offers a wide range of benefits to the people who live in Metro Vancouver

    To achieve these benefits, we follow three simple objectives when designing and managing the transit network:

    • Maximize ridership

    • Encourage long-term ridership growth

    • Provide access to transit service across the region

    All three objectives are important, but sometimes trade-offs must be made. Making these decisions is where we ask for input and guidance from our partners and the public.

    Maximizing ridership involves meeting existing demand for transit service. Services designed to build ridership tend to target areas that have many people working or living in proximity, such as a downtown core, an urban centre, or along a well-developed corridor.

    We maximize ridership by:

    1. Providing reliable and predictable service.

    2. Providing more and/or better service where there is already high ridership or overcrowding.

    3. Providing service where there is anticipated to be high ridership, typically where there is some mix of:

      • higher residential or commercial density

      • major activity centres

      • pedestrian networks that make walking easy and pleasant

      • measures that discourage driving, such as limited or expensive parking

    4. Using existing transit infrastructure as efficiently as possible, such as transit priority measures, rapid transit lines, and bus exchanges.

    5. Improving the way people make transit connections so they can reach more destinations in less time.

    Encouraging long-term ridership growth involves building capacity to meet future demand for transit service. We make long-term strategic investments that will gradually grow ridership by supporting transit-oriented development.

    We encourage long-term ridership growth by:

    1. Providing transit service to major new development areas where we expect strong ridership growth.

    2. Providing frequent, all-day service along key corridors to encourage development of communities whose design makes good use of transit resources.

    3. Informing developers and municipalities about the likely service and mobility outcomes of various land use and development options.

    4. Limiting service expansion in areas where transit services are unlikely to be efficient or productive, such as remote or hard to serve areas, or where population is unlikely to grow.

    Providing access to transit service across the region involves maximizing the transit network coverage and ensuring a basic level of service is available to most people for most kinds of trips. Part of our mandate is to serve the needs of people who depend on transit due to age, disability, or other limitations. Given limited financial resources, we must make difficult decisions about how to meet our mandate, while also providing service where demand is greatest, and we can expect high ridership. In some places, we simply can’t provide public transit in a reasonably efficient way. Instead, people in these areas may have to rely on other modes of transportation.

    TransLink provides access to transit service across the region by:

    1. Providing basic, low-frequency transit service in areas of lower density where possible.

    2. Ensuring our services are fully accessible to people of all ages and abilities.

    Network Design Themes

    The way we address our Network Design Objectives varies depending on the individual context, including the local street network, topography and transit ridership. Ridership is influenced, among other factors, by land use, street connectivity, and proximity to major activities centres. These considerations inform how we design the transit network to best serve customers across the region.

    When considering how to design the transit network to best serve customers across the region, we design with key themes in mind: network integration, versatility, efficiency and productivity and partnerships and collaboration.

    Network integration diagram

    For the best mobility, locate where transit service is most frequent.

    Transit ridership grows the most in places where more customers live and where there are more destinations that they want to reach. Because of this, denser, mixed-use developments with walkable streets can support higher levels of transit service. TransLink works with our municipal partners and other stakeholders to ensure the coordination of land use and transportation planning so that development can be served with more frequent transit service.

    Specialized transit is less effective transit.

    We try to design services that are versatile to enable freedom of movement for a diverse range of people and trips.

    Efficient transit allows us to provide more transit.

    We work to serve as many customers as possible with the budget we have. We do this by matching service with the times and places that customers want to use the system.

    For the best mobility, locate where transit service is most frequent.

    Transit ridership doesn’t grow simply because we add more service. Development affects ridership demand and supports higher levels of transit service. We work with our municipal partners and other stakeholders to ensure the coordination of land use and transportation planning so that development patterns support an efficient and productive transit network.

    2019 Transit Service Performance Review

    People boarding a bus underneath the SkyTrain rail on a summer day

    The Transit Service Performance Review (TSPR) is published annually and provides a comprehensive review of ridership and service productivity for bus, SeaBus, SkyTrain, West Coast Express, and HandyDART. It helps us identify opportunities to reduce overcrowding, improve performance and reliability, and meet the needs of our customers as the region continues to grow.

    In 2019, our region reached a record of 452.9 million boardings, while ridership grew 3.6 per cent systemwide. This was largely the result of smart planning, strong municipal collaboration, significant service investments, and a sustained focus on improving customer experience. This is a success story for our entire region.

    Highlights of our success in 2019 include ridership growth on all modes of transit:

    • Bus boardings increased by 3.8%

    • SeaBus boardings increased by 1.2%

    • SkyTrain boardings increased by 3.2%

    • West Coast Express boardings increased by 4.9%

    • HandyDART boardings increased by 5.7%

    The 2019 TSPR will be instrumental as we map out our blueprint for ridership recovery in 2020 and beyond, while continuing to work towards our region’s shared goal of sustainable transportation.

    What's the difference between a boarding and a journey?

    Boardings are measured as each time a passenger enters a fare paid zone using Compass fare media or other proof of payment; transfers are counted as additional boardings.

    Journeys are measured as a complete transit trip using Compass fare media or other proof of payment, regardless of the number of transfers.

    When you download this data, you are agreeing to TransLink's data license. Please note that bus CSV files do not contain discontinued routes.

    Bus & SeaBus Data

    SkyTrain & West Coast Express Data

    HandyDART Data

    2019 HandyDART Service Performance Review

    A HandyDART shuttle bus parked outside with the front door swung open

    The 2019 HandyDART Service Performance Review is the first standalone review of HandyDART service. This review is sharing the information that advises HandyDART transit planning and investment.

    Highlights of the Review include that in 2019, HandyDART delivered trips to 1.56 million customers with high ratings:

    • Customer ratings for both HandyDART and for Supplemental Taxi were high on the following measures:

      • Availability: 8.6/10

      • On-time, reliable: 8.0/10

      • Ease of booking a trip: 8.5/10

      • Cleanliness and good repair of the vehicles: 9.3/10

    This review is a benchmark for future HandyDART Service Performance Reviews, providing criteria to measure the growth and improvement of the service.

    While the data in the report is not reflective of HandyDART today, we expect demand to continue to grow as the population of the region ages. We're looking at ways to modernize the service and improve the customer experience, beginning in 2021.

    Read the report

    Transit Network Review

    The Transit Network Review process is a part of our ongoing management of the network. It is a key component in how we identify where to put services to support areas of high ridership, provide transit options in growing areas, and deliver a basic level of transit access across Metro Vancouver

    With the approval of Phase Two of the Mayors' 10-Year Vision and the reallocation of current resources, we have an opportunity to deliver on more and better service across the region.

    Proposed transit network changes for 2020 and 2021 focus on:

    • Delivering service in new areas outlined in the Phase Two of the 10-Year Vision

    • Modifying existing routes to reduce overcrowding and improve reliability

    Consultation for the 2019 Transit Network Review took place in April and October 2019. Read the 2019 Transit Network Review Final Report for details.

    Mobility Pricing

    Mobility pricing refers to the suite of fees for using everyday transportation services. These include tools like transit fares, bridge tolls, road usage charges, and fees for any other services involved in the movement of people and goods.

    The Mobility Pricing Independent Commission was a group of 14 Metro Vancouver representatives from a variety of organization across the region. They were selected and tasked by the TransLink Board of Directors and the Mayors’ Council on Regional Transportation to evaluate and make recommendations on how to develop and implement a regional road usage charging policy and system, and assess the implications for pricing of other types of transport and mobility.

    Between July 2017 and May 2018, the Mobility Pricing Independent Commission led the It’s Time project, an extensive research and engagement project that studied ways to reduce congestion, promote fairness, and support continued investment in transportation. This included engagement with more than 17,000 Metro Vancouver residents through:

    • Online engagement;

    • In-person meetings with nearly 200 stakeholders and elected officials; and

    • Three workshops with a 15-member user advisory panel representative of Metro Vancouver’s diverse population and geography.

    In May 2018, the Commission shared their findings with the Mayors’ Council and TransLink Board of Directors in a joint meeting. In the report a set of principles to follow were identified when designing mobility pricing in Metro Vancouver. Two concepts which were explored were also shared in the report:

    • A regional congestion point charge with charge points at, or close to, some or all of the regionally important crossings, complemented by further point charges at locations within the Burrard Peninsula; and,

    • A distance-based charge with two or more zones with varying charge rates throughout Metro Vancouver.

    Both concepts show promising results, and they will require more analysis, including further study of the potential for decongestion charging to coordinate with transit fares and other forms of mobility pricing. The Commission is also recommending further assessment of affordability and equity impacts, an assessment of available technology for distance-based charging, and a study of impacts for business, particularly transport-intensive businesses.


    Sorry, your website browser is no longer supported.

    Upgrade to one of these browsers to visit