Stephen Rees's blog

Thoughts about the relationships between transport and the urban area it serves

Canadian Transit Ridership Breaks All-Time Record Again In 2006

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Canadian transit ridership for 2006 set a fourth consecutive all-time record, again breaking the previous year’s high. Preliminary results indicate that a total of 1.7 billion transit trips were taken across Canada last year, representing a 3.2 percent increase over 2005, and a 15.8 percent increase over the five-year period since 2001. This marks another significant milestone, representing a trend towards continually increasing transit use.

Which means that I am wrong and more people are switching to transit.

Or does it?

For one thing notice that the data is only about ridership, not about market share. So the increase could be because there are more trips being made – a combination of more people living in urban areas, and growth in employment, which means not only more journeys to work but more journeys overall.

Association president Michael Roschlau says the upward trend is expected to continue partly due to Canadians’ concern about the environment.

Which again is neat: he doesn’t have to say why he thinks the trend has grown, and by putting the verb in the passive tense he is not claiming this opinion as his own. And no doubt we could find a recent poll somewhere that says more Canadians are concerned about the environment. But switching to transit from driving is usually driven by something much more tangible, like getting a tax break on your transit pass. Or seeing parking charges rise again, or your favourite convenient empty lot being developed for condos, so now you have to pay more and walk further.

I suspect the long term trend is because Canada is finally investing in more rapid transit. Edmonton, Toronto and Montreal all extended their systems. As did Vancouver, though here the UPass is probably the biggest influence. And there, the switch came mainly from students switching away from car sharing.

CP illustrated its story with some Toronto street cars. Tiny little pic and copyright too. So here’s one of mine

TTC 4127 on Queen Street at Yonge January 11, 2006

Written by Stephen Rees

June 27, 2007 at 6:47 am

Posted in Transportation

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  1. […] But I’ll be back. Read some heavier thoughts on Canadian transit ridership and market share  by Stephen Rees at his blog. Share this:Share This entry was posted in Uncategorized and tagged streetcar, Toronto, transit […]

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