People are getting on a bus at a higher rate in Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows than the rest of the Lower Mainland, according to TransLink’s latest review of routes.
The number of boardings per hour jumped 56 per cent in four years, the highest rate of increase in any TransLink area.
That’s likely due to more frequency being offered by the two busiest routes into Maple Ridge, the No. 701 and No. 791, connecting to Coquitlam and New Westminster.
The details were in the 2012 Bus Service Performance Review, which also shows that the yearly number of hours of bus service in Pitt Meadows-Maple Ridge has remained unchanged at 87,000 in the past four years.
Only Ladner-South Delta-Tsawwassen has fewer hours of bus service, at 57,000 hours.
Statistics for the No. 791, which runs from Haney Place Mall to Braid SkyTrain, shows an increase of 132,000 riders in two years, up to just under 600,000 riders a year in 2012.
That dropped the cost per passenger on that route to $2.64 from $3.12.
On the No. 701 line, which runs from Haney Place Mall to Coquitlam Centre, the number of passengers for all of last year grew by about 111,000, to about two million riders.
The cost per passenger, as a result, dropped to $1.96 in 2012 from $2.07 in 2010.
By comparison, the cost per passenger along the C48 community shuttle route to Whonnock rings in $7.84.
Maple Ridge Mayor Ernie Daykin said frequency on the No. 701 and 791 routes have increased due to 15-minute service for 15 hours a daily.
He was curious about ridership on the No. 595, which brings people from Maple Meadows West Coast Express station to the Carvolth park and ride in Langley, where people can catch express buses across the new Port Mann Bridge.
Ridership on that route has jumped by more than 100,000 in the past two years, to 414,000 in 2012, following the opening of the new bridge. Cost per passenger dropped in the same period to $2.43 from $5.42.
Daykin still wants area mayors to help figure out how to help Maple Ridge get express bus service, carrying people from Haney Place Mall to Coquitlam Centre or Braid SkyTrain with only a few stops along Lougheed Highway in Pitt Meadows and Coquitlam. That would shave 15 to 20 minutes off the current route times, which require diverting through Pitt Meadows.
People also want community shuttle service to Silver Valley, at the north end of 232nd Street, and better service in Albion.
“I think the reality is, we still don’t have enough density to put community shuttles up there [Silver Valley],” Daykin said.
Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows, which don’t have the population or density of the major cities, are still lagging in reducing the costs of public transportation to taxpayers.
Overall, for 2012, the real cost per passenger was $2.13 in Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows, $1.92 in the Tri-Cities, and $1.84 in North Delta-Surrey-Langley-White Rock.
Vancouver had the lowest costs of $1.08 to carry the average passenger.
The review shows the total number of bus trips taken per hour increased 3.4 per cent, while the average cost per trip dropped by 2.2 per cent, confirming TransLink’s work to optimize bus service.
Most of the 25 poorest performing suburban bus routes are served with community shuttles, and include two in Ladner, two in Tsawwassen, two in Richmond/Queensborough and one each in Maple Ridge, Pitt Meadows and Lions Bay.
Part of the efficiencies considered last year was cutting the C-49, which runs down 272nd Street to Whonnock.
But TransLink is maintaining that and is changing the C-48 by hooking into Albion along McClure Drive and connecting to the Port Haney West Coast Express station.