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Metro Vancouver bridges see surge in traffic as transit ridership remains low

Last Updated Sep 4, 2020 at 9:37 pm PDT


As the economy continues to reopen amid the COVID-19 pandemic, traffic volumes are up, but transit ridership remains low

TransLink says traffic volume on Golden Ears, Knight Street, and Pattullo bridges close to pre-pandemic levels

Transit ridership still about 40 per cent of pre-pandemic use

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – Traffic volumes on three Lower Mainland bridges are basically back to pre-pandemic levels, but transit use continues to lag behind.

It comes as no surprise that fewer cars were crossing the Golden Ears, Knight Street, and Pattullo bridges at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, as businesses shuttered and people were urged to stay home in an effort to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

Newly released figures from TransLink shows that on Mar. 27, traffic was down an average 58 per cent on all three crossings compared to the same time last year.

“Since then and since the reopening of the economy in June, we’ve steadily seen congestion continue to grow on Metro Vancouver bridges,” Gabrielle Price, who speaks for TransLink, says. “Specifically the Golden Ears, right now we’re seeing traffic levels near normal for the same time last year.”

TransLink says traffic volumes on the Golden Ears, Knight Street, and Pattullo bridges has been growing at an average rate of 0.34 per cent per weekday. (Courtesy TransLink)

By the week of Aug. 24, volumes had returned to 93 per cent of pre-COVID levels, she adds.

“Ultimately, we really just want people to see the fact that Metro Vancouver congestion is continuing to grow, it’s nearing normal levels, and we want to let drivers know that transit continues to be a viable, safe alternative to sitting in your car,” Price explains.

However, despite more people heading out, Price says transit ridership is at about 40 per cent of pre-pandemic use.

As TransLink continues to spread the message that transit is still a safe and viable alternative to driving, Price says the transit authority continues to see numbers rise.

“Once the economy continues to grow, once we see back to school going in next week, employers may be bringing staff back to offices, we also expect these bridge traffic numbers to continually increase, perhaps nearing normal pre-COVID levels or even higher,” she tells NEWS 1130.

“We want to make it really clear that the system is safe. TransLink has put in a number of safety measures, including our recent introduction of the mandatory mask policy on all of our transit vehicles.”

Ministry data shows similar trend

TransLink’s figures come just days after B.C.’s Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure released its own traffic data.

Those numbers show a similar trend — traffic congestion is increasing on Metro Vancouver’s roads, but transit ridership isn’t rebounding as quickly.

That’s led to some concern that the region may be missing an opportunity to make positive, lasting change to transportation habits.

The ministry’s research looked at various major commuter routes around the region, unlike TransLink’s new report, which specifically looked at the three Metro Vancouver bridges aforementioned, which the transit authority is responsible for.