Mayors and community leaders invite Metro Vancouver residents to show their support for more transit

January 10, 2024

(Vancouver, B.C.) – The TransLink Mayors’ Council has launched a new campaign in partnership with community leaders, calling on residents of Metro Vancouver to ask governments to fund urgent transit expansion in the region.

New advertisements at SkyTrain stations, bus stops and on social media provide a link where residents can easily send a letter to their local MLAs, MPs, Ministers of Finance and Ministers responsible for infrastructure funding, simply by entering their email and postal code. The letter reads, in part:

“As a Metro Vancouver resident, I’m concerned that our region doesn’t have enough public transit to serve our growing communities… If we don’t act now, thousands of people will be left behind by full buses every day and new housing will be left unserved… I urge you in your role as an elected official to ensure the necessary funding commitments are made – now – to protect public transit as an essential service and keep our economy and residents moving.”

Supporters of the campaign include the Surrey Board of Trade, HUB Cycling, Simon Fraser Student Society and the AMS Student Society of UBC, with additional organizations expected to join the campaign in the coming weeks.

Transit ridership in Metro Vancouver continues to rise, with post-pandemic ridership recovery in this region now at more than 90 per cent, surpassing all other major transit systems in Canada and the United States, including New York, Toronto, Montreal and Miami. Transit service levels have remained frozen since the beginning of the pandemic. Overcrowding on the system has now surpassed the previous records set in 2019 – when TransLink’s service was expanding every year, and with population growth half of what it is today – with more than a quarter of rush-hour trips in Vancouver and Surrey overcrowded and set to worsen four-to-five times by 2025 without additional service.  

The Mayors’ Council has unanimously approved the initial phase of the Access for Everyone transit expansion plan, which TransLink is ready to start rolling out in mid-2024 if funding can be secured by April. It includes the finalizing of planning for three new Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) projects, expansion of TransLink’s bus fleet and additional bus depot capacity, active transportation and road safety projects, and new bus service starting in September 2024 focused on the most critical off-peak overcrowding hotspots around the region.

Last week, TransLink launched the new R6 Rapid Bus service in Surrey, which is the final project from its previous expansion plan, the 10-Year Vision. As ridership surges across the region, no further expansion of transit service will occur until regional, provincial and federal governments commit funding for the new Access for Everyone plan.

With funding and partnership from the Province of BC, TransLink bounced back from the pandemic faster than any other big city transit system in North America. But Metro Vancouver now needs to launch forward. This campaign is designed to help residents tell the Federal Government it’s time for them to step up, and to let the BC Government know the region needs their continued support to keep expanding its transit system.

The public is encouraged to visit to voice their support for improving transit service.


“Metro Vancouver’s transit services are essentially frozen at 2019 levels even as the region’s population has grown by almost 200,000 between 2019 and 2023. With the Access for Everyone plan we can deliver new Bus Rapid Transit lines and a doubling of bus service to support growth, affordability and climate action, with benefits for everyone in the region. The Mayors’ Council has appreciated its strong partnership with the Government of BC to help TransLink recover from the pandemic but it is up to all three levels of government to finalize a funding strategy for future transit expansion, and we must do so now.”

Mayor Brad West, Chair of the TransLink Mayors’ Council

“Together, we have tackled the challenge of the pandemic to transit funding and ridership recovery better than anywhere in North America. But as Metro Vancouver grows we are seeing a transit system that is struggling to meet demand. The Province has been a strong funding partner with TransLink and looks forward to being a part of the next chapter of transit solutions that delivers expanded, sustainable service in the region based on cooperation between all levels of government.”

The Honourable Rob Fleming, Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure

“The Mayors’ Council has been warning of the need for expanded transit service for the region. Running a major transit system at 2019 levels does not work with the growth Metro is experiencing. That is why we are calling on residents to let their government officials know that more transit service is needed now.”

Mayor Brenda Locke, Mayor of the City of Surrey

“The Surrey Board of Trade fully supports the call for expanded transit services. Our local businesses are intricately linked to the vitality of our region, and a well-functioning public transit system is critical for their success. The Access for Everyone plan is not just about improving convenience for residents; it’s an economic imperative. With our population growth and the resurgence of post-pandemic transit ridership, businesses are already feeling the strain of frozen service levels.”

Jasroop Gosal, Policy & Research Manager of the Surrey Board of Trade

“To align with both federal and provincial targets of significantly lowering emissions by 2030, all levels of government must reform fiscal planning policies so that funding aligns with sustainable mode-share targets, prioritizing a reliable and efficient transit system that connects seamlessly with a safe, connected, active transportation network. Moving ahead with the Access for Everyone plan in Metro Vancouver is a critical next step.”

Laura Jane, Executive Director, HUB Cycling

“For a student navigating the challenges of commuting from south of the Fraser, transit expansion symbolizes more than a solution; it’s a commitment to enhancing our educational journey. The Access for Everyone plan is critical to guaranteeing affordable, reliable access to SFU’s three diverse campuses. It is pivotal in connecting beneficial co-op and employment opportunities throughout the Lower Mainland, encouraging a more interconnected and dynamic student experience.”

Nancy Brar, Vice President External & Community Affairs, Simon Fraser Student Society

“The Alma Mater Society of UBC Vancouver strongly supports the Mayors’ Council’s campaign to call upon all levels of government to increase funding for public transportation in the GVA. As the representative of 61,000+ UBC Vancouver students, post-secondary students deserve to be well-connected across the GVA as it is intrinsically tied to the housing and affordability crisis that seriously and adversely affects students. With the UBC Point-Grey Campus being connected to three of some of the busiest bus lines in the GVA as well as plans for the Skytrain to UBC being a part of TransLink’s Transport 2050 Vision, governments need, now more than ever, to fund our public transportation system.”

Joshua Kim, Vice President External Affairs, AMS Student Society of UBC

About the Mayors’ Council on Regional Transportation

The Mayors’ Council is the collective voice of Metro Vancouver residents on transit and transportation. Our members include representatives from each of the 21 municipalities in TransLink’s service area, as well as Electoral Area ‘A’ and the Tsawwassen First Nation. It is responsible for approving TransLink’s transportation plans, identifying local funding and negotiating with other levels of government to make those plans a reality.

Media Contact: Anna Lilly, Earnscliffe Strategies,  604-505-9048

TransLink Ridership Backgrounder

January 10, 2023

Rapid ridership growth

TransLink’s ridership recovery continues to lead all major transit agencies in Canada and the U.S. This includes places like New York, Montreal, Toronto, Chicago, Boston, and San Francisco. According to the American Public Transit Authority (APTA), our SkyTrain has the fourth-most boardings of any subway system in Canada and the US, despite having the 22nd largest population.

In some parts of the region, ridership is 20% higher than it was in 2019, and ridership on some busy routes have more than doubled over the same period, leaving thousands of customers waiting in long line-ups to board overcrowded trains and buses.

Most Overcrowded Routes

Data from October 2023:

RouteOvercrowding Rate
393 Newton Exchange / Surrey Central Station38%
25 Brentwood Station / UBC38%
321 White Rock / Newton / Surrey Central Station37%
345 King George Station / White Rock Centre37%
49 Metrotown Station / Dunbar Loop / UBC35%
323 Newton Exchange / Surrey Central Station33%
335 Newton Exchange / Surrey Central Station31%
324 Newton Exchange / Surrey Central Station29%
99 Commercial-Broadway / UBC (B-Line)28%
319 Scott Station / Newton Exchange / Scottsdale27%

Overcrowding worst south of the Fraser

Ridership patterns are different depending on where in the region you are. In places like Surrey and Langley, bus ridership is exceeding pre-pandemic volumes at 120 per cent of 2019 levels. Since 2020, TransLink has increased bus service in the Southeast Subregion by 25 per cent. When service has been added to overcrowded routes, ridership has continued to grow even more. Through the Access for Everyone expansion plan, TransLink will bring more rapid transit to Surrey and Langley, including two new BRT lines to service these communities.

Need for new funding

TransLink has done all that it can to balance service throughout the region with the resources available. Now service must be expanded in order to avoid overcrowding becoming worse. 

Revenues generated through the current funding model are not enough to expand service. TransLink has reallocated service from routes with lower ridership to routes with higher ridership, but there’s only so much it can do with the operational funding available. There are now very few routes where TransLink can reallocate service without significantly impacting other customers. 

Federal investments

The Government of Canada has made historic investments in TransLink since 2015 totaling over $4 billion, $2 billion of which has been invested since 2021.

This includes $2.2 billion through the Investing in Canada Infrastructure Program (ICIP), a $1.3 billion investment in the Surrey Langley Skytrain project, and an annual contribution through the Canada Community Building Fund of over $140 million.

The Government of Canada is working closely with the TransLink Mayors Council and looks forward to announcing more details on Permanent Public Transit funding in the coming months.