I’ve been looking for Canadian mode share numbers that are more recent than 2006; although there was a census in 2011, it apparently did not include such numbers. However, a separate survey regarding commuting was published a year ago, using data from 2010. Mode shares are only included in Toronto, Vancouver, and Montreal, and those are listed separately for the city and the suburbs rather than for the whole metro area, but we can take a weighted average of population; it’s not perfect because the employment rate in the suburbs may be different from in the city, but it’s very close.
The result: Toronto’s transit mode share in 2010 was 22%, Montreal’s was 24%, and Vancouver’s was 21%. The Toronto number is the same as the numbers in 1996, 2001, and 2006. The Montreal number is a bit higher than past-decade numbers. And the Vancouver number compares with 14.3% in 1996 and 16.5% in 2006 (it was 11.5% in 2001, but there was a bus strike when the census was conducted).
Put another way, Vancouver gained 4.5 percentage points of transit mode share between 2006 and 2010. Judging by the opening of the Canada Line and its relatively high ridership, this is indeed plausible and doesn’t have to be a statistical artifact, though I’ll still want to see numbers a few years from now to confirm the new trend. If the trend holds, it’s over 11 percentage points per decade, enough to make Vancouver the metro area with the largest transit mode share by about 2019. It’s a similar rate of increase to what I included in my April Fool’s post for the US at large, intended to be at or beyond the outer limit of what is plausible if everything is done perfectly. Previously, I’d thought 3-5 points per decade were the best possible in Canada and Australia.
This means Translink has made major success with revival, as opposed to merely retaining old mode share by getting people who previously couldn’t afford a car to stick with transit even as they enter the middle class. If instead it is just an artifact of the Canada Line’s opening, then it suggests Vancouver will continue to do well in the next ten years, as the Evergreen Line and hopefully the UBC extension open. The Millennium Line opened in 2002 and so figures into the 1996-2006 increase, but its ridership is 80,000 a day, versus 110,000 on the Canada Line and an estimated 146,000 on the UBC extension and 70,000 on the Evergreen Line.