British Columbia

Bike riding up 26% in Metro Vancouver says TransLink

Bicycle use is up 26 per cent over the last three years in Metro Vancouver while bus trips are up 17 per cent, according to figures released by TransLink.

Changing transportation choices creating funding challenge for TransLink

A cyclist is silhouetted against the North Shore mountains while riding through Vancouver's Stanley Park. (Jonathan Hayward/The Canadian Press)

Bicycle use is up 26 per cent over the last three years in Metro Vancouver while bus trips are up 17 per cent, according to figures released by TransLink.

The figures, which were included in the 2013 Base Plan are good news, according to Vancouver Coun. Geoff Meggs, who notes car use only increased by four per cent over the same period – far less that the population increase of six per cent.

The news comes as the City of Vancouver considers proposals to add more bike lanes to the Cambie and Granville Bridges. 

But Meggs cautions since TransLink is dependent on revenue from a fuel tax, the shift in transportation use by Metro Vancouver residents also means less money to pay for new transportation infrastructure projects.

"Translink has been running into serious trouble because of a decline in revenue from fuel tax. And if we see the demand for transit go up while the revenue from fuel tax goes down, we've obviously got a good news - bad news situation," said Meggs.

"The good news is more people are using more sustainable transportation options, but the bad news is we have less money to fund them," he said.

"We're in a very important turning point, probably, in how we plan our transportation system.

Meggs says it is time to look at other options to pay for transit, such as a vehicle levy, or an incremental carbon tax.

"The bottom line is we're going to have to find the resources because the public is making it clear with these numbers and in a whole bunch of other places that they want rapid transit investment."

He notes the decline in fuel consumption is not limited to Metro Vancouver, citing a recent Seattle study that found the fuel consumption in Pacific Northwest has dropped to 1996 levels.