Key Markets & Factors
Transit Business Plan Update
3.0 KEY MARKETS AND FACTORS AFFECTING TRANSIT
Two week passenger counts (Oct. 2000 and March 2001)
Two week passenger counts are taken twice per year in Nanaimo. Some of the key findings of the most recent counts:
Average Weekday Ridership Trends
- Total weekday ridership averaged 8,145 in October 2000, up significantly from 7,010 in March 2000 and 6,787 in November 1999. Ridership is up for all time periods with the strongest percentage increase during the evening period.
- Ridership is up for all passenger groups, with the strongest increases among adults and students.
- The #1 Rutherford and #4 Bowen Road routes experienced ridership growth above the system average and remain the most used routes. Growth on the #6 Harewood, #11 Cedar, #15 College Express, and #21 Woodgrove Connector routes was also well above the system average.
Public Opinion Survey (April 2000)
A public opinion survey of both transit users and non-users in the Nanaimo Region was undertaken in April 2000. Some of the key results include the following:
On-Board Passenger Survey (December 1999)
- Nanaimo residents were more likely than residents of other communities to agree that they would use the bus more if the service was more frequent.
- Like other BC residents, those in the Nanaimo see the major benefit of using transit to be that it is less expensive than a private vehicle. Only 10% see the major benefit to be that it is more socially or environmentally responsible.
- 17% of residents report having taken transit in the last week, the highest proportion for any of the systems studied. 9% of Nanaimo employees and students usually take transit to get to work or school, with 5% using transit every day.
- Residents of the Downtown/Harewood/Cedar/Chase River area are the most likely to be transit users. Almost 40% of these residents have taken the bus at least once in the last three months.
- Seniors are not statistically more likely to use transit than other adult age groups.
The Transit Business Plan used the results from the on-board passenger survey taken in February 1996. A further on-board passenger survey has since been taken (in December 1999) with the following differences:
- The distribution of trip purposes was similar in 1999 to 1996. The 1999 survey indicated that college trips made up 18% of the total while high school trips accounted for a further 8% (the 1996 survey did not distinguish between college and high school trips).
- A somewhat higher proportion of transit riders transferred at Harbour Park (15.8%) and Country Club (13.1%) than was the case in 1996.
- Malaspina University-College was a significantly more important destination in 1999 than was the case in 1996 (13.1% of trips vs. 9.1%).
- There was a significant increase in regular users (those who take transit 5 or more days per week) from 54% of total riders in 1996 to 62% in 1999.
- Among passenger comments, interest in improved Sunday/Holiday service showed a sharp increase (from 9.6% of all comments in 1996 to 23.2% in 1999). There was a slight drop in the proportion of respondents interested in increased frequencies (from 19.9% to 18.7%).
The Transit Business Plan was based on gradually moderating population growth in the RDN, decreasing from a 20% increase between 1991 and 1996 to a 14% increase between 1996 and 2001. In fact, population growth in the region (and in the province as a whole) slowed much more abruptly than what was forecast. For the RDN, the annual rate of growth dropped from 3.0% in 1996-97 to 1.2% in 1997-98, and the rate has stayed in that range. Overall, the RDN is now forecast to increase by only about 8-9% between 1996 and 2001. Relative growth for different age groups will follow a similar pattern to what was originally forecast - with the 80+ group growing the fastest - but overall rates of growth will be slower.
In the short term, this slowdown in population growth will not have a major impact on transit use. Much of the forecast growth in transit ridership was based on increasing the market penetration for transit and encouraging commuters who currently travel by automobile to take the bus. If this slow rate of population growth continues over the longer term, however, it will begin to impact on the demand for transit.