Passengers press into a northbound Canada Line train at Bridgeport Station in Richmond.

Canada Line boosts rapid transit service levels

Trains connecting Richmond and Vancouver to run more often during the rush

Canada Line trains will run more frequently and peak service will last longer with a bump in service starting Aug. 10.

TransLink spoksman Ken Hardie said the increase from 14 to 16 trains running at the busiest times was planned and built into the operating contract with line builder InTransitBC.

“There’s no incremental cost to TransLink,” he said. “It is happening on schedule.”

But more people than expected are using the rapid transit line connecting Richmond, Vancouver and the airport.

Ridership now averages 116,000 per day on weekdays and 107,000 overall, when weekends are included.

Canada Line ridership wasn’t expected to top 100,000 until 2013 or 2014.

“We’re about two years ahead of where we thought we were going to be,” Hardie said.

TransLink expects a rush of new transit riders this fall when the U-Pass is extended to several new post-secondary institutions, adding 60,000 more students with unlimited transit use built into their student fees.

But Hardie said that wasn’t a factor in increasing the Canada Line service.

New U-Pass students on the Canada Line will for the most part be taking it south to the Kwantlen campus in Richmond, going in the off-peak direction where trains should be less crowded.

Canada Line peak service levels will now run an hour later to 7 p.m.

On weekdays, peak service will also start 30 minutes earlier, at 6:30 a.m.

The Canada Line can currently run an maximum of 20 trains at once, so Hardie said there’s considerable room for further expansion as needed.

The Canada Line handled more than 200,000 riders daily during the 2010 Olympics – which is credited for showing residents how to use the route and ramping up demand quickly.

More frequent bus connections to the line out of South Surrey, White Rock and Delta are also helping draw new riders.