Agenda Index City of Vancouver


TO: Standing Committee on Transportation and Traffic
FROM: General Manager of Engineering Services
SUBJECT: Review of Recent TransLink Studies




TransLink has recently produced some regional transportation studies that are of interest to the City of Vancouver. This report provides a brief description and summary of findings arising from these TransLink studies.


As part of managing Greater Vancouver’s regional transportation system, TransLink is often initiating or participating in various technical reviews, transportation studies, public opinion polls, and market research surveys. Reports or summaries of such transportation studies often discuss regional trends or implications for the City.

In this report, the following transportation studies from TransLink are discussed:

1999 Lower Mainland Truck Freight Study
Regional Traffic Growth Trends
1999 TransLink Regional Travel Survey


1999 Lower Mainland Truck Freight Study

A comprehensive study of trucking movements in the Lower Mainland was conducted in the Fall of 1999 by a consortium of regional transportation agencies. Trucking industry and goods movement data has not been collected in the Lower Mainland since the City of Vancouver and the Greater Vancouver Regional District (GVRD) undertook the 1988 Truck Study. Maintaining an efficient network for goods movement is a stated priority of the City, TransLink, Transport Canada, and the Ministry of Transportation and Highways.

To adequately address present and future regional trucking issues, the objectives of the 1999 Lower Mainland Truck Freight Study were to:
develop a ‘snapshot’ of trucking movements for a typical day during the Fall of 1999
quantify the changes in truck movements since 1988
develop a computer model that can be used to forecast truck demand

The study area was bounded by the United States border to the south, by the Strait of Georgia to the west, by Whistler to the north, and by Hope to the east. Trucks were classified as either light (trucks with only 2 axles) or heavy (trucks with 3 or more axles). Truck trips were classified as:
Internal - trips that were made completely within the Lower Mainland;
External - trips that had either an origin or destination outside the Lower Mainland;
Special Generator - trips generated from facilities such as the port terminals, airport, and intermodal rail yards.

The following is a brief summary of the data from the 1999 Lower Mainland Truck Freight Study. The data retrieved from origin/destination truck surveys and vehicle classification counts were expanded to represent the entire trucking population of the Lower Mainland on a typical day in November, 1999.

There were approximately 187,000 total truck trips of which 91% were internal, 5% external, and 4% special generator (see Table 1). Approximately 127,000 (68%) of these truck trips were made using light trucks and 60,000 (32%) using heavy trucks.

Table 1: Light and Heavy Truck Trips by Trip Type

Trip Type Total


Light % Heavy %
Internal 170,200 91% 122,300 96% 47,900 79%
External 9,900 5% 2,200 2% 7,700 13%
Special Generator 7,200 4% 2,500 2% 4,700 8%
TOTAL 187,300   127,000 68% 60,300 32%

In general, trips from special generators and from outside the region are by heavy truck. Virtually all light-truck activity is generated within the region. Close to 10% of all heavy truck trips generated from Vancouver originated at either Centerm or Vanterm at the Port of Vancouver. Only 7% of all external trips (trips from outside the region) had a destination of Vancouver.

Vancouver generated over 46,000 (25%) total truck trips during a typical day in November, 1999 (see Table 2). This includes close to 30% of all light truck trips generated in the Lower Mainland. As a sub-area, Vancouver generated the largest percentage share of light truck trips. Heavy trucks were predominantly generated South of the Fraser River while Vancouver generated 16% of all heavy truck trips, mostly from the Port.

Table 2: 24-Hour Light and Heavy Truck Trip Generation by Sub-Area

Sub-Area Light Trucks Heavy Trucks Total Trucks
Vancouver 36,711 9,645 46,356
Burnaby/New West/NE Sector 22,629 11,398 34,027
North Delta/North Surrey 17,854 6,957 24,811
Richmond 17,718 6,313 24,031
Langleys 7,974 4,361 12,335
Valley South 5,515 5,168 10,683
South Delta 3,327 5,449 8,776
North Shore 5,047 3,268 8,315
Maple Ridge/Pitt Meadows 6,309 1,976 8,285
External 1,015 3,976 4,991
White Rock/South Surrey 1,909 960 2,869
Valley North 972 874 1,846
TOTAL 126,980 60,345 187,325

Light trucks averaged 10 trips per day with an average trip length of 9 kilometres. Heavy trucks averaged 8 trips per day with an average trip length of 16 kilometres. Approximately 70% of all trucks arrived at their destination between 9:00 AM and 4:00 PM.

Comparing the 1999 Lower Mainland Truck Freight Study results to the previous 1988 Truck Study, some notable regional differences include:
a 30% decrease in the average light truck trip length (from 12.1 km to 8.5 km)
a 15% decrease in the average heavy truck trip length (from 18.5 km to 15.8 km)
a 20% increase in the light truck daily trip frequency (from 8.3 trips to 10.0 trips)
a 19% increase in the heavy truck daily trip frequency (from 6.7 trips to 8.0 trips)
Vancouver’s percentage of all light and heavy truck trips generated within the region decreased from 33% to 25%

Because of differences in the methods of data collection, it is not possible to compare the total number of truck trips in 1988 versus 1999. Vancouver still carries the largest percentage of truck trips per day and is host to the Port of Vancouver, one of the region’s largest special heavy truck generators. The major truck corridors in Vancouver include Knight Street, Southeast Marine Drive, Grandview Highway, and Boundary Road. As part of the improved transportation monitoring program that was approved by Council in 1999, truck traffic volume data on individual truck corridors will be collected annually on a 5-year cycle. This data collection was scheduled to begin in Fall 2000, but was deferred to next year due to the recent job action.

Regional Traffic Growth Trends

Traffic volumes across screenlines on the major travel corridors of the GVRD have been collected by TransLink and its predecessors four times since 1985. Screenlines are artificial boundaries defined by rivers, municipal boundaries, and/or major roads where count stations are located (see Appendix 1). The most recent screenline survey was conducted as part of the 1999 Lower Mainland Truck Freight Study which is the most comprehensive survey to date.

The 1999 screenline data was used to calculate the percentage growth in total vehicle volume relative to data from late 1996. The following highlights some of the trends in regional traffic growth that have occurred between 1996 and 1999. Notable regional transportation infrastructure changes that may have had a significant impact on individual screenlines include the opening of HOV lanes on both the Barnet Highway and Highway 1.

Traffic volumes have been growing across the region at approximately twice the rate of population and employment since 1996. The average cumulative regional traffic growth was approximately 8% as compared to an average growth in the GVRD population of only 4% (based on 1996 GVRD population of 1,910,314 and a 1999 population estimate of 1,990,661). Similarly, the growth in Greater Vancouver’s labour force from 1996 to 1999 was also approximately 4%.

The highest 24-hour vehicle growth between 1996 and 1999 was 19% across the North Road screenline which separates Burnaby and New Westminster from the NorthEast Sector (see Table 3). The Boundary Road screenline which separates Vancouver and Burnaby experienced the next highest growth of 16%. In comparison, Vancouver’s 24-hour traffic volumes have grown by 8% and 3% across the North Arm Fraser River and Burrard Inlet screenlines respectively. The Vancouver Central Business District (CBD) screenline which measures the total vehicular traffic volume to and from the downtown peninsula, has experienced a growth of only 3%.

Table 3: Regional Traffic Growth in Screenline Counts (2-way), 1996 to 1999

Area Screenline 24-Hour AM Peak PM Peak
Vancouver Boundary Road 16% 14% 14%
  North Arm of Fraser 8% 6% 2%
  Vancouver CBD 3% 3% 5%
  Burrard Inlet 3% 1% 1%
Other North Road 19% 11% 20%
  200th Street 5% 16% 8%
  South Arm of Fraser 5% 2% 4%
  Pitt River 4% 6% 12%
REGION   8% 7% 8%

The percentages in Table 3 represent the total growth in the number of vehicles at each screenline, including cars, buses, and trucks. Similar data is also collected by the City on an annual basis and reported each year in the “Moving Around the City” section of “Vancouver Trends”. In order to determine changes in the number of people traveling across screenlines by mode type, staff have requested that TransLink carry out future studies that will provide this information. Such data will allow a comparison to the mode split targets that have been set in the City’s Transportation Plan.

1999 TransLink Regional Travel Survey

In the Fall of 1999, TransLink conducted a trip diary and attitude survey of GVRD residents. The main objectives of the 1999 Regional Travel Survey were to provide information on:
the usage and attitudes of residents toward travel modes, routes, and roads
origin and destination details regarding the actual travel behavior of all residents

The following is a brief summary of some of the survey findings. Complete results from the 1999 Regional Travel Survey are available on TransLink’s website at The survey findings are summarized into the following sections:
Basic Profile of Travel in the Region
Public Transit Usage
Attitudes Toward Possible Initiatives

As part of the survey, adult Vancouver residents identified all trips they had taken by all modes in the last 24 hours. Approximately 5% of these trips involved more than one mode of transportation resulting in total percentages greater than one hundred.

Overall, 58% of Vancouver residents’ trips were made by single occupant vehicle or in vehicles with passengers. In comparison, all GVRD residents made 74% of their trips by automobile. 20% of Vancouver residents’ trips involved public transit as compared to the regional average of 12%. Similarly, Vancouver residents traveled more by walking or biking (25%) than the average of all GVRD residents (15%).

Respondents of the survey were also asked if they were using public transit more often, about the same, or less than one year ago. Vancouver residents reported no change in this regard. 59% said that the amount they take transit has remained the same. Equal numbers said that they are using public transit more often (20%) or less often (21%).

The major corridors within Vancouver traveled on most often by all of the GVRD residents surveyed included Granville Street, Kingsway, Broadway, and Marine Drive. Lougheed, King George, Highway 99, and the Fraser Highway made up the remainder of the major corridors GVRD residents traveled on most often.

Residents were asked to identify if they supported the following potential improvements on the corridor they traveled on most often:
coordination of traffic lights
HOV lanes during rush hour
left-hand turn signal (or lanes)
more off-street parking
better road signage
more road signage

The results of the survey indicate the largest regional support is for having traffic lights coordinated (79% on Kingsway) followed by having HOV lanes during rush hour (58% on Kingsway). Within Vancouver, there was also support for having left-hand turn signals (or lanes) and more off-street parking on Granville Street and Kingsway (53% to 65%). Better or more road signage were not considered by the respondents as priority road improvements across the region. Appendix 2 provides a summary of the respondents’ support for changes to the major corridors.

Overall, Vancouver residents made more transit, walking, and biking trips and fewer vehicular trips than other areas of the region. They rated the coordination of traffic lights and the provision of HOV lanes during rush hour more positively than other ideas for improving traffic flow on the major roads. While the results are representative of only a sample of the traveling public, they present an updated snapshot of Vancouver residents’ travel behaviour and attitudes towards mode choice and major road improvements.


The findings in this report represent some of the latest regional trends in transportation from available data by TransLink. Detailed copies of the reports described are available at TransLink’s website. Although these studies provide good information on some recent transportation trends in Vancouver and the region, the most recent data on mode splits in Greater Vancouver, its municipalities and sub-areas dates back to 1996. Staff are working through TransLink to pursue the collection of this and other needed regional data. One important step in this direction has been the formation of a regional transportation Monitoring and Data Collection Task Group. The objectives of the Task Group include creating a coordinated regional monitoring program that supports both regional and municipal planning needs, and developing guidelines for improved, consistent and standardized monitoring data. Staff will report back to Council on future relevant regional transportation studies as part of their regular monitoring program.





Comments or questions? You can send us email.

[City Homepage] [Get In Touch]

(c) 1998 City of Vancouver