Population demographics and transit use patterns in urban areas adjacent to SkyTrain lines

Author/s: Niko Vujevic

Creation date: 2009

Contact info: nikovujevic@gmail.com

Senior supervisor: Peter V. Hall

Keywords: urban, transit, planning, SkyTrain, population, demographics

Geographic focus: Vancouver, BC; British Columbia; Canada

Research question/s: How different are the Expo and Millennium Line neighbourhoods when comparing their urban design, densities, land use diversity and population demographics? Have these neighbourhood characteristics been the driving factors in attracting transit ridership? Has opening of the Millennium Line played a significant role in attracting new ridership to the SkyTrain system?


The SkyTrain system haas been operating in Metro Vancouver since 1986 when the Expo Line was opened. The Millennium Line was opened in 2002. Together these two lines, as well as the more recently built Canada Line, comprise the backbone of the region’s transit system. Municipalities have used the Expo and Millennium lines to encourage high-density developments near the stations. The study sheds light on the results of those efforts.


The author analyzed 1996, 2001 and 2006 Census data to determine how neighbourhoods around SkyTrain changed over a decade. Indicators of neighbourhood design, density, diversity and demographics within 400 and 1,500m capture zones from stations were analysed. While true transit-oriented development neighbourhoods are just starting to develop around a few Millennium Line stations, many such neighbourhoods developed and have been refined over the last 23 years in areas around the Expo Line. The data indicates that the Expo Line neighbourhoods have a well-established transit ridership base and much higher densities than the Millennium Line neighbourhoods or the wider Metro Vancouver area. Most importantly, however, the data showed that Millennium Line neighbourhoods have undergone a change since the line opened and attracted new transit riders.