The 2014 Canadian Transit Scores are out…and Vancouver, BC clocks in as the third most transit-friendly city in the Great White North, narrowly bested by Toronto and Montreal. Pretty good, eh?

Canada Transit Score

Canadian Transit Scores by Walk Score (Used with permission)

But what’s even better: when you combine Canada and the US, Vancouver comes in at number 6! The only US cities with a better Transit Score than Vancouver are New York, San Francisco, and Boston.

Looking more narrowly within the Cascadia bioregion, Vancouver’s Transit Score beats the pants off its nearest two rivals. Portland and Seattle both do pretty well within the US, with Transit Scores of 50 and 57, respectively. But Vancouver shellacks both cities, with a score of 74.

So why does Vancouver’s Transit Score outstrip Seattle’s and Portland’s so handily?

The Transit Score methodology rates a location’s transit-friendliness by its proximity to transit stops and the frequency of transit service. Rail, cable cars, and ferries count more than buses towards a location’s Transit Score. To score a whole city, the Transit Scores of individual locations throughout the city are weighted by nearby population, then averaged.

One of the consequences of this methodology is that a city can boost its Transit Score either by boosting transit service, or by boosting the number of people near high-quality transit.

  • Translink Service hours per capita forecast

    Compared with both Seattle and Portland, Vancouver’s done both. Translink has substantially increased per-capita transit service hours over the past decade (though there’s been a downward trend in recent years, and further cuts loom). Greater Seattle has boosted service too, but not to the same extent as Translink; and Portland’s service hours have actually declined slightly over the past few years.

    And perhaps more importantly, the city of Vancouver has far more people living in compact, transit-friendly neighborhoods than either Seattle or Portland.

    In short, Vancouver’s done a lot of things right to earn its high Transit Score…suggesting that Seattle and Portland still have a lot to learn from their northern neighbor.