According to the Vancouver Sun (subscription required), transit ridership in greater Vancouver jumped 8 percent in 2004. That’s the largest increase since 1986 and corresponds to 11 million additional transit trips.

Most of the growth was on the metropolitan area’s ubiquitous buses, not on its elevated light-rail SkyTrain.

High gas prices and, especially, the late-2003 U-Pass program stimulated much of the increase, which was the biggest jump among large transit systems in Canada.

U-Pass gives unlimited transit rides to students at the University of British Columbia and Simon Fraser University. (We posted on it here.) It’s a perfect example of the Best-Buys-First approach to transit we’ve long encouraged.

U-Pass is also exceptionally successful at the University of Washington, where it has allowed enormous financial savings by making additional parking garages unnecessary.

Readers: which other Cascadian colleges and universities offer free transit passes to all students?