The article you just read was brought to you by a few thousand dedicated readers. Will you join them?

Thanks for coming by The Tyee and reading one of many original articles we’ll post today. Our team works hard to publish in-depth stories on topics that matter on a daily basis. Our motto is: No junk. Just good journalism.

Just as we care about the quality of our reporting, we care about making our stories accessible to all who want to read them and provide a pleasant reading experience. No intrusive ads to distract you. No paywall locking you out of an article you want to read. No clickbait to trick you into reading a sensational article.

There’s a reason why our site is unique and why we don’t have to rely on those tactics — our Tyee Builders program. Tyee Builders are readers who chip in a bit of money each month (or one-time) to our editorial budget. This amazing program allows us to pay our writers fairly, keep our focus on quality over quantity of articles, and provide a pleasant reading experience for those who visit our site.

In the past year, we’ve been able to double our staff team and boost our reporting. We invest all of the revenue we receive into producing more and better journalism. We want to keep growing, but we need your support to do it.

Fewer than 1 in 100 of our average monthly readers are signed up to Tyee Builders. If we reach 1% of our readers signing up to be Tyee Builders, we could continue to grow and do even more.

If you appreciate what The Tyee publishes and want to help us do more, please sign up to be a Tyee Builder today. You pick the amount, and you can cancel any time.

Support our growing independent newsroom and join Tyee Builders today.
Before you click away, we have something to ask you…

Do you value independent journalism that focuses on the issues that matter? Do you think Canada needs more in-depth, fact-based reporting? So do we. If you’d like to be part of the solution, we’d love it if you joined us in working on it.

The Tyee is an independent, paywall-free, reader-funded publication. While many other newsrooms are getting smaller or shutting down altogether, we’re bucking the trend and growing, while still keeping our articles free and open for everyone to read.

The reason why we’re able to grow and do more, and focus on quality reporting, is because our readers support us in doing that. Over 5,000 Tyee readers chip in to fund our newsroom on a monthly basis, and that supports our rockstar team of dedicated journalists.

Join a community of people who are helping to build a better journalism ecosystem. You pick the amount you’d like to contribute on a monthly basis, and you can cancel any time.

Help us make Canadian media better by joining Tyee Builders today.
We value: Our readers.
Our independence. Our region.
The power of real journalism.
We're reader supported.
Get our newsletter free.
Help pay for our reporting.

Transit Geeks Rejoice!

Not only does Vancouver crush Portland and Seattle, but proving it involves nifty analysis and charts.

By Clark Williams-Derry 19 Jul 2012 |

Clark Williams-Derry is programs director for The Sightline Institute in Seattle, a sustainability think tank in Seattle which publishes Sightline Daily, where a version of this piece first appeared.

When it comes to commuting by transit in the larger cities on North America's northwest coast, neither Portland nor Seattle can hold a candle to greater Vancouver.

The simplest comparison among the three cities looks at the average number of bus and rail transit boardings per person, per year, in the entire metro area. And on that measure, Vancouver vastly outstrips its two southern neighbors (see chart at top of story).

Unfortunately, the story is somewhat more complicated than this chart suggests. Vancouver's transit system encourages transfers -- and since there's a single, unified transit agency for metro Vancouver, there's good data on how many riders actually transfer in the course of a single trip. Seattle, in contrast, has so many overlapping transit systems that it's very difficult to assess how many transfers there really are.

Still, even if you assume that each transit boarding in Portland and Seattle represents a single trip, but use Vancouver's data on "trips" rather than "vehicle boardings," Metro Vancouver still beats the two U.S cities handily:

Using the same "trip" definitions in the chart above, a mode-by-mode breakdown shows that Portland has far more rail riders than Seattle, while greater Seattle edges out greater Portland in bus ridership. But Vancouver still comes out on top in both categories.

Trips per capita, 2010*

By Bus: Vancouver 56, Portland 32, Seattle 43
By Light Rail: Vancouver 33, Portland 21, Seattle 3
By Commuter Rail: Vancouver 1, Portland 0, Seattle 1

*Note: Vancouver data represent transit "trips," while data for both Portland and Seattle represent transit "boardings."

Of course, there's still more to the story. These charts exclude a number of transit modes, including dial-a-ride transit (which is typically door-to-door service offered to those who are physically unable to use standard transit service), as well as vanpools and ferries. I've decided to keep those out of the analysis for now, but I'll note that after including ferry trips in the total trip count count, Seattle's per capita transit ridership ties Portland's; and when you add in vanpools as well as ferries, Seattle narrowly edges Portland.

So perhaps Portland and Seattle are about tied... but tied in a race to see who comes in a distant second to Vancouver.

Notes and Caveats:

For this analysis, we considered all of the transit agencies in the greater Portland and Seattle metropolitan areas, as listed in the National Transit Database. For Seattle, those agencies included King County Metro, Sound Transit, Community Transit (in Snohomish County), Everett Transit, the City of Seattle, and a handful of ferry providers -- but not Kitsap Transit. For Portland, it included Trimet, C-Tran in Clark County, the South Metro Area Regional Transit agency in Wilsonville, and the Metro vanpool program.

All data for Metro Vancouver comes from Translink. In Seattle, Light Rail includes the monorail and South Lake Union Trolley. Population for the Seattle metro area includes the full population of King, Snohomish, and Pierce counties. Greater Portland's population includes Clark County, Washington, and Clackamas, Multnomah, and Washington counties in Oregon. Population for greater Vancouver includes all of Metro Vancouver. Note that Seattle and Portland population totals, as described above, may differ from the populations of the service areas as defined in the National Transit Database.  [Tyee]

Share this article

The Tyee is supported by readers like you

Join us and grow independent media in Canada

Facts matter. Get The Tyee's in-depth journalism delivered to your inbox for free


The Barometer

Tyee Poll: Are You Preparing for the Next Climate Disaster?

Take this week's poll