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My ride on our new public limo

August 17th, 2009 · 44 Comments

As promised, here is my Globe story on my advance ride of the new Canada Line.

Not surprisingly, I wasn’t able to include even half of the details and observations from my two hours riding the line, but I’m sure some of you are out there now critiquing it with your sharp eyes so I await your erudite commentary.

Categories: Uncategorized

  • WW

    Amazing interest in this opening. I’ve been watching the line up to get on at Vancouver Centre from my office and it has been as far as the eye can see for almost 3 hours now.

    Outside at Granville and Georgia and down on the Vancouver Centre train platform there are people rushing in all directions, looking for their passbook stamps — sounds like they created a mini treasure hunt for people. Families seem to be having a great time.

    I recall when the Millennium line open (3 months late if I recall) that it was a quiet, non-event. One day trains just started operating.

  • I saw lots of posts from people on the twitters today about being there for the station opening and first rides. There’s a lot of interest about this line, likely a brew of the high-profile and disruptive construction, the renewed interest in transit and road-allocation, and so on. It’s been an interesting few years between the opening of the two lines.

  • LP

    Todd, that may be the funniest line I’ve read all day. Yes, people turned up in droves to ride the Canada Line because of road-allocation to bicycles and “a renewed interest in transit”.

    Please excuse me while I try to stop laughing and get up off the floor.

  • Delia

    Why is that funny? I think people are genuinely interested in transit solutions to traffic congestion in Metro Vancouver. The opening of the Canada makes people think about what other possibilities there are for the region. Now we have three metro lines in the region. Now it’s time to think about lines to Coquitlam and UBC.

  • Michael Phillips

    I waited two hours to get on the Canada Line at Waterfront, there was about a mile of coiled line-up. It was amazing seeing people so excited about something new in the city, with all the complaining we (rightfully) do. It was sweltering hot on the cement plaza outside the station (one lady needed paramedics) and I couldn’t help but think how old-fashioned the whole excitement was, it was so civic. I felt like I was back when people would watch space shuttle launches on TV. I had to explain to two sets of tourists why we were all lined up, and when I said “it’s for a new subway line” they looked at me like I was crazy and then walked away chuckling to each other, like we were 3000 Beverly Hillbillies in ecstasies over our first motorcar. Anyway, there was none of the promised “entertainment” except one magician who simply asked you to pick a card and the only card which was overturned when he fanned his cards out was your card. Finally we shuffled passed the last guard and went exploring:

    The stations are fine but a bit boring, the dominant colours are grey and dark blue. Everything is very prim and proper, the electric signs tell you when the next 3 trains are coming and where they are going. The trains are spectacular, best in the world in my experience. Very wide, lots of empty space without seats, presumably for baggage and standing but it gives a very pleasant, open feel. This comfort is added to by the temporary lack of advertisements, the calming effect of which is very tangible. It would be interesting to see whether people might be inclined to spend more on a ticket equal to ad revenue just to not have to look at ads. Each underground station sadly looks almost identical, I’m shocked they used different architects. Unfortunately there is virtually no public art, although on the bright side there are also no rows of hot pink stop signs.

    I got out at “Olympic Village” because it was the first station that didn’t seem to have a line up to get back in. It is in what is currently by urban standards the middle of nowhere. I wandered around not even knowing really where I was and I asked a young woman where exactly this intersection was and she said “You’re at the wrong end of the Cambie Street bridge” which I thought was an odd but poignant statement. I went back to the station and onto the next train.

    The train is very quiet and smooth, and the female voice that announces the stations is the loveliest, classiest computer voice I’ve ever heard, fabulous. Everybody let out an excited gasp when the train finally came out into the sunshine below Oakridge and quickly ascended high above the ground. It was like we had never been on a Skytrain before. Usually commuters look so drab but I think we all enjoy public transit, and especially the Skytrain, a bit more than we let on. I got off at Marine Drive, and looked around the neighbourhood but there’s nothing really there except a gas station and houses. Then we crossed the bridge and the bridge is gorgeous and contemporary and the cycle paths are brilliantly held as an undercarriage folded under the Skytrain grade. Fantastic design!

    The above ground stations are all essentially the same, reasonable architecture, similar to some Millenium stations, some or all have wood paneling on the ceiling, but not much excitement. I have only been to Richmond twice in my life so one highlight was simply being able to go to this new city so easily. I didn’t look around because of what looked like at least 30 minute or longer lineups at each station to get back on. Then I came back but rather than go all the way to Waterfront I went to Vancouver City Centre because I couldn’t believe that I had heard there was no formal transfer between the Expo and Canada lines at Granville Station. Unless I’m very mistaken, this will be the main criticism of the Canada Line.

    If you want to transfer at Granville City Centre to the Expo line at Granville station (and they are yards away it seems) you have to a) find your way to the street level, walk to the corner of Robson and Granville, cross two crosswalks to the opposite end of the intersection, go half a block and go into Granville station and proceed back down into our deepest station to catch the train or b) walk into the underground portion of Sears adjoining the station, go through Sears, walk down Pacific Centre, go into the Bay and walk through the Bay to Granville Station. Otherwise you have to connect at Waterfront which is I believe what the transit gods want you to do even though this means an extra Canada Line trip one station to Waterfront, a transfer to the Expo line, then a trip to Burrard, and then back to Granville, yards away from where you were 10 minutes earlier. That’s 3 extra stops. Why no underground direct tunnel unifying the stations?

    In any case, the line is on the whole pretty impressive and so necessary, although I have to say I was even more impressed with the commuters than the commute today.

  • jesse

    For a fare under $3, how much is one’s time worth anyways? Just wait for a couple of days and ride in comfort.

  • Delia

    Michael,

    It would be nice if the Canada Line and Skytrain stations at Granville and Georgia linked, but it’s not as difficult as your option a suggests (which btw points people in the completely wrong direction). From Vancouver City Centre Station on the Canada Line, exit at street level at Georgia and Granville, walk half a block north down Granville and enter Granville Station on the west side of The Bay.

  • gmgw

    I can remember, as a kid in North Vancouver in the early 60s, being about 12 years old when the first “new” BC Hydro (who operated the bus system in those days) transit buses arrived; if I remember rightly, these was the first wave of the green-and-white GM buses that gradually supplanted all of the old yellow Flyers over the rest of that decade. My father was a bus driver and so I took a sort of professional interest in such things.

    On the first Saturday the new buses were running I persuaded a friend to join me in riding one of the new buses on the Capilano Highlands route; up Delbrook, along Montroyal, down Highland Boulevard to Highlands Village– and then back again. I don’t know what we were expecting– maybe, with a bigger engine, it was going to take off and fly–??– But I do know that after about fifteen minutes the whole experience began to seem pretty anticlimactic to both of us. I haven’t gotten excited about anything as completely mundane as a new transit system since.

    However, I have it on good authority that some people never get over that particular thrill, even after becoming grownups.
    gmgw

  • gmgw

    That extraordinarily urbane yet easily shocked man-about-town Michael Phillips wailed:

    “I got out at ‘Olympic Village’ because it was the first station that didn’t seem to have a line up to get back in. It is in what is currently by urban standards the middle of nowhere. I wandered around not even knowing really where I was and I asked a young woman where exactly this intersection was and she said ‘You’re at the wrong end of the Cambie Street bridge’ which I thought was an odd but poignant statement. I went back to the station and onto the next train.”

    Well, gee, Michael, I’m sorry you had such a dystopian experience in Nowheresville, which also happens to be the neighbourhood I live in. I guess you missed seeing VPD headquarters, Best Buy, Canadian Tire, Capers, Save-On Foods, and all the other accoutrements of the sophisticated urban Canadian lifestyle which are located within a couple of blocks of the station, not to mention Broadway & Cambie just up the hill with a great big London Drugs, and City Hall glittering in the distance. Of course, that’s all forbidden territory to we who dwell here in Nowheresville; they keep us under guard, behind that log palisade you no doubt noticed just north of the station. They say we’re “restless” and, as such, not to be trusted.

    Still, had I known you were coming, I could have asked our local missionary to send an acolyte to meet you with lemonade and cookies and a couple of good magazines to read, and you could have bartered your beads and trinkets for the fish the simple-minded locals haul out of the Creek and for the shiny, pretty rocks they find in the mud when the tide goes down.

    It’s a rough life out here on the raw frontier of civilization, at the wrong end of the Cambie Bridge, but it has its rewards. Drop by any time, but don’t forget your pith helmet, and keep a firm grip on your trusty twelve-bore. You never know when there might be another uprising.
    gmgw

  • They did it

    Seems to me it’s time for Vancouver to take a step back and savour this moment. This line is a winner. We don’t need to wait 5 years to find that out. They did a great job, in spite of the problems. Good job, Vancouver. GOOD JOB!

  • urb anwriter

    gmgw,

    good shot.

    if you have a spare missionary, could you send them for dinner where I live?

  • LP

    Delia,

    Can you please let us know if you work for Translink or what your affiliation is – a pr company perhaps?

    It is apparent that you are trolling several blogs and posting messages to anyone who has a negative word on the line.

    Very unfortunate that there needs to be spin out there and that any least little criticism needs to be stamped out.

    And yes, I’m still on the floor laughing over Todd’s post, and now Delia’s spin.

  • Delia

    Exciting projects and developments are definitely going to be seen around the stations in the years to come–and you won’t need a car to get to them!

  • Michael Phillips

    Delia:
    Sorry I meant Georgia when I said Robson, that was my option a). You have to come to the surface, cross at two crosswalks, then walk half a block and go all the way back down again.

    gmgw:
    “Well, gee, Michael, I’m sorry you had such a dystopian experience in Nowheresville, which also happens to be the neighbourhood I live in. I guess you missed seeing VPD headquarters, Best Buy, Canadian Tire, Capers, Save-On Foods, and all the other accoutrements of the sophisticated urban Canadian lifestyle which are located within a couple of blocks of the station”

    Bob Rennie would be proud of your salesmanship but I ask you if the station is right in the hub of it all why was there not a single person waiting in line to get on the train there. It’s no big deal, its simply that the area is under construction as you must have noticed.

  • mpm

    I was amazed at the length of the line ups because of the one free day. As I read on another blog, ‘Thanks, I’ll ride for free everyday’.

    And this is not far from the truth. I ride the Millenium line to Burnaby everyday, and I have been asked for a pass once in the 5 months I have been taking a train.

    Tranklink – please install the some gates and stop wining about not having any funds.

  • gmgw

    Michael Phillips riposted:
    “… I ask you if the station is right in the hub of it all why was there not a single person waiting in line to get on the train there. It’s no big deal, its simply that the area is under construction as you must have noticed.”

    I guess you’re afflicted with an inability to detect sarcasm, Michael. Yes, living in the area as I do, I had kind of noticed that a certain level of construction activity has been going on on that site for the past couple of years. As for why no one was waiting there, all agog, when you happened to make your grand entrance, how would I know?! Timing is everything.

    But I can tell you two things: A) That station’s going to get a whole lot busier post-Olympics, when SEFC begins to fill up with new residents; and B) The 1500 or more folks who live in that area of False Creek west of the Cambie Bridge, within a stone’s throw of the station, are still waiting for someone to act on their repeated requests for construction of an access path that will enable them to actually get to and from the station from their homes. Thus far it’s physically separated from the residential area bordering the Creek by multiple barriers, including the streetcar line, a berm, and a fenced-off parking lot formerly used by the VPD.

    I’m not saying that’s why you had such a disappointing welcome, but that could be part of it.
    gmgw

  • evilfred

    “and the cycle paths are brilliantly held as an undercarriage folded under the Skytrain grade. Fantastic design!”

    Yes, perfect for well-disguised assaults upon hapless pedestrians in the evenings.

  • Michael Phillips

    evilfred: Could you elaborate?

  • evilfred

    From the photos the bike + pedestrian paths look pretty hidden, and I didn’t see the paths from the train when we went over the bridge.

  • Michael Phillips

    That’s what I thought was so great about it, the train doesn’t disrupt the pedestrians and cyclists (wind, noise) because it’s on an entirely different level of the bridge, and it seems they have plenty of room. You can see the cycle/pedestrian path underneath if you are at the south side of the bridge looking out the westside windows.

  • Bill Lee

    The Canada line has no washrooms. One day there will have to be a Critical Piss-In to point that out.

    And if you get faint there is no where to sit and rest on the platform. 2 single seat chairs don’t make it.
    The Refuge areas for wheelchair are very poorly marked. And who decided to have shallow elevators? With no corner mirrors for who-is-behind-you.

    I was disappointed by the signage.
    “Way Out” rather than Exit? All the station platforms look alike from the train cars. At least in Montreal they have colours and differences.
    Anyone standing who is above the Richmond average height of 167 cm (5 ft 6 in) can’t see the station signs from the windows
    So lifeless, colourless, they really expect it was just for them, little Alan Dever. How does well-over 6 feet Jean-Marc Arbaud, CEO of InTransit, see the station signs?

    There is no moving light on the in-car station maps, and there is no map of the system to show the interchanges and what leads to what.
    I’ll be glad to see the Translick agreement when Cameron Ward’s FoI request is shown.
    People were standing on one side and the door opens on the other.

    No, the readographs are not sufficient. One language, too crowded with block lettering and if sitting down, can’t be seen over the heads of standees.

    The crowd gave a loud cheer when the cars came out of the 57th street tunnel, so I expect that they were a little nervous about the tunnel. They’ll get over that by the second fire.

    Speaking of which I see there the first bombs will go off at a flammable site just opposite the BridgePort Gambling-losers-R-Us station.
    And I can’t wait until thousand of newspaper pages fly along the tunnels from the 24 and Metro as where we see them on the Skytrain.

    At the Airport I was shocked by the disinterest in the comfort of the international passsenger. You come out of the international terminal, tired, dehydrated from a 13 hour flight and some guard says that you can’t come up here, speaking in some pagan language, and pointing to something far off. Ain’t going to happen. We are all going up the down stairs to get on Now!!
    Signs, as at the Federal jurisdiction airport, are in three languages, though they use the form of Chinese characters used by smaller countries like Singapore, and not that of Hong Kong. But once on the platform there is no other language than the barbaric Germanic Anglo-saxon. And they want us to pay for the ticket when we only have Euros or US Dollars or RMB or our JCB card and Yen or the transit thugs will taser us again. There is a sign saying “Change at Bridgeport” so there must be a Bureau de Change there. Riiight.
    I’ve had to buy a newspaper to throw away to get change from a $20 for the tiny community bus with the unhelpful Sikh driver, me very tired after 15 hours from Asia. Charging when you don’t give change, or we only carry “large bills”?
    Fuggeddit. Canada Line, a fully controlled part of CLCO, should give up charging anything from that Airport station. It is an excess imposition, few ever do take transit. And the well-being of all visitors would be enhanced by multi-lingual greetings, maps, indexes and welcoming INTransit thugs who speak five languages and wear a soft suit and wave/waive everyone on board free.
    There never have been many people taking the city bus to and from the airport. And many have been workers, or foreign students saving money.
    And those airport workers and in the airport shops still making the training wage of $6 an hour (before they are fired before six months are up), will resent paying two hours of wages to get on and off the airport.
    Though Canada-line has set up several airport checkin booths at the stations, this is not going to happen. When they find that there are so few customers, the trains will cut back to once a half hour, or once a hour and everyone will be late for the plane.
    Stupid, stupid.

    I hope that B.C.’s next premier makes CLCO execs “an offer they can’t refuse” and breaks the management deal. SNC-Lavalin will give the system to the Metro for tax write-offs and other considerations.

  • evilfred

    @Bill Lee

    the signage can be improved, it’s not like it will take another 100 million to fix it.

    “way out” is actually more familiar for some of the international visitors you seem quite worried about.

    the existing Skytrain hasn’t had many tunnel fires.

    and LOTS of people took the old airport bus + 98 b-line connection to get back downtown. including yuppies like myself.

    “Fuggeddit. Canada Line, a fully controlled part of CLCO, should give up charging anything from that Airport station.”

    it costs like 30$ at least to get to Tokyo from Narita airport. granted it’s a further distance, but still. what airport in the world connected to transit doesn’t charge for it?

    “welcoming INTransit thugs who speak five languages and wear a soft suit and wave/waive everyone on board free.”

    i hope you’re being sarcastic???

    “And they want us to pay for the ticket when we only have Euros or US Dollars or RMB or our JCB card and Yen or the transit thugs will taser us again.”

    As opposed to the French subways, which I’m sure take American dollars?

  • urb anwriter

    Bill, Bill, sit down. Relax. You have to understand the near-universal rule that people who ‘design’ something do not, as a perk of their position, ever have to use it.

    I mean, think about it, how many of the architects involved are ever going to ride public transit?

    And how many of the people who decree what transit service will exist, at what time of day, in what volume ever, ever use transit?

    And the thugs with guns? Well, between paying their wages, their pension benefits, the cost of the guns they so lovingly display (ever notice they each have circa 35 rounds – their very own fire-fight) and the endless admin staff probably provide more jobs than the same investment in light-rail, heavy-rail, buses, whatever.

    But you’ll be okay 🙂

    Glad to see I’m not the only one who notices the endless expansion and weaponization or militarization of ‘law enforcement’ in our tender domains

  • Andrea C.

    I had to ride “the thing that mauled Vancouver” and experience it for myself.

    I got on at Waterfront at 7:30 p.m. this evening. Nearly everyone else on board was a looky-lou like me. I was at the very back of the train, so I was treated to a retreating view of the scenery. I was sure I would get nauseous, but this new train doesn’t go nearly fast enough for that. The first part of the trip featured the round tunnel of many pieces and pipes and wires. The second part featured the relatively smooth square tunnel of pipes and wires. I found the atmosphere in the tunnels suicidal, and I’ve been on a few metros in my day (not the really grand ones). The stations ceased to be of interest after the second stop. They are, bluntly, small and ugly on the inside. The lighting was harsh, too.
    After maintaining a easygoing tempo along a relatively brief “underground” second, the train made a valiant climb for the great outdoors and pulled into the Marine Drive Station. The air con/exchange whirred noisily ahead.
    Long story short, I went all the way to the “new, new” YVR (yawn) and went back along a stingy single track towards the parkade/casino. This time I didn’t make it downtown because the lack of air exchange in my car was making me want to throw up in my mouth, literally. It’s really lovely smelling chewing gum someone chewed at the other end of the car a few trips ago. It wasn’t worth the reduction of in-car noise. I sincerely hoped no one on board was nursing a contagious disease, because I was surely breathing it in. I had to bail at Broadway (another dinky station).

    This line was clearly made for shuttling the worker drone from his or her suburban box to his or her stifling cubicle downtown, no frills. There was no intention on the part of the designers/powers that be to make the link anything but as depressing and unimpressive as the average working stiff’s work or home enviroment. Bah, humbug.

    So glad I don’t have to ride this thing. Ever.
    I know I’m still paying for it, but I’ll gladly pay to stay off, thanks. (And, no, I’m not a driver).

    P.S. Maybe all of the savings incurred from the bare bones construction job has been plowed into safety, maintainence and the like. Maybe.

  • Delia

    Well, I don’t know what it would take to please Andrea. I don’t really think we can please someone with her expectations. Unfortunately, there will always be people who look for the negative. I think most people are practical enough to realize that this is a transit line and isn’t going to look like a scene from a Pottery Barn catalogue. For what it’s worth, I find the stations very attractive, and most people who’ve looked at them seem to agree. They have a simple, understated, and functional quality. (BTW: Who really cares what the inside of a tunnel looks like?)

  • SV

    Delia-can you please go back to talking to “most people”-take your clipboard and your name tag, we know you can do it-and stop with the defensive cheerleading?

  • Delia

    I am happy to cheerlead! The Canada Line is a fantastic addition to Metro Vancouver’s transportation system.

    Now let’s get working on an extension of the Millenium Line to UBC as well as the Evergreen Line between Lougheed Mall and Coquitlam Centre (which could be Skytrain too).

  • SV

    Yeah! And let’s not gut the trolley bus system while we’re at it! And let’s accept criticism about the utilitarian nature of the Canada Lines stations and the fact that you have to go up, outside, and down to change trains in downtown Vancouver! And let’s make sure the P3 partner gets its money!

    Hey I love transit as much as the next guy but give it a rest.

  • Michael Phillips

    “(BTW: Who really cares what the inside of a tunnel looks like?)”

    I disagree, there’s a good 3 feet on each side of the tunnel for trapeze acts and go-go dancers, we just have no culture.

  • Delia

    SV:
    Hello! We have a brand new trolley fleet, articulated trolleys for the first time, and new trolley lines on SW/SE Marine Drive. That shows commitment to the trolley system.

    The Canada Line stations are beautiful! I don’t want gaudy stations like some of you seem to be promoting.

  • gmgw

    The completely impartial Delia said:
    “Who really cares what the inside of a tunnel looks like?”

    There are creative things that can be done with subway tunnels. When I was in Montreal for the first time in 1970, I was riding the Metro one evening, gazing vaguely into the darkness outside the car’s window. Suddenly, shortly after leaving a downtown station, I was astonished to find myself watching what appeared to be an animated cartoon. I don’t remember the visual content, but I do remember that the dominant colour was an intense blue and that it featured a character who resembled one of the Super Mario Brothers. It turned out to be an ad for some service offered by the city. It lasted maybe ten seconds. It was so unexpected and startling that it made me think I was hallucinating.

    I can only assume that someone had had the bright idea of labouriously installing a series of images along the tunnel walls, each one separately illuminated, carefully calibrating and spacing them according to the train’s estimated speed, so that that whole thing would work according to the principles of a flipbook, or perhaps a kinetoscope. It was a remarkably clever and effective idea, and perhaps the most remarkable thing about is that, having ridden rapid-transit systems in a number of cities over the years, I’ve never seen anything similar since.

    While it’s not beyond the realm of possibility for an innovative use, like this, of something as dull as a transit tunnel wall to appear in Vancouver, I’m not holding my breath.
    gmgw

  • real_urbanist

    While I agree the station have a certain understated nature to them, I think this really illustrates what happens when, in a P3 venture, the architects are [once again] completely restricted in what they are able to do. None of the station architects were able to move beyond the bare minimum, as anything designed with some thought surely increases costs, right? A poor process yielding a rather banal product.

    And while I think we now make the most of this infrastructure, please Delia, don’t celebrate the fact that a [possible] Evergreen line will have Skytrain too – i can think of little else that will have such a negative impact on the 3 cities. It’s an utilitarian response that does little to engage and support the growth of these places. Yes, they will build (or are building) large-scale development around potential stations, but the barriers created by the elevated guideway are impossible to overcome….

  • Bill Lee

    The ‘new’ trolley lines along Marine Drive are for the return of the trolleys to their new saltwater depot in Marpole, now that the huge old Army camp at 41st and Oak, known to you as the Oakridge Bus Depot, is up for upper middle class slum condos.
    How would the trolleys get back now that they’ve lost the Cambie route down to Marine Drive?

    I see another fault of the station design. I’m expecting a few deaths, and many near misses.
    The Cambie and Broadway station (called City Hall-Broadway) doesnt’ have an exit tunnel to the north side of Broadway.
    I can see many people dashing across the street into oncoming to catch the 99 B-Line going west, either dodging traffic, or making a diagonal dash.
    Is it time to bring back the all-ways pedestrian crossings that the City used to have downtown at Georgia and Hastings on Granville?

    Lots of complaints about riders of the 351 from South Surrey/ White Rock and the loss of their straight through to Downtown and back. If they got on at or near the terminus, they were guaranteed a seat for the long trip.
    I know that many drivers coveted that route on the seniority board as it was simple, and two trips back and forth was the entire shift, rather than multiple inner city short runs.

  • Mark A

    Reading Bill & Andrea’s comments makes me feel like I’ve accidentally stumbled upon an unpublished Douglas Adams story: “Marvin The Paranoid Android Rides The Skytrain”.

    I’ve obviously been brainwashed by the transit-industrial complex into believing that the Canada Line was something other than a black hole of despair from which no hope can escape. Many people still appear to be fooled, but no doubt after the first few hundred fatalities they will come to see things your way!

  • evilfred

    You’re freaking nuts, Bill. Have you EVER seen someone run diagonally across Cambie and Broadway?

  • mezzanine

    ^^@ Mark A = LOL! I think that I’ve been brainwashed by the skytrain cabal, as I think it is a great addition to our transit network. If they can only link the M-Line to Broadway/City hall….

    ^ I think the city of vancouver put limits on the number of entrances to some of the stations – this is to encourage surface pedestrian activity and to avoid personal safety issues from poorly used entrances. There is a provision for a north-of-broadway entrance in the Crosstown building. The only other place IMO that needs an additonal entrance (aside from downtown stations) is oakridge-41st.

  • gmgw

    Well, without even riding it, I’ve found at least one area where the Canada Line sucks the gaspipe: its section of the Translink Web site. My loved one works in Richmond, and works Saturdays, and there’s a Chinese restaurant near Richmond Centre we’ve been wanting to try, so I thought I’d ride out there Saturday and she could drive over and pick me up at the nearest station. My wife, who has poor orienteering skills at the best of times, especially when driving, likes to have precise directions to her destinations.

    Unfortunately, neither of us knows the exact location of the Richmond stations, except that they’re on or near #3 Road, a traffic-choked throughfare we avoid as much as possible (fortunately, she works in a different part of Richmond). No problem, thinks I; I’ll just check the Canada Line Web site. They’ll have a map and give the exact locations of the stations, especially since the line is so new that a lot of people unfamiliar with its route will be wanting similar information.

    Well. Have any of you looked at the sorry-assed excuse for a station locator map they provide on the Translink Web site? I mean, can I assume that “Richmond-Brighouse” is located by Brighouse Park, which Google Maps tells me is located at Granville & #3? How close is Lansdowne to Lansdowne Mall? And so on. The route map graphic looks like it was designed by a slow-witted 12-year-old. Anyone unfamiliar with the areas the line passes through wouldn’t have the slightest idea what streets, attractions or even neighbourhoods are near to any of the stations. Two billion plus and this is the best they can do?

    I guess I’ll have to ride out and direct my wife in by cellphone once I arrive. The lack of practical information on the Web site of a project both as big and as heavily hyped as this one is inexcusable. It’s not like they lacked time to prepare, so why does the site look like it was slapped together in about three days?Have these people ever heard of interactive Web sites and maps? Or of linking to Google Maps? Their site design is strictly amateur night–just pathetic.
    gmgw

  • Delia

    Better maps will come to the website soon I imagine. The Canada Line’s stations are clearly located on maps in the Sept. 7 bus schedules.

  • jesse

    Having single entrances to the stations may have saved money but I guarantee it will slow down traffic as more pedestrians need to cross to the single entrance. The right-hand-turn traffic at the station corners will take up a whole lane of traffic and pose hazards for cyclists.

    The bus hookups with the stations are piss-poor compared to the previous lines. I hope Translink will improve things.

    As for those thinking the Skytrain is good for Vancouver, well, of COURSE it is but so are free chocolate dispensers at every major intersection and back rubs while I’m waiting for a bus. Doesn’t mean this line was the best use of my money. Personally I would love to look at Queen E park on my ride into work and not have to imagine it.

    On a related note I appreciate the extended crosstown express bus services. There is nothing worse than having to rely on an extended milk run as part of a commute to make one start shopping for cars.

  • jesse

    “Anyone unfamiliar with the areas the line passes through wouldn’t have the slightest idea what streets, attractions or even neighbourhoods are near to any of the stations.”

    This is a common schematic system used by other major lines, especially in Europe. I think they likely considered putting in full schematics into the cars but it probably got too crowded. The system still relies on express accordion buses as part of the superior vascular system so adding them all up can get messy. Best to leave them at the stations.

    I would suggest they put neighbourhood maps at the stations like in London and Paris. Tres useful.

  • gmgw

    “I would suggest they put neighbourhood maps at the stations like in London and Paris. Tres useful.”

    Exactly what I had in mind, Jesse. Although it would be dead easy to do the same on the Web site (eg. click on a station and get all pertinent info for that station, noting the nearest cross street, connecting buses if any, et. al.).

    Having now ridden the line, I found it bemusing to contemplate the sight of its terminus on #3 Road, not quite opposite Richmond Centre (so much for that station’s titular “Brighouse”). The south end of the station rests on half a pylon, presumably in case they decide to extend it some day. In any case, the sign that now adorns that pylon touting “24 minutes to downtown” (it took 25 minutes from Olympic Village station– what an unwieldy name– to Brighouse, BTW), should, it seems to me be changed to read “Here’s where we ran out of money”. Or maybe a commemorative cairn could be erected on the sidewalk, like the Last Spike historical marker at Craigellechie.

    My overall impression is that the Canada Line feels rather like an adolescent, stunted version of the subways/Metros in “big” cities. As if one day it will achieve some kind of maturity (or even puberty), but for now this is all we’re going to get, and we’re expected to be grateful. Its tiny station platforms, narrow tunnels and small cars serve their purpose, I guess– but after all the sturm and drang of the past few years I expected something more… impressive, somehow. Oh well, what the hell…
    gmgw

  • jesse

    gmgw I think those who have taken transit in big cities will feel weird standing at the platforms barely 2 cars long. During rush hour in larger cities the main line trains come every 4-5 minutes and the platforms are very long in comparison: there is significantly more ridership compared to what the current Canada Line stations are sized. I wouldn’t be surprised if there are expansion hooks in place for when longer cars are required. Maybe they can add a few more entrances while they’re at it.

    My wife and I rode the line together one evening and we both looked at each other and shrugged our shoulders. Meh. I hope that means the taxpayers didn’t overpay. Judging by the ridership I think the stations are adequately sized for ridership in the foreseeable future as long as they can add more trains during peak hours, and not every second one need go to YVR.

  • Stephanie

    Best thread ever. I wandered into Waterfront Station a few days ago, trying to get off the gravel on Granville and cut through to Gastown. Went down the stairs and said, “huh, it’s a little subway.” Small platform, clean, nothing particularly interesting. Sure, it’s nice to have a subway and all, but it seems like an awful lot of fuss, bother, money and boosterism for what’s really just garden-variety public transit.

  • gmgw

    Maybe what the Canada Line needs is an appealing nickname; in the same wasy that taking a Greyhound bus is often referred to as “ridin’ the Hound”, and the Fraser bus, at certain times of the day, has been known as the “Vomit Comet”, perhaps we can propose that, in acknowledgement of its rather petite size, the Canada Line be henceforth known as the “Pocket Rocket”.

    I’m willing to entertain other suggestions. No prizes will be offered.
    gmgw