I finally had the chance to ride Vancouver’s latest addition to its rapid transit system, the Canada Line. This line runs from Waterfront in downtown Vancouver before branching off to the west to YVR Airport, or south to Richmond-Brighouse. I brought my camera along, so many of pictures I took are available on Gallery.
Even though the Canada Line opened last Monday, people were still crowding the platforms to catch a ride. Considering this was a Sunday afternoon, most of the station platforms were pretty packed, although it was good to see people out and exploring the new system and taking the initiative in planning future commutes.
Inside the train
The train cars are much wider and feature lots of room for bicycles, strollers and wheelchairs. There are more stanchions for standing passengers and the seats are pretty comfortable. The seats have more leg room to store excess baggage instead of taking up seating space or obstructing the aisle. As an aid for noisy commutes, there are interior digital destination signs announcing the next and terminal stations. What really is noticeable, is how quiet and smooth the ride is. It’s hard to determine when the train starts up until you look out the window and “Hey, we’re moving!” This smooth ride is quite possibly the highlight of the trip. The same safety features — the yellow silent alarm strip on the windows and speaker phone by the doors are still there for those familiar with the setup on SkyTrain. However, these are not SkyTrain cars, so don’t expect to see them making the run out to Surrey or into Burnaby — the Canada Line cars were built using different technology by the Korean group, Hyundai/ROTEM. Looking at the tracks, the familiar aluminum centre “rail” is missing, and the dual third rail used for power is a single rail, so it’s incompatible with the existing Millennium and Expo Lines.
The platforms at all stations are short, as all the trains are basically two cars. There isn’t much room to expand running four car trains because it would be a tight fit, and six car trains are totally out of the question. The stations are each unique featuring a lot of steel, glass, concrete and some wood for ceiling decorations (except in the subway stations). There are lots of signs designating exits, waiting areas, safety processes, but the lettering for the station names are pretty small, while all other text sizes are much more visible.
If you get a chance, go take a ride. The Canada Line is a two-zone trip, but try and catch a ride outside of peak hours to make use of the lower fares and avoid possible crowds. Existing Fare Savers and transfers work with the Canada Line, so there’s no need to purchase different tickets or cards.