I got lucky today after work and boarded one of the new Mark II SkyTrains in their gunmetal grey and coastal blue with yellow trim. Car 306 is pictured above and I got onto Car 309 at Broadway Station destined for King George.
How did I know the car was going to King George? Well, here are the big changes on the new trains. First, the front window now has a display of the destination. So where the red brake light usually is, there’s the display of the destination. Nice change. Maybe less people will get on the wrong train.
On the inside, the system map now has LED lights that tell you which stations are coming up. So I got on at Broadway and the Broadway Station light was blinking. All the stations from Nanaimo to King George were all lit up to note that this train is bound for King George. Very nice touch. I got a kick out of the expression of one guys face as he saw the new system map. Hong Kong’s MTR has had this kind of system map for many years now, so I guess we’re catching up. I hope the Canada Line trains will have a similar set up.
My other favourite new features are passive features. They’ve totally redesigned the poles and rails. One notices quickly that the poles are all yellow. Not a big thing. Aesthetically, I could see some people taking issue with that. However, the poles are not as curvaceous as the poles on the old Mark IIs. They are straighter, but not totally straight. One of my beefs with the old Mark IIs is that the poles curve away too much from the people who need to use them most. Now, the new Mark IIs should be easier to hold onto a pole when necessary. Also, they’ve added additional horizontal poles for people to hold onto. There is one pole right in the middle just below the ceiling that runs the length of the car. Then there are two more horizontal poles that are just above the seats on either side.
In terms of seating, the number of seats look to be less. One side has two seats and the other side has only one side. That’s bad in some ways, but it makes it a whole lot easier to get around people a lot easier. One of the difficult things about the old Mark II seat arrangment was trying to get around people when they are standing between the seats. The upholstery is also totally different.
The train was pretty full, so I didn’t get a full look at everything like the accordion mid-section of the train. However, I must give an enthusiastic thumbs-up to the new Mark II SkyTrains. I’ve been on a Canada Line train once during the Oakridge open house. That one was really spacious, but we’ll see how the train operates with a car full of passengers. That’ll be the real test. I can’t wait for Labour Day. [I am such a transit geek]