Haha…I am over a month behind on my post here. I’ve been sitting on tons of photos. The summer gives a lot of opportunity to take pictures, but it’s a pain to sort, organize, and post-process them. Plus, the recent heat wave didn’t help because I did not want to sit in front of my computer trying to work through a blog post.
It wasn’t an overly hot day, but warm enough that I didn’t want to stay outdoors for too long. However, I did suckered into a giveaway line. It looked like the line lead to an Olympic themed table. However, it was apparently a beauty department table giving away fragrance samples. Nice sample, but I didn’t really want to stand in the sun for 5 minutes.
The festival was a nice use of the usually vacant plaza at Cambie and 41st Avenue. There was a performance stage and lots of booths with handouts. When I first arrived, there was a martial arts demonstration complete with nunchuks. Later on, there was a trio of older gents belting out possibly Yiddish music. I’m not totally sure. I think they had a Jewish-themed music of some sort. It was pretty catchy. The one thing about the plaza, though, is that it is a very uneven pavement. There’s even a sign that warns people about how uneven the ground is.
One of the things I thought about when they first talked about the Richmond-Airport-Vancouver (RAV) line was about how they could transform the plaza at 41st and Cambie. Obviously, the mall and InTransitBC have taken the cheaper approach of very little change. I thought they could have sunk the plaza deeper to match the platform level. Or they could have created a graduated slope throughout the plaza so that the slope would lead people to the Canada Line platform. I think some sort of plaza integration would have been creative opportunity for new public space. Unfortunately, the new Canada Line station is not even integrated into the mall in anyway.
As it currently stands, there will only be one main entrance into the station. This entry is on the southwest corner where the Oakridge Centre plaza is. To save costs, they have installed only up escalators and down staircases in the station. I believe the system is all like this with a few exceptions, namely YVR station. Unfortunately for a person in a wheelchair, the elevator was not in service yet. So the open house was far from accessible. I even saw parents carry their baby strollers up and down the stairs that day.
There is a large lobby area that greets you once you are at the platform level. They had a few tables set up at the open house. A couple of them were TransLink related tables. One table, however, belonged to Jugo Juice. A Jugo Juice representative told me that there will be Jugo Juice at every Canada Line station from 41st to Waterfront. That’s pretty impressive. I hope the venture works out.
These in-station shops are partly a by-product of Kevin Falcon’s visit to Hong Kong and seeing that the MTR stations there are teeming with shops. The new Canada Line stations are nothing compared to a Hong Kong MTR station. Hong Kong MTR trains are about 40 doors long, if I remember correctly. That makes the trains 3-4x longer than a regular 4-car old SkyTrain. So a Hong Kong station is easily 3-4 times larger than any SkyTrain station in town. Canada Line stations are even smaller than a regular SkyTrain station. So we will likely see less than a handful of shops in any new Canada Line station.
Directly behind the lobby at the same level is the southbound platform for trains going to Richmond and YVR. Currently, there are no gates that separate the lobby from the platforms. With all the talk about gates, I’m sure the gates will come eventually. Not sure when, though. However, seeing that the trains are right there in plain view from the lobby, I can envision people jumping the gates just to try and get to the train.
I think few people realize that a couple of the new stations (namely Oakridge and Langara Stations) require passengers to go through an underpass to reach the opposite platform. Pictured above are the stairs to the underpass to reach the northbound platform. So anyone wanting to go north to Broadway or Downtown from this station will have to run under the tracks and then up again on the other side.
This design with the underpass was meant to save money. By building most of the tracks closer to the ground via cut-and-cover, InTransitBC was able to save costs. A larger hole that would have accommodated a deeper tunnel and a mezzanine level for shops, gates, and ticket machines would have been a lot more expensive and take longer to build. This particular design was on the design boards for public consultation. It was obvious at that time that the underpass was set in stone for the design. I personally really don’t like having to run under the tracks to get to the other platform. Some Toronto subway stations (Dundas and Queen Stations on the Yonge Line) have a similar underpass design. When I lived in Toronto, I found it a pain in the butt if I was lugging around something large in those stations.
Some of you may have already seen the new Canada Line trains running along the tracks above Richmond. According to the Buzzer Blog, the trains are running the full schedule to warm up for opening day. That’s pretty exciting to me. What you see in the picture, though, is what you get for the train. It is about the same length as a new Mark II SkyTrain. The station is only the length of the train. So again, the Canada Line stations are really small compared even to our original SkyTrain stations. The smaller stations definitely save money in the short run, but if the line becomes popular like the Expo Line, then we will have to put down some significant coin to upgrade the stations.
The interior of the train is significantly wider than even a new SkyTrain. Two people could get past each other even between the seats. Many who come from Hong Kong may feel a slight sense of familiarity with these trains. The trains were built by Rotem-Hyundai of Korea who also builds many of the new MTR trains in Hong Kong. The seats here are forward or backwards facing with some upholstery. In Hong Kong, there would be only steel benches lining the sides and everyone else has to stand. North American sensibility says that we like to sit facing forward. Practicality would have dictated that the benches are sufficient and then you can fit more passengers on the train.
Near the bendy articulation portion of the train is a huge empty space. I suspect this will be where bicycles and luggage can be placed while riding the train. I’m not sure if this will double as a wheelchair spot or not. I really should have asked one of the staff on hand, but I was busy snapping photos. One of my friends who rides the West Coast Express told me that bicycle spots are where the fold-down courtesy seats. She hates having to ask a person to vacate that seat just for her bike. However, given the nature of the WCE, she can’t just wait for the next train. She has to find a spot to safely park the bicycle while the train is moving. So I’m not sure if these spaces will have the same issues. However, the Canada Line trains run every 5-10 minutes, so waiting for the next train is not as a big an issues as it is with the WCE.
Here’s a shot of the tunnel looking south. This is the southbound tunnel. So the trains will go along this tunnel to Langara and Marine Drive Stations in Vancouver, then onto Richmond or YVR. The yellow rail to the left side should be the “third rail” or the power rail. So heaven forbid, if you ever fall into the tracks, do not touch the yellow rail. This a big difference compared to SkyTrain tracks on the Expo and Millennium Lines. Those lines use special Bombardier Linear Induction Motor technology which places a huge metal power plate in the middle of the track. The Canada Line tracks use more conventional and cheaper technology to power their trains.
Unfortunately, I couldn’t get a clear shot of the train head or tail. Only the head and tail are coloured in the Canada Line blue and green colours. A lot of people ask why they didn’t colour the trains red. A logical question to me since somebody in the powers that be insisted that the line be called the Canada Line. The answer that I heard is that the blue and green colour design were always planned since they are West Coast colours. Never mind that we have an Evergreen Line on the drawing board which will likely be coloured green on our future maps. In any case, the red would have been kind of cliche in my opinion. The blue and green are nice.
I actually didn’t take a photo of the new transit connections map, but I got this one from Tafyrn of Canada Line Photography Blog. The Canada Lne is coloured as greenish-blue line now. The Expo Line continues to be dark blue and Millennium Line is yellow. All the B-Line and major express buses are now coloured orange instead of the green on current transit maps. Included in the orange lines are also connections to the ferry terminals.
All the lines look impressive on paper, but how well will the system run with the pending budget shortfall. We may have built ourselves into the red with the Canada Line. We can only hope that ridership will be higher than expected. TransLink will have to pay for any shortfall in numbers and revenue to the private operating partner.
As for a trip to the airport, rumours seem to suggest that there will be an extra $2.50 surcharge for taking the train to Sea Island. So coming out of Vancouver, that would mean that you pay your $3.75 2-zone fare, plus another $2.50. A total of $6.25 to the airport. [Out of Richmond, I suspect it will be 1-zone fare of $2.50 plus the surcharge for a total of $5.00.] That’s okay if you are a single rider. For two people, the cost of $12.50 may cause some people to think twice about taking the train to YVR.
According to the TransLink Canada Line rider page, there will a YVR Add Fare exempt trial period. So the first few months of operation will likely not have any surcharge until 2010. I don’t mind paying the surcharge if I ever have to go to YVR to catch a plane. Unfortunately, you’re not getting any special service for the surcharge. Some places have nicer trains running to the airports for the extra cost. I don’t forsee that happening here.
To end today’s post, I’ll show you the way out … er … exit. Isn’t “exit” easier to understand than “way out”?