August 17, 2009 – opening day for the Canada Line. Unfortunately for me, it was on Monday. Fortunately for TransLink, they planned it on a Monday. The line ups were crazy even for a Monday. Imagine if they did the fare free day on the weekend. I don’t remember the Millennium Line’s fare-free day being so busy.
I couldn’t get off work until 5pm. My poor wife had to wait 45 minutes for me before I was ready to leave work. We were originally thinking of going to Broadway-City Hall and getting on there, but word was that it was really busy there. We decided to drive down towards Oakridge. As we swung by the station, we could see a little line up forming outside. We ex-nayed Oakridge. We kept going south along Cambie to Marine Drive. There was no line up in sight there so we decided to find parking about 2 blocks away and walked to the station.
At Marine Drive, one of the first things I noticed was the two YVR check-in kiosks. I guess it beats lining up at YVR to check in. I wanted a head on shot of the kiosk, but the sun was starting to make its westward descent and was totally making the screen hard to read. I didn’t see any of the YVR kiosks at the Oakridge Open House, so I wonder which stations have these check-in kiosks.
A Canada Line staffer in his bright green fleece vest and shirt was answering quite a few questions. The platform was amply busy, but not full.
The train was taking a little while so I walked the platform. I really like these new displays. Why? Because they have really useful information now. The SkyTrain ones keep repeating the same elevator closures that have been going on for months. So our train was about to arrive in 5 minutes. So if our train was full, I would have to wait an extra 6 minutes for the next Richmond train. It’s good that I get the time so I can choose to take my chances and wait for the second train or try to pile into the first train.
A few of the Canada Line trains already have adwraps all over them. I’ve already seen another one for Oakridge Centre. I guess the River Rock has enough money to keep that adwrap on the train permanently.
Here’s our train for the day. It was pretty full when it arrived, but thankfully, quite a few people disembarked at Marine Drive and we were able to get on the train. Even at full, the interior is quite large. My wife and I could stand side by side in the aisle with a pair of seats on either side. Way wider than a SkyTrain. My only complaint is that there are enough places to hold onto for shorter folk like me. There are currently no overhead bars or loops available.
We didn’t get off at Bridgeport, but that station looked pretty busy. It’s a great station for the casino crowd. It looks like River Rock also added some new giant sized posters outside of their new parking lot for drawing in more people. All I managed to get a picture of was the Bridgeport name sign through the window.
We got off at Aberdeen Station because we were hungry and aiming to go to a restaurant that a friend had recommended. I managed to capture a quick shot of our train as it continued its way south to Richmond Centre.
The line up on the street to get into the station was really long. It looked like most of Richmond came out after work and school to try the line. The line already looked like 1.5 – 2.0 hours long when we exited the station. We were just hoping that on the way back, the line would be better.
We went to dinner after getting off. We went a small place called Cafe de Waraku. It’s a Japanese-style Italian restaurant. I guess the nori seawood topping on the pasta and the stirfry makes it Japanese-style. I’m not sure. Taste-wise, it was okay. However, the meals were amazingly light after finishing. It must be a combination of the olive oil and no MSG in their cooking. The restaurant wasn’t that busy at 6pm on a Monday night, but perhaps the new Canada Line will help to bring customers their way.
After dinner, we walked through Aberdeen Mall for a little bit until it closed at 7pm. We walked back to Aberdeen Station and the line was still as long as it was an hour ago. We searched out the end of the line to discover a young volunteer standing there. She was there with a pylon and sadly informing people that the line was cut off and that we’d have to take the bus back.
So we walked down to the B-Line bus stop. Got on the 98. It was pretty full after we got on and the bus passed up those waiting at Capstan Way. At Airport Station, I spotted the #100 in the bay and we quickly got off the 98 and got on the 100. The 100 is a twisty route through Marpole and it took at least 20 minutes to get from Aberdeen to Marine Drive. Whereas if we were on the train, it would have taken about 5-7 minutes at most.
And that marked the end of our opening day experience. A short ride on the new line. I will definitely try it out more in the days to come. I have a bus pass, so no worries for me hopping on and hopping off.