There’s been a flurry of transit related news this past week. Most of it about funding transit from the local Metro level and the BC provincial level. I haven’t had time to sift through the numbers, let alone blog!
So let me work on something that’s a bit more tangible and easier for me to blog quickly about. My local SkyTrain station is under reconstruction. The whole east stationhouse is being rebuilt.
If you travel along the Expo Line in Metro Vancouver, you may have noticed some major station upgrades underway. The most obvious upgrade at this moment is happening at Main Street Station. However, big changes are also afoot at Metrotown Station.
Main Street Station has been under renovation for the past few months. The whole east end of the station has been cut off under the cover of renovation and upgrade for a few months now. I currently pass through Main Street Station every morning. The whole east end of the station looks like it’s been extended out. I can’t tell if they are adding escalators or not, though. However, something that has been missing since the opening of the Expo Line way back in the 80’s is now being added to the station. An enclosure. For the first time ever, there will be a semi-enclosed structure around Main Street Station. Originally, the station was left to be totally open to allow for drivers along Main Street to have a view of the North Shore mountains (heaven knows why we still cater to drivers’ views when they are busy trying to navigate the street at eye-level).
The big disruption will come later in 2014 when they close the west side of the station for renovations. Service will only be single-track in the station itself. Expect some hefty delays at that time, especially if you are trying to access Main Street Station itself. This will be a good test of how TransLink deals with wayfinding for passengers trying to figure out this temporary set up. Good luck.
At Metrotown Station, the changes have not quite started yet, but major plans and renderings were discussed by Vancity Buzz. The station looks to increase its footprint by a fair margin. There are 3 planned entrances to the station – east, centre, and west entrances are all to be added to or upgraded. One other rendering shows a set of four escalators. That will be a relief since there is currently only one up escalator serving the whole station at the moment.
One of the major changes that travellers in and out of the station will miss, though, is the removal of the pedestrian overpass. TransLink plans to move the bus exchange off the shopping mall property of Metropolis At Metrotown and onto street level along Central Boulevard and Beresford Street. So the overpass is no longer necessary to access the buses. However, the pedestrian overpass was also key for getting into the shopping mall itself. It’s not as going to be as easy to get to the mall from the station without the overpass. Imagine all those shoppers crossing Central Boulevard just to get in the mall. I’m not sure what traffic is going to look after that overpass is removed.
Joyce and Commercial-Broadway Stations are also slated to undergo major renovations. Some of these are still in the planning phase at the moment. For now, Main Street Station’s changes are well under way. Metrotown’s changes should start to take place soon in 2014.
It looks like re:place magazine is on the ball with this one. I picked up my copy of the mini brochure with the summary of changes, but you should read the re:place article. It gives good detail and references back to the TransLink study about transit villages around SkyTrain stations that helped decide what upgrades needed to be done.
A quick summary of the upgrades to be done include:
- New entrance and elevator on the 10th Avenue side
- Removal of the elevator on the north end of the platform to create more room for passengers crossing the overhead passage to Commercial Drive Station and the B-Line stop.
- More shops on the ground floor
- Replacing the metal mesh with glass to provide improved visibility
Things I’d like to see done in and around the station:
- A new complex on the southeast corner where the CIBC now sits. There was a plan for a new building there at one time. However, because the new building would not provide parking to the bank (since there is such high foot traffic), the bank gave a thumbs down. They require a minimum number of parking spots according to the bank’s policy. I heard this at a talk at SFU once.
- Redevelopment of the Safeway site to be more multi-purpose. More retail shops and offices could go on that site. However, it’s proximity to the Grandview Cut could cause issues with how big the structure would be.
- Better integration of the station into future surrounding retail complexes.
There’s my two cents for what it’s worth.