Archive for the ‘Skytrain’ Category

Five ways to improve the Skytrain


The Skytrain made $2.72 million dollars last year [vp]. Yet it’s far from perfect, even if you ignore the Canada Line construction leaving Cambie Street as barren as the surface of Mars. So like anyone who has just arrived back in town after some time spent in Europe I’ve got a few ideas on how we could make things better.

i) install turnstiles: Let’s face it quite a few people ride the Skytrain for free. I’ve done the math and if you’re lucky you can actually save money just paying the Skytrain fines the odd time tickets are actually checked. Turnstiles, like the London Underground, won’t stop the free rides completely, but it’ll cut it down on the problem quite a lot.

ii) shit can the cops: With less people sneaking on, and less homeless and/or dangerously intoxicated people riding the Skytrain for a way to pass time and keep warm at night, we don’t need the well armed cops who are basically just mall security with guns. The Vancouver Police Department and the RCMP in the non-Vancouver areas should be able to handle the line just fine. Maybe give them a bit of that 2.72 million in profits that the train is earning to help cover their costs.

The Skytrain on Canada smells like the inside of a beer can

Two Skytrain Bridges

Originally uploaded by dooda.

I hate Canada Day. Sure there is a lot of good things associated with it like celebrating our great nation and the number of new Canadian citizens that take the pledges and are sworn into our multicultural social fabric, but the fact is it’s mostly just a drinking holiday.

You can tell drinking holidays because a) they’re not religious and b) they have fireworks.

Riding home on the Skytrain after work was like being wedged into a beer can. A woman kept trying to push past me, though there was no more room on my other side than the side she was on, and kept loudly repeating “Move. Move, move.” I did not try to explain that moving was impossible given the fact that there was nowhere to move to.

I ended up getting off the train at Main Street / Science World and waiting for the next train which was moderately less busy.

I know our culture seems best defined by Molson Canadian commercials, but can we not at least avoid turning out national holiday into just an excuse for public vomiting? Or am I just a cranky old koot?

The slow day

I think the combination of the Sun Run yesterday and the Canucks overtime win last night just took all the fight out of this city. Not only is apparently nothing non-hockey related becoming blog worthy, but downtown is a ghost town. Well as ghost town as it ever gets, but it’s definitly not as bust as it normally is. My co-worker said that he had never seen the Skytrain going downtown as empty in the morning as he did today.

And don’t tell me it’s the rain, this is Vancouver rain to us is like sunshine to people from Arizona.

If you need something to get you going today I present you with last night’s game winning goal. Now go out and spend some money downtown so I can eat dinner.

SkyTrain Accidents: Public News or Private Concern?


Last night at roughly 6pm, due to what was deemed by Translink staff a “Serious Medical Emergency at the Burrard Station,” all Skytrain service on one rail was ceased between the Stadium and Waterfront Stations, and train service continued via a shuttle-style line on the remaining rail back and forth between Stadium and Waterfront for the next three hours or so.

Although the traditional news media have been quiet about the incident, the occurrence was caused by a person on the tracks being hit by a train, according to several reports on the Discover Vancouver forums. Police, paramedics, and the coroner spent several hours on the tracks themselves and examining the train which had been involved. No reports were certain whether the incident was accidental, malicious, or a suicide attempt, or knew for sure the medical outcome of the person involved.

Police and TransLink officials tend not to release details of SkyTrain incidents, purportedly to prevent additional copycat incidents, and presumably to some degree out of respect for the victims (for example, in the reports of two shootings earlier this week [cbc].

Any accidents involving a human vs. a light rail train are by nature pretty horrific, and my compassion goes out to anyone directly related to the incident (primarily to the victim and his/her family and acquaintances, but also to any observers, given that this kind of thing can be pretty traumatic).

But my curiosity was also piqued with regard to the role of the media in accidents such as these. The victim and family have a right to anonymity, of course, but to what extent do the people affected in various ways by the occurrence have a right to know what happened? If their commute is delayed by 20 minutes or so, is knowledge whether the nature of the delay was management-related, mechanical, or medical adequate? Do they have the right to know, if medical, if the person survived? Or at which point does this cross over from the need-to-know (for example if it were useful in preventing future incidents or could be perceived as important for people who wanted to avoid a dangerous area) to the morbidly nosy?

It Is an Offense!


In the past week or so, the SkyTrain electronic message boards have supplemented their typical elevator outages and trivia answers (I still maintain the same knack for never ever seeing the initial questions, so for all I know the answers are all that are displayed) and so on with new warnings something to the tune of the following:

“It is an offense to buy a transfer or pass from anyone other than a vending machine or other authorized dealer. It is also an offense to give your used transfer or pass to any other person.”

Nothing anyone didn’t already know, really, but it’s interesting to suddenly have the stern warning.

I never can figure out the patterns of SkyTrain fare enforcement in general, but after literally months of seeing no one checking tickets, I’ve noticed police and TransLink staff checking tickets probably five times in the past two weeks. Bigger crackdown on fare cheating?

Skytrain, even LA wants one

It might be a little late but we (Vancouver) got name checked on Blogging LA [bla] back before Christmas. Basically the post’s author Jillian was comparing LA’s public transportation system with ours and Seattle’s. Now we all know that Seattle can’t even run six feet of monorail track without crashing the cars into each other, but what about LA?

Well it seems that Ray Bradbury has chimed in to their debate:

“Ray Bradbury even said, L.A. needs a monorail, not a subway. The other three biggest cities on the West Coast – Vancouver, Seattle, San Francisco – all have monorails or above ground trains as their rapid transit (SkyTrain, the Seattle Monorail, BART). These may go underground when necessary, but the majority of the tracks are above ground – far cheaper to build. And far nicer to look at – the Gold Line scenery is absolutely gorgeous. As Bradbury said, we’re used to traveling above ground, in the sunshine.”

Random? Oh yes. But next time you’re thinking about how annoying the construction around the new Skytrain line is, just think we could be LA.

Or even Seattle.

Metroblogging Poll: Possible Skytrain Strike

This week, many people may not be able to get to work on time. Some may jump into conspiracy theory mode saying that the hour-long “breakdown” last week and during the snow storm was all building up to this.

SkyTrain could be hit by a strike as early as the end of next week, the Canadian Union of Public Employees said today. CUPE Local 7000, which represents 516 SkyTrain attendants, control operators, skilled trades, maintenance and clerical staff, said its members voted 90 per cent in favour of strike action. [VancouverSun]

This brings us to our poll (a little experiment of mine on Metblogs Vancouver).

free poll How will you get around (out n’ about or to work) if there is a Skytrain strike?
I’ll have to drive (although all routes will turn into parking lots)
I’ll have to walk (using my own two legs like a sucker)
I’ll have to bus (although who’s to say they won’t do a sympathy strike)
I’ll shut myself in my home and not leave until it’s over
I dunno, I’ll just be SCREWED

RIP, Granville Station Florist

Granville Station Florist, RIP

No more cheerful, flowery commute.

No more smell of roses on the train platforms on Valentines Day.


Granville SkyTrain Station Update

The all new Dunsmuir Exit

Curious about my previous question whether the new Granville Station SkyTrain wing would have enough traffic to fill its new shop spaces, I made a short detour to enter the station via the new entrance this morning.

Granted, it’s only been two days, so a lot of people haven’t figured it out yet, and most people I’m sure enter and exit the station the same way they always have simply out of habit, but in the probably 3-4 minutes of walking through the length of the new wing, I think I saw a total of four other people.

The pre-existing hallways were packed wall-to-wall with morning commuters.

The contrast was striking.

The real fun part, however, came when I emerged from the new archway onto the eastbound train platform, which was already full of people. A sleepy-looking man in a business suit spun around and stared at me as if I’d just sprung fully-grown from the head of Zeus. He then squinted his eyes and peered up the new hallway trying to figure out where it led to, presumably. I smiled at him, and gave him my best “I’d tell you, but I’d have to kill you” look.

The temptation to try for another reaction tomorrow morning but this time wearing a funny hat or a full body chicken suit is almost too good to pass up.

It’s not exactly a gallery opening. . . .

SkyTrain Dunsmuir Exit

. . . but it still seems pretty exciting for some reason. The all new Dunsmuir Street exit from the Granville Street SkyTrain station is now open.

For months I’d puzzled at how the little openings near the tracks on both the eastbound and westbound levels could make their way up the huge depth to the street level at Dunsmuir in such a small space. Is it elevator only? Is it a zig-zag of little escalators?

The answer: it’s not a small space. At all.

When I stepped off the train last night at around 10:15pm and saw the sign indicating that the new exit was now open, I couldn’t resist the temptation to check it out. What I found was a small lobby at westbound train level, with eerily sparkling clean signs and transit maps (and a small escalator down to the eastbound level), followed by a huge escalator which rivals the Escalator of Doom in size (a prize offered to anyone who can determine which is actually taller?), and then the biggest surprise: another small lobby with short escalator up to Dunsmuir, but a large westward branch with a chequered tile floor and spaces for a number of shops and businesses, which ultimately joins up with the Granville Street door right next to The Bay’s optometry clinic.

I don’t even remember there being a door there. Maybe it was a garage style folding door?

At any rate, I’ll be curious whether the new wing gains enough traffic to fill its new shops.

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