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The Buzzer rides the Canada Line!

Wow — I got to ride the Canada Line today!

We’ve only just recently been able to arrange a tour, so here I am with lots of photo and video to give you a great preview of the line. For example, watch the video above to see the Canada Line train pull into Waterfront Station!

Quick overview: we hopped on and rode south to Richmond-Brighouse. Then we went back up, transferred at Bridgeport to ride to YVR, then went back to Waterfront again. The Canada Line is currently testing its cars on the real schedule, so trains arrived fairly frequently. Today it apparently had a higher than 99% on-time rate, and yesterday it was 99.8%!


The entrance to the Canada Line's Waterfront Station. It's inside the current Waterfront Station, on the southwest corner of the building.

The entrance to the Canada Line's Waterfront Station. It's inside the current Waterfront Station, on the southwest corner of the building.

Let’s back up a bit so I can show you some of Canada Line’s Waterfront Station. Above is where one of its entrances is located, in the southwest corner of the current Waterfront Station. The other entrance is on Granville Street.

Remember, click all the pictures to see a larger version!

The concourse at Canada Line's Waterfront station. The entrance to the platform is on the far right.

The concourse at Canada Line's Waterfront station. The entrance to the platform is on the far right.

Here’s a panoramic photo of the concourse level of the station, where you buy your tickets. Basically, once you go down the escalator into the station, you reach the concourse level.

Ticket vending machines at Canada Line's Waterfront Station.

Ticket vending machines at Canada Line's Waterfront Station.

Here are the ticket vending machines — they’re slightly different than the ones at our current stations.

Platform at Canada Line's Waterfront Station!

Platform at Canada Line's Waterfront Station!

Ignore the disappearing guy on the left — here’s a panoramic of Waterfront Station! Our train, which you saw in the first video, arrived on the right hand side of this photo.

Now here’s where the fun begins: Canada Line video! Check out this video of our train heading southbound in the tunnel—it’s so sci-fi.

I have to say the ride is very smooth, and much smoother in comparison to our current SkyTrain line. That’s because the current SkyTrain uses linear induction motors, a form of technology requiring the trains to sit quite low and stay in contact with the rails, generating power and a bit of vibration. The Canada Line trains ride higher and are powered by conventional electric motors, allowing the cars to feel less of the vibration from the tracks.

Oh also, sorry that you can see us in all of the video — it’s dark down there, so the window reflects our tour group in all our safety gear.

Here’s another, longer view of the tunnel, between Yaletown and Olympic Village Stations. This is the deepest part of the Canada Line, 30 metres below the surface, running under False Creek! (The voice talking about the depth of the tunnel in the video is Alan Dever from Canada Line, who gave us the tour.)

Now here’s a video of the tunnel between Olympic Village and Broadway-City Hall Stations. Do you notice how it’s square instead of round now? That’s because cut-and-cover was used to build this part of the tunnel. The part under downtown Vancouver was built by a boring machine tunneling through the ground, which created a round tunnel.

Here’s a video of the curvy tunnel between Broadway-City Hall and Oakridge-41st Avenue Stations. Check out the LED indicator above the front window, showing the next station and the last station!

And here’s the train coming out of the ground, heading away from Langara-49th Station toward Marine Drive Station. It’s a bit freaky! And as you ride the train, you realize just how much of the tunnel is actually underground — basically half our full journey was completely below the surface.

Now we’re approaching Marine Drive Station. It’s so nice to be above ground!

And here we are passing another train as we leave Marine Drive Station.

And finally we reached the terminus at Richmond-Brighouse, as you can see above.

The end of the Canada Line at Richmond-Brighouse.

The end of the Canada Line at Richmond-Brighouse.

We got out at Richmond-Brighouse to get a feel for the station. I took a photo of the end of the line, which sort of juts out into nowhere. I don’t think you can really do anything too fancy with the end of a train track though :)

Richmond-Brighouse Station

Richmond-Brighouse Station

Richmond-Brighouse just has a single track, to make less impact on the streetscape below and to save on costs.

Insanely long escalator at Richmond-Brighouse Station!

Insanely long escalator at Richmond-Brighouse Station!

Richmond-Brighouse also has an insanely long escalator! Granville Station’s escalator is probably longer but this one is still quite epic.

So, we had to catch another train to go back to Bridgeport Station and switch to the YVR line. That’s how you access the airport if you’re starting in Richmond. Here’s our train pulling into Richmond-Brighouse — it just changes direction and takes you back up to Bridgeport!

First ticket on the Canada Line!

First ticket on the Canada Line!

While at Bridgeport Station, we saw the ticket vending machines appeared to be online — so one of the tour members plugged in some cash and got a ticket! We’re calling this the very first purchased ticket on the Canada Line. (I’m not sure if they will all be printed like that, which is different from our current ticket machines — but I’ll check with someone on Monday!)

The train we took to YVR and then back to Waterfront.

The train we took to YVR and then back to Waterfront.

We hopped this train to YVR. It was still all wrapped up in protective plastic and cardboard! There were two Canada Line attendants who were already onboard, riding the train during its test period.

Here we are heading toward Templeton Station, where YVR’s employee parking and long-term parking will be built. You can hear Alan Dever from Canada Line explain how this is the biggest station on the entire line.

Here we are heading into Sea Island Centre! Listen to the audio on this one — Alan Dever from Canada Line explains why it was built at-grade (at street level) instead of elevated.

And here we are going into YVR-Airport Station!

Oh, I really should mention that the voice for all of the Canada Line announcements IS Laureen Regan, the voice of our current SkyTrain announcements! Here’s my podcast interview with Laureen, if you haven’t heard it.

The North Arm Bridge, as seen from the train! This is going to make for lots of beautiful photos :)

The North Arm Bridge, as seen from the train! This is going to make for lots of beautiful photos :)

After YVR, we took the ride all the way back to Waterfront. (The train just changes direction and heads back to downtown Vancouver.) On the way back to Waterfront, we crossed the North Arm Bridge and I caught this shot. It’s so pretty when you ride over it!

Sitting on the train, looking through the enormous front window.

Sitting on the train, looking through the enormous front window.

As well, I must mention how captivating that gigantic front window is. We all basically gazed at it like it was a movie screen. It’s even set up sort of like a little theatre :)

Also, when we rode through the tunnelled part of the Canada Line, everybody was able to use their BlackBerrys and cell phones for voice calls and data! We did know the tunnel allowed for cell phone access, but it’s quite another thing to see it actually working in reality. I even tweeted from the tunnel!

The end of the Canada Line at Waterfront Station.

The end of the Canada Line at Waterfront Station.

And here’s the end of the Canada Line in Waterfront Station. Back to where we started :)

And whoo—that’s it for this post! Have a great weekend everybody!


54 Comments

  • By cree, July 10, 2009 @ 7:48 pm

    Very detailed and just makes the official opening more anticipating. A little funny you paid for a line that aint open yet.

    A little minor thing I wished they’d include. In addition to the destination signs at each station, they should indicate the next station in and outbound (example [southbound] – Waterfront (VANCOUVER CITY CENTRE) Yaletown/Roundouse ->) or reverse arrows. that same applies to the expo and millennium lines.

    Otherwise, it looks very good. it’s gettin exciting!

  • By Alexwarrior, July 10, 2009 @ 8:14 pm

    Excellent, it’s looking awesome!

  • By ;-), July 10, 2009 @ 9:28 pm

    Love the video under the tunnel, especially under False Creek. Was the cellphone/blackberry tests done with Telus or Bell phones?

  • By cheese, July 10, 2009 @ 9:39 pm

    cool! excellent work! just wondering is there any way a normal civilian like me to have a tour of Canada line before it’s offical opening?

    by the way, i saw new black mark2 skytrain broken down this afternoon, i guess that train didn’t pass “2000 kilometres problem free” test.

  • By CJ Stebbing, July 10, 2009 @ 10:11 pm

    I agree with “cheese” on the canada line sneak peak ride.

    Maybe a contest open to the faithful buzzer bloggers can enter to join in on the next ride along….lol

    or if jhen gets an extra pass, I call dibbs…..lol;P

  • By ;-), July 10, 2009 @ 10:19 pm

    Why is water acceptable in the Canada Line tunnel (under False Creek), but for the Dunsmuir tunnel?

    Wouldn’t they have the same safety concerns?

  • By daniel, July 10, 2009 @ 11:22 pm

    koolio! now i just can’t wait for it to open, and i think i see someone behind the buzzer in the relfection of the train window! ^_^

  • By David, July 11, 2009 @ 12:01 am

    Who decided to charge extra for the airport? Is the extra money going to the Airport Authority or to TransLink? YVR paid for the entire Sea Island branch so I’m thinking they’re the ones who asked for a separate fare. Nothing like discouraging people from using public transit. *sigh*

  • By John, July 11, 2009 @ 6:07 am

    When I saw the video on youtube I though i was going to be upset with my self;thinking I just ended up missing another open house, but sombody mentioned that thi isn’t the offical open house. If this is true when is the open house for this one?

  • By Tsushima Masaki, July 11, 2009 @ 1:30 pm

    Thanks for the videos and pictures Jhen, I can’t wait for my first chance to ride the line.

    There is one more open house scheduled for the Canada Line but I have no idea where it will be. I usually check the canadaline.ca once a week to see if they have new open house info.

    @Jhen, Did Laureen Regan also also do the 98 B-Line stop announcements or were those announcements made with voice software?

  • By Jimbo J., July 11, 2009 @ 11:22 pm

    It seems a bit short-sighted to have the line go down to single-track at the end of the Richmond line, cheaper and less impact sure, but harder to expand in the future.

    And the extra fare to go to the airport, who allowed that? The logic must have been, “well if you can afford to go on a plane then you can afford a few extra bucks for a special ‘airport’ train ticket.”

  • By p51dray, July 12, 2009 @ 1:03 am

    Wow awesome post! Thanks for the sneak peak Jhenifer!

  • By Ian S., July 13, 2009 @ 2:41 am

    The next and final Canada Line open house will be on Saturday, July 25, at Vancouver City Centre station.

  • By David M, July 13, 2009 @ 8:52 am

    Thanks Jhenifer – great videos and explanation.

    Sorry to say that the ticket purchased in Richmond was inlaid for the airport branch – no add-fare shown on there.

    I really hope Translink rethinks that short-sighted decision – the implementation and concept is so against trying to get people onto the trains. I don’t get it.

  • By Jhenifer Pabillano, July 13, 2009 @ 9:29 am

    ;-): I don’t think water is really acceptable in any tunnel, but it often does seep into every tunnel somehow, and every agency has to manage it. I know there are pumps at the bottom of the Canada Line tunnel under False Creek to manage a lot of that seepage. And the Dunsmuir tunnel is just at the point where it needs some more aggressive preventative maintenance.

    David, Jimbo, David M:
    Yep—there is an addfare for the Sea Island section of the Canada Line coming. As far as I know, it’s basically to cover a shortfall identified in 2004, at the beginning of the project. I’m quite sorry it’s coming as a surprise to everyone. We really didn’t try to keep it a secret: for example, it’s in the FAQ on the Canada Line page. I do know there were info boards showing the fee at the Canada Line in-person consultations too. I’ll likely be doing a post about the addfare later this week too—the Board is scheduled to make a decision about it on Thursday, I believe.

  • By Jhenifer Pabillano, July 13, 2009 @ 10:32 am

    Tsushima:
    Nope, Laureen didn’t do the 98 B-Line stops — I’m told it was a very nice lady from Florida who does voiceover for a living.

  • By Jhenifer Pabillano, July 13, 2009 @ 10:35 am

    Also, yes, I am trying to put together a Canada Line preview tour… but we will see how that pans out. I’ve only just been able to get on a tour — it was tricky to arrange.

    ;-): I forgot to answer this part of your comment earlier — I think we were all on different services and it seemed to be working okay. My phone was on the Rogers network, so I can definitely vouch for that one.

    And yes, Ian S is correct, the next open house is Vancouver City Centre on July 25.

  • By Ivan, July 13, 2009 @ 11:22 am

    I see water in the bored tunnel – that is not a safety issue correct?

  • By Jhenifer Pabillano, July 13, 2009 @ 11:26 am

    No, it isn’t.

  • By ;-), July 13, 2009 @ 11:51 am

    Wow a summer preview for us readers! This would be a great follow-up, especially since the End Cafe where we met last is no more (it now has a new name).

  • By David, July 13, 2009 @ 11:58 am

    I’m not surprised by the Airport fare because I’ve been following the project right from the beginning. I expressed my disappointment at a Canada Line planning open house years ago. Even now I feel that nobody has provided a satisfactory answer other than “we need more money so we’re going to soak air travelers”. As I noted, YVR paid for the entire Sea Island branch line so that’s the last place TransLink should be looking for extra funding.

    It’s definitely going to be confusing because Sea Island is in Zone 2 if you’re riding the bus, but exists in its own little world once you board a train. So much for our integrated fare system.

    Richmond council wanted the entire Richmond section single tracked with passing lanes at stations. What a joke that would’ve been, especially after it was decided to make the stations so small that they can’t handle longer trains.

  • By ;-), July 13, 2009 @ 1:01 pm

    Airport subway surcharges are not uncommon. I remember recently paying a premuim riding from San Francisco and in Hong Kong.

  • By CJ Stebbing, July 13, 2009 @ 1:42 pm

    Anychance I can get a lil ride on the train….lol…

    Maybe when you get to go down again jhen…lol

  • By Jhenifer Pabillano, July 13, 2009 @ 2:12 pm

    Update about the ticket design — that IS the actual ticket design for the Canada Line. Here’s why:

    The new ticket vending machines on Canada Line required a new design as the text it prints is larger. We tried to keep it as consistent as the Expo/Millennium lines as we possibly could but the technology and set up is different.

  • By kobe, July 13, 2009 @ 3:26 pm

    Do you have any idea on when the line will open, or when an announcement will be made about the line’s opening day?

    I have heard rumors that it will be the BC Day weekend!

  • By Jhenifer Pabillano, July 13, 2009 @ 3:27 pm

    I haven’t heard any confirmed dates yet — sorry!

  • By Dan, July 14, 2009 @ 2:26 am

    This extra “zone/add fare” will be even more confusing to the frustrated fare structure. Will it be a “zone 4 or 5″ cause right now Im lost and trying to piece this out. I can see more fare evaders cause of this and a more frustrating time for bus drivers trying to tell a passenger coming from maple ridge that it will cost almost $15 cash fare to get to the airport. Cause you never can make it downtown from Haney Place in 90min. And the fare boxes on the buses are not programed to make day passes (in fact they can) but i don’t understand why CMBC or TransLink doesn’t do that. Otherwise the train looks nice.

  • By rob, July 14, 2009 @ 7:41 am

    Jhennifer, will any of the stations have LED signs informing passengers how long til the next train arrives??
    For that matter, do existing Skytrain stations have this feature?

  • By Jhenifer Pabillano, July 14, 2009 @ 9:17 am

    Rob: If you check out the very first video in the post, you can see the LED signs showing the times of the next few trains (eg. YVR-Airport 8 min, etc). Existing SkyTrain stations don’t currently have this feature in their LED signs, as far as I know.

  • By David, July 14, 2009 @ 11:39 am

    I think the added fare to the airport is $2.50
    I spoke with someone that works there and a one zone from the Airport is 5 bucks.
    Ouch.

  • By Jhenifer Pabillano, July 14, 2009 @ 11:41 am

    David: I can’t confirm that yet — the board has to approve the fare, and I’m not 100% on how it is structured. As far as I know, it’s free within the Sea Island stations. But we will see… more later this week…

  • By ;-), July 14, 2009 @ 1:34 pm

    $5 is a bargain for airport service to downtown! Hong Kong’s Airport Express is $15 (HKG$100) for a 24 minute one-way trip. It was CDN$20 when the Canadian Loonie was in nose-dive territory a few years ago.

  • By David, July 14, 2009 @ 4:52 pm

    People here are making misleading comparisons to airport express services in other cities. You need to look at cities where the normal metro system serves the airport. The overpriced Heathrow Express should not be compared to Canada Line, the normal Piccadilly Line tube train should be. In that case normal zone 6 fares apply. Likewise there is no surcharge on MARTA in Atlanta, but there is on BART in San Francisco.

    $5 will be the fare for trips between YVR and Richmond. Vancouver is in a different zone so the fare will be $6.25 to get downtown.

  • By rob, July 14, 2009 @ 8:01 pm

    True, people ARE making bad comparisons, Here’s what you should be comparing to: MARTA (Atlanta, Chicago OHare and Midway, and Philly.

  • By Donald, July 15, 2009 @ 9:55 am

    I’ve changed my stance since hearing that YVR was NOT getting the fare premium.

    If the airport service was a limited stop train with amenities like on the West Coast Express, for sure a fare premium would be justified. The Canada Line is just a subway.

    In Tokyo, I had two options to get from Narita to Shinjuku… an arm and a leg for a premium express train that would get me there in just over half an hour, or normal fares for a regular local service train that would get me there in just over an hour.

    If there is a premium on the Canada Line, the 424 bus should be retained as a regular fare alternative.

  • By ;-), July 15, 2009 @ 10:41 am

    Perhaps only 1 out of 4 trains should go to YVR with 80% demand is coming from and going to Lulu’s to balance the cost.

  • By rob, July 16, 2009 @ 9:46 am

    DONALD is precisely correct. LONDON also does it this way, a premium fare for an express train (think its called Heathrow Express) and regular fare for cheaper subway.

  • By Jack, July 16, 2009 @ 11:25 pm

    LOL, ghost trains aren’t even 100% on time… Boo!

    I don’t get why Translink ended the tracks at Richmond w/o any way for future expansion further south… say White Rock? Who knows what the next 40 years will bring? It’s like building the Lions gate for 2 lanes back in the day. Or our narrow width Skytrain cars… just makes me wonder are we just building for the present day?

  • By ;-), July 17, 2009 @ 12:20 am

    I was at many of the planning meetings. The early designs had two stations South of Westminster. But due to budgets and priorities, the two stations were combined at the current Saba location and twinning the tracks Westminster North.

    Beyond City Hall, it was unclear which direction the train should go. Steveston vs the tunnel. Again with the limited budget (it was one of the early P3′s), focusing on the current segment being built within budget was more important.

    Except for one councillor (Ron Howard?), the mayor and other councillors wanted an “at grade” line. This was to minimize shadows from the overhead guideways. However when it was discovered that there would only be 3 or 4 opportunities for traffic to cross No 3, the councilors reluctantly agreed to an above grade solution.

    I agree with the single track issues for capacity, but also maintenance in a few decades when tracks need to be replaced due to wear and tear (I still remember the long track transitions when the Expo line was retracked).

  • By ;-), July 17, 2009 @ 8:07 am

    For those that did not hear, CTV is reporting a mid-August launch with free rides the first day.

    Click on my name for details.

  • By Mark, July 17, 2009 @ 10:48 am

    My question is HOW will the airport zone fare be enforced or even how will Sea Island Zone fares be enforced?

    It’s a barrier free system. There’s no gates.

    A lot of people will simply pay existing 1-3 Zones to go to YVR.

    The New ticket machines also have no provisions for a “Zone 4″

    On board the bus there’s no signage for airport fares either and how will bus drivers dispense an airport fare for someone coming from a remote location in Pitt Meadows or Maple Ridge? Ask for a Zone 4? Lol….

  • By Jhenifer Pabillano, July 17, 2009 @ 10:55 am

    Hold that thought — info is still coming about how the fare will be structured & implemented….

  • By Lou, July 17, 2009 @ 12:10 pm

    Its time to restructure the whole zone system.
    Translink is running out of money.
    And I think this is the PERFECT opportunity to restructure transit to increase revenue.

    -Start charging by distance.
    Most cities charge rapid transit by distance. Translink can charge 1.50 for one to two stations, 2.50 for three to five, 3.50 for five to eight, 4.50 for >8
    I know alot of people that drive if they only have to go one or stations away (not worth 2.50), so if you have this cheaper alternative, you will increase ridership for these small commutes.
    And for regular commuters, say from Joyce to Downtown, you can now charge them a bit more to use the system to increase revenue.

    How to enforce??
    Honor System – Skytrain Police to Check tickets.
    Smart Cards / Turnstiles – Enter Exit charge.
    You can follow Hong Kong’s approach.
    Say the smart cards cost 5 bucks to make, charge a 10 dollar deposit. If people lose them, well too bad! Translink keeps the 10 bucks.
    You can also call it a 5 dollar loan from every rider.

  • By ;-), July 17, 2009 @ 12:12 pm

    They could always route the YVR traffic through US customs as Zone 4. Not sure what the USA penalties are for fare evasion.

  • By Mark, July 25, 2009 @ 6:08 pm

    So I just got back from the tour of Vancouver City Center station and I got some nuggets of information which might be good to share with you as they are now public knowledge.

    1) First and foremost, the brochures indicate an August commencement of service. The line is slated to open according to numerous sources on site and assuming all goes well, on Monday Aug. 24.

    The reason for this is both Lansdowne and Aberdeen stations have not fully completed paving their sidewalks thus are a safety hazard. It is the hope that the line will be open on Monday Aug. 24

    2) The first day will indeed be free, but of course being a Monday, most people will have farecards and transfers anyway, plus a bus ride to the station would cost a fare so it really is not relevant here.

    3) The airport fare structure has been placed on hold till 2010. Not sure when in 2010, but there will be no fare structure to YVR this year.

    4) The bus routes are slated to take effect Sept. 7, two weeks after the opening of the line. TransLink personel on site said that the B-Line and the suburban buses will run ALONG with the C-Line for two weeks to allow for a “smooth transition”

    5) Finally the new tickets seen on this blog with the print on the back, those are TransLink’s “second generation” ticket machines hence they are different.

    I hope all this clears everything up :)

  • By celia, August 12, 2009 @ 4:41 pm

    wow~ i can’t wait to take the Canada line on aug 17th! :)

  • By Ben, August 18, 2009 @ 9:54 am

    who is the voice of Canada Line. Is it the same lady on sky train?

  • By Jhenifer Pabillano, August 18, 2009 @ 11:47 am

    Ben: Yes, it’s Laureen Regan, the voice of the SkyTrain.

  • By Dan, August 19, 2009 @ 4:45 pm

    I agree! with Donald above on the YVR addfare.

    “If there is a premium on the Canada Line, the 424 bus should be retained as a regular fare alternative.”

    First, as it is, the Canada line is a regular daily use transit line, not an “Airport Express” with limited stops and special services like a downtown baggage check-in. I agree a transit line that is designed solely for the airport and tailored to airport users should be charged a extra charge. However, that is not the Canada Line.

    Secondly, and MOST IMPORTANT of all, users are left with NO any other alternative but to pay the extra addfare if they need to travel to the airport. There are no other transit services to the airport.

    Since the bus that charge the regular fare is cancelled and we must take the Canada line for an extra charge, I think we can call this a “FARE INCREASE”.

  • By James, August 28, 2009 @ 10:25 pm

    Hey. I know you answered this question a couple of times, but I just want to confirm some things. You said the water in the underground sections of the tunnel are nothing to worry about? But i find it troubling because the tunnels are new and should be water proofed, as well as having pumps installed. Aside from the fact that electricity and water doesn’t mix, water leakage becomes a huge and very expensive problem as time goes on. How on Earth (no pun intended) would translink fix the issue? More to the point, how much would we be on the hook for? Any plans as to what will be done about the expo line tunnel leakage?

    On another note, are there skytrain yellow jacket positions open for the canada line? What’s your fav way for someone to apply?

  • By Jhenifer Pabillano, September 1, 2009 @ 12:09 pm

    James: as far as I’m told, the water issue isn’t a problem and is being managed using the pumps etc. I’m certain they knew about the electricity/water issue when they were building it!

    You can check out employment opps for Canada Line attendants at the ProTrans BC website. For career opps along the Expo/Millennium Line, see the SkyTrain website

  • By ronnie, September 4, 2009 @ 10:18 am

    The current rolling text showing next station and terminus station are very functional, but from an ergonomic point of view, I hope the text can change altogether without rolling, as reading rolling text on the train cause eye strain.

  • By Jhenifer Pabillano, September 4, 2009 @ 10:30 am

    Ronnie: send that observation over to our Customer Relations department! It will be logged in our formal feedback system and sent over to the appropriate staff at Canada Line.

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