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SkyTrain flashback photos: 24 years of fond memories

Metrotown SkyTrain Station circa 1986.

Metrotown SkyTrain Station circa 1986.

Over on Twitter, SkyTrain’s communications liaison Jennifer Siddon has been posting some historical SkyTrain photos for people to enjoy. I thought I’d cross-post them on the blog so you could see them too!

(Jennifer also reminded me that SkyTrain celebrated its 24th year of operations on January 3, so let’s send our rapid transit system the happiest of birthday wishes!)

More photos after the jump…

Passengers line-up outside Main Street SkyTrain Station during Expo 86.

Passengers line-up outside Main Street SkyTrain Station during Expo 86.

 What a difference a few decades can make. Main Street-Science World SkyTrain Stn, 1986.

What a difference a few decades can make. Main Street-Science World SkyTrain Stn, 1986.

 What a difference a few decades can make: Stadium SkyTrain Stn as SkyTrain moves some of the 22 million visitors to Expo'86..

What a difference a few decades can make: Stadium SkyTrain Stn as SkyTrain moves some of the 22 million visitors to Expo'86.

If you have more historic SkyTrain/transit photos to share, please do email them to me and I’ll put them on the blog!

Plus, feel free to follow Jennifer’s Twitter account for more photos and SkyTrain help. (Here’s the full list of TransLink staff Twitter accounts — for the latest on our system status, make sure to follow the main TransLink account.


  • By Stefan, January 8, 2010 @ 10:11 am

    Thanks for the photos!

    It’s amazing to consider how much some neighbourhoods have been transformed by the SkyTrain: Metrotown is a case in point.

    In the last photo of Stadium Station, that train on the third track was a special free shuttle that operated non-stop between Stadium and Waterfront Stations, connecting the main site of Expo 86 to the Canadian pavilion at Canada Place. The Expo monorail had a station under the viaduct, opening directly onto the side platform where all the people are standing in the photo.

  • By Jhenifer Pabillano, January 8, 2010 @ 10:14 am

    I was going to do a post about that third track actually — so glad you pointed out that it’s visible in the photo there. Instant illustration!

  • By Jay, January 8, 2010 @ 11:21 am

    Wow, great photos.
    The Metrotown shot is crazy, with those little houses where station square and the hotel now sits. I’m always surprised but how little the south side of Metrotown station has changed compared to the north side.
    Amazing to see those lineups for Expo 86. I was only 5 years old then but remember how exciting the Skytrain was.

  • By Jhenifer Pabillano, January 8, 2010 @ 11:22 am

    I was told Sears and a bowling alley were the only thing around Metrotown in those days — and you needed to take a shuttle bus from the SkyTrain to get to the Sears!

  • By Patrick M., January 8, 2010 @ 11:48 am

    So neat!

    Love the photos, especially Metrotown!

  • By Derek Cheung, January 8, 2010 @ 1:02 pm

    Does anybody have a photo of the second Metrotown Station bus loop? This photo shows the first bus loop in the same location as the current bus loop (i.e. third bus loop).

    The second bus loop was a couple of hundred metres east while they built Station Square and Eaton Centre (now Metropolis).

  • By Stefan, January 8, 2010 @ 1:59 pm

    Derek: I remember that temporary loop, but I haven’t seen a photo of it. I think it had the same basic configuration as the original loop.

    Jhenifer: Yes. The Sears that’s still there was the nucleus of the entire mall complex; then Save On Foods was built in the mid 80s, around the time SkyTrain opened. The bowling lane you’re referring to was probably in Old Orchard Mall, which is still there at Kingsway and Willingdon.

    Some of the older office and medical buildings along Kingsway had already been built in the 60s and 70s, but where the big malls are now was a bunch of warehouses, before they were torn down (hence the big vacant lots in the photo).

  • By Reva, January 8, 2010 @ 2:44 pm

    Look at all the old Flyer D700a’s parked in the Metrotown loop! They were retired not long after this photo was taken. The D901a’s in the photo also went out of service years ago, although I believe TRAMS has a nice one in their heritage fleet.

    Cool photos! :)

  • By Henry, January 8, 2010 @ 6:17 pm

    All this mention of Sears at Metrotown. I remember going to “Simpson Sears” as many had referred to it. I think most of the original Sears structure is still there. I think you can see some evidence of two different structures built at different times at the entrance to Sears. The second floor is distinctly higher in the mall portion than in the Sears portion. Can anyone confirm that?

    And thanks to Jhen and Jennifer for digging up these pics.

  • By Paul, January 9, 2010 @ 1:20 am

    I remember as a kid going shopping with my parents at Simpson Sears. What is now the mall between sears/toy-r-us and zellers/tnt market. Before the mall opened it was just a ware house for Sears. So that buiding was there long before the mall came along. Also there used to be a super value or value village in the far north east corner. My dad used to go there with a buddy of his when it was snowing and do peel outs in his car. The lot was humongous with no lamp posts or curbs in in the way.

  • By ;-), January 9, 2010 @ 1:29 am

    Yes Sears has changed little from (pre-Skytrain). I just remember this gigantic parking lot around the store like Walmart is famous for today. Yes Henry, it was two stories in the early 80’s and probably earlier than that. In essence the Metrotown mall became the “bridge” between the Skytrain station and Sears.

    Perhaps one thing I would love to see Jhenifer dig up is a Burnaby bus timetable map from pre-Skytrain. The #19 bus use to end at 41st and Joyce (Bino’s Pancake House/7 Eleven). No trolley wires entered Burnaby. There was suburban express buses that ran along Kingsway. But I wondered what diesel bus routes were available back then. Certainly nothing like what it is today.

  • By Stefan, January 9, 2010 @ 11:41 pm

    Henry: Yes. You have to go up a few steps from the main mall level to get into Sears. And I remember it Simpsons Sears, too.

    Paul: Me, too! Simpsons Sears, and the Woodward’s downtown.

    ;-): Before SkyTrain, the Kingsway corridor was served by a combination of the 54 Stride, 55 Twelfth Street, and 96 Sixth Street buses. The 54 ran between Edmonds Loop and Kingsway at Nelson via Clinton and Rumble, with peak hour trips continuing to Downtown Vancouver. It became the 114 and 115, and survives today as the C5 and C7. The 55 and 96 both terminated at 8th & Columbia in New Westminster, and became the 112 and 106 respectively. In the early 80s, the Downtown terminus for these routes was the future Burrard Station.

    For a couple of years after SkyTrain opened, the 106 and 112 were both cut back to Edmonds Station, and a new route, the 107, ran between Edmonds and Metrotown Stations, until it was merged back into the 106. For at least a few months in 1986, some Sunday and holiday trips on the 106 and 112 still operated Downtown; and quite by accident, the N19 largely follows the route of the old 106 between Vancouver and New Westminster.

    By the way, Surrey-bound buses didn’t operate along Kingsway at all. The 319, 320, and 321 routed via the Patullo Bridge, downtown New Westminster, Canada Way, Highway 1, and Hastings; and the 323, 324, 330 (now the 332) and 334 (which served the Bridgeview area west of the Port Mann Bridge) all routed through Guildford via the Port Mann Bridge, Highway 1, and Hastings.

  • By Stefan, January 9, 2010 @ 11:44 pm

    Henry again:

    Sorry, come to think of it, you have to go *down* (not up) a few steps between Sears and the mall. I was just there a couple of weeks ago.

    It’s amazing to think that from that one humble suburban postwar department store grew one of the largest shopping mall complexes in Canada…and now with the pedestrian overpass over Kingsway, is arguably even larger than it was already!

  • By skytrainboy22, January 10, 2010 @ 2:23 am

    OMG Metrotown was like that in 1986? WOW

  • By zack, January 10, 2010 @ 7:32 pm

    Wow, Metrotown looked like a sleepy town at that time, (that is before it morphed into a gigantic shopping mecca. lol)

  • By ;-), January 10, 2010 @ 8:04 pm

    While many of us may be horrified at the density and the traffic around Metrotown by shoppers. Many municipal planners feel this is the future where people can live, work, shop, and play in their own neighbourhoods. By building dense taller structures, we create more affordable housing, especially for young workers, but minimize urban sprawl. There are similar results along other Skytrain stations.

  • By e-eye, January 11, 2010 @ 11:39 am

    I recall working at Expo 86 at the Iron Horse Grill (next to the Round House) serving drinks to visitors, and not being able to ride the Expo Train because of the crowds. I didn’t actually ride it until after the fair was over in late October 1986. At that time, we thought it was just a transit gimick for Expo.

  • By Stefan, January 11, 2010 @ 11:41 am

    ;-): I’m with you.

  • By Jhenifer Pabillano, January 14, 2010 @ 3:18 pm

    Couldn’t find an old Burnaby timetable btw. Perhaps someone else out there has one?

  • By ^_^, January 15, 2010 @ 6:01 pm

    All those vintage buses D700A’S D901A’s and D800’S at the original Metrotown Station. God,those bring alot of memories, I sure miss those buses

  • By Reva, January 15, 2010 @ 7:19 pm

    ;-) : I managed to dig out an 1985 “Transit Guide” system-wide route map, but it was published just after the original SkyTrain line opened. It shows very little bus integration at the stations, especially Metrotown, with only the 41 and the 130 stopping there at the time (somone — Stefan? — mentioned this in another thread I think). There’s still a lot of amusing stuff to look at even though my map isn’t pre-SkyTrain, so I’m going to try to get some scans of it & forward them to Jhenifer if I can. :)

  • By Stefan, January 15, 2010 @ 9:39 pm

    Jhenifer and ;-): please see my reply upthread, regarding bus service before SkyTrain. I could give even more detailed information—based on poring over old transit maps in various libraries over the years—but then we’d just be getting into transit geek trivia. ;)

  • By Stefan, January 15, 2010 @ 9:50 pm

    Ah, sorry, never mind: ;-) was specifically asking for an old timetable.

    Reva: the map you’re looking at shows a system very similar to the pre-SkyTrain system. There was marginal modification of services on January 3, 1986, when the Expo Line opened for full service (it had run free for a few weekends in December of 1985).

    Basically, very few routes were fundamentally modified, except that some routes that happened to pass by various SkyTrain stations were rerouted to them. (The 41 was a bit of an exception—it had previously gone straight out Kingsway to Nelson Avenue, the terminus of the 49.)

    In March of 1986, most of route integration happened: for example, the 106 and 112 were cut back to Edmonds Station, and most of the Surrey services were truncated at or rerouted to New Westminster Station.

    Over the next year or so, the North Delta and White Rock routes were also integrated (the 312, 314, 316, and 353 continued going to Downtown Vancouver via Highway 99 for a while).

    New Westminster Station (and secondarily, 22nd Street Station) became the main hubs for South of Fraser services until 1990 when the Expo Line was extended to Scott Road Station (Columbia Station had opened in 1989), and 1994, when it was further extended to King George Station.

    Bus service was introduced to Langley circa 1989 (so that the 501 and 502 originally went all the way to New Westminster Station), and to Pitt Meadows-Maple Ridge around 1991 (before the West Coast Express, so that the 701 went all the way to Downtown Vancouver during peak periods).

  • By Chris, January 17, 2010 @ 1:43 pm

    Just to clearify, did the number 19 trolley bus route started when the Metrotown skytrain station circa was opened?

  • By ;-), January 17, 2010 @ 3:22 pm

    The 19 Stanley park pre-dates the Skytrain long ago. In the 80’s it would start at Kingsway at Joyce westbound. Prior to the 80’s Stanley Park would start at the Pacific Coliseum on McGill.

  • By Bill Kinkaid, January 17, 2010 @ 8:03 pm

    I’ve seen pictures of an old loop at Joyce and been trying to work out where it was. Is it where the 7-11 is now?

  • By ;-), January 17, 2010 @ 11:03 pm

    Close…. next door…. Bino’s pancake house building was the old Joyce Loop.

  • By ;-), January 17, 2010 @ 11:09 pm

    Ooops…. just found this picture in the archives. Getting senile it was South of 7 Eleven. Where the new building that has Domino’s pizza.

  • By Jhenifer Pabillano, January 18, 2010 @ 9:12 am

    Chris: Just wanted to add that the 19 definitely became a trolley line in 1986–I have an old 1986 Buzzer here trumpeting its arrival. ;-)’s comment seems to indicate that it was definitely a route before that though, just not a trolley line.

  • By ;-), January 19, 2010 @ 10:11 pm

    I found this old streetcar map from the 1940 that shows Kingsway service ending at Joyce. The Kingsway trolley service just mirrored the old streetcar until Skytrain matured.

  • By Jay2, January 27, 2010 @ 12:13 am

    Any photos of the old trains with the blue carpets in them? That is what made it all vintage! I remember going with my aunt and cousin in 1983 to the test track at Main Street, that was just as neat too.
    Man.. hard to believe, at one point the whole thing only went to New West station, trains ran in twos.. not fours, and SkyTrain had Sunday hours.
    As for the Metrotown photo, I actually lived in one of those houses where the library is now, then we moved to Strathcona.

    Man.. those were the days.

  • By Bill Bryan, January 27, 2010 @ 2:06 am

    Watch 24 Online For Free!

  • By Liam8174, May 14, 2010 @ 8:20 pm

    I would like to see a picture inside the old skytrain back in 1986 please! I really want to!

  • By Jhenifer Pabillano, May 19, 2010 @ 2:41 pm

    Liam: check out this post and this post for 1986-era photos of SkyTrain!

  • By Herb Klein, December 11, 2010 @ 5:28 pm

    If I remember correctly, the Dec ’85 and Jan ’84 were brutal w snow and cold. The Skytrain attendants had spray cans and every station when the doors opened they sprayed (de-icing fluid?) the door tracks. But the doors wouldn’t close and the train, of course, coudn’t leave. On several days they ran a bus bridge from New West station to downtown.

Other Links to this Post

  1. Twitter Trackbacks for The Buzzer blog » SkyTrain flashback photos: 24 years of fond memories [] on — January 8, 2010 @ 9:18 am

  2. The Buzzer blog » Friday fun post: when did you start riding transit? — January 8, 2010 @ 6:00 pm

  3. The Buzzer blog » Two more old SkyTrain photos — January 15, 2010 @ 9:00 am

  4. The Buzzer blog » SkyTrain turns 25 years old on December 11, 2010! — December 10, 2010 @ 9:48 am

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