I’ve spent a lot of time looking at the downtown Vancouver stations lately, so I thought I’d take a visit to King Edward and the Richmond Stations in the afternoon today.
I tried to head out at a time where there would be crowds or lineups to photograph, but oddly enough, I didn’t really have any luck. Rainier weather this week has helped calm the crowd numbers down, and everything seemed to be flowing smoothly on transit. (And it’s not that I or TransLink wants a lineup or crowd, mind you — it’s just that they can make for more exciting photos! Oh well.)
Anyway, as you can see in the photo of Bridgeport Station above, the only lineups I could find at Bridgeport Station were at the ticket machines. There weren’t any lineups for the train and the bus loop at the bottom wasn’t crazy busy.
And when I spoke to Shinder and Ron, two of the transit hosts at Bridgeport Station, Ron said, “Oh, you should have been here in the morning. 1100 people came out of the 620 from the ferry! I’ve never seen so many people here.” So I guess my timing was just off.
Also, in case you’re wondering, Ron and Shinder seemed to be doing quite fine. Popular questions they were asked by people getting off at Bridgeport Station in the morning were “Where do you get the bus to the ferry?” (it’s the 620, right nearby) and “Where do you catch the 351?” All easily solved.
King Edward Station
I hopped back up to visit King Edward Station, and it was steadily busy but not crowded as well. The final curling matches of the Olympics were starting soon, and people were heading through the station to get to the very last curling event.
Customers had lots of the regular questions about how to get to the event and where to grab a bite to eat nearby, but truth be told, the crowds needed a lot less help than last week. The hosts surmised that people all knew where the curling centre was and how to catch the shuttle to reach there. I suppose during two weeks of curling, everyone has been learning!
And at King Edward there were still some interesting things to see. We ran into Arthur, a retired CMBC employee, who was wearing an Expo 86 rain poncho!
I also went by Aberdeen Station to see the very last transit host shift of the Games — the last speedskating event of the Olympics finished that afternoon (with a gold medal!).
Given that the event had just finished up, we were all expecting crowds at the station and a big lineup for the train. But again, it didn’t happen! Everyone seemed to exit the venue in small, manageable groups, emerging at steady intervals rather than in one enormous burst. So while the photo above looks busy, they really just got right on the trains and didn’t have to line up.
Everyone was surprised. Apparently for every single day before this, the speedskating crowds have always emerged in one huge horde, needing to be shepherded into lineups before getting on trains. We all suspected that people might be taking their time watching the medal ceremonies and enjoying the very last speedskating event. And again, perhaps the crowd was more educated about transit, and were waiting instead of rushing right out to catch the train with everyone else.
Lloyd, the transit host coordinator on hand, said I should try photographing the crowds from a low angle to make it look like it was very busy. So there you go :)
Also, we had to take part of the security tape down, because it didn’t make sense to usher people through an elaborate queue management maze when there weren’t very many people crowding on all at once. As you can see, Mike Shiffer, transit host and VP of planning, got caught up in the tape a bit.
However, at this point, one of our Transit Police told me there were crowds at Richmond-Brighouse! So I hotfooted it over there to see what was going on.
And indeed, there were crowds at Richmond-Brighouse!
As far as we could tell, there wasn’t a hard reason for the crowds though. It seemed people were just leaving the O-Zone all at once, plus speedskating had let out, and others just wanted to start heading downtown. (Curling was just beginning around this time.)
The lineup went around the side of the station and down the sidewalk, running alongside the station wall.
The lineup seemed to be moving relatively quickly though, with a train arriving to load up passengers every seven minutes.
And the transit hosts at Richmond-Brighouse were doing well. Popular questions here were “Where’s the O-Zone” and “How do I get to downtown Vancouver?” You also had to make sure that people wanted the O-Zone rather than the Oval, and knew they were at Brighouse instead of Bridgeport Station, as well. (Also, it’s so funny how the customer questions change as you move around the system. The main questions at Waterfront are “Where’s the Olympic flame?” and “Where’s the bathroom?”)
Rochelle, one of the hosts, said that she had really learned a lot from the whole transit host experience as well. She’s got a newfound respect for those who work on the front lines, and she’s learned a whole lot about the Richmond transit system!
OK, that’s it for this visit — and we’ve just got one more day to go! As you may have guessed, I’ll be taking a look at downtown Vancouver during the afternoon and evening tomorrow: I expect it will be busy :)