ALERT! : More info
Translink Buzzer Blog

How we manage the SkyTrain lineups at Waterfront Station

The crowds wandering by Waterfront Station at around 3 p.m. on Wednesday, February 17.

The crowds wandering by Waterfront Station at around 3 p.m. on Wednesday, February 17.

I visited Waterfront Station yesterday to see how our staff is managing the SkyTrain lineups when rush hour starts.

Queue management for transit is in fact a TransLink concern. However, while we are directing how the queue management strategy works, VANOC volunteers and people from local community organizations are helping out our transit hosts with implementation.

For Waterfront Station, the larger crowds begin to arrive at about 3 p.m., and the queue management strategy is put into effect—otherwise crowding inside the station would become overwhelming and make it hard for everyone to get on or off the trains!

Our staff begins to direct customers to side entrances to reach the Canada Line or Expo/Millennium Line, and those leaving the trains exit only through the main doors of Waterfront Station.

Here’s a diagram to show what that looks like.

A diagram of the queue management strategy at Waterfront.

A diagram of the queue management strategy at Waterfront.

So as you can see, no one can enter through the front doors if they’re headed to a SkyTrain service. (West Coast Express and SeaBus customers are allowed in to reach their services, though.)

Canada Line riders are directed to the Waterfront side entrance over at the upper plaza near the Vancouver Sun building, and Expo/Millennium Line riders are directed to the other side entrance at the corner of Howe and Cordova Streets. (Side note: hosts have found that not all people are convinced that the side entrances lead to the same station! But really, they are!)

A transit host holds a Canada Line sign.

A transit host holds a Canada Line sign.

The hosts use these signs to point people out the front door and toward the side exit to reach the Canada Line.

A transit host indicating no access to the Canada Line from the main doors of Waterfront Station.

A transit host indicating no access to the Canada Line from the main doors of Waterfront Station.

And at the same time, hosts tell people not to enter the Canada Line from the main entrance.

No entry signage is posted outside the station's main doors too.

No entry signage is posted outside the station's main doors too.

Plus the transit hosts in front tell people not to enter by the front doors.

Signage outside the front doors points customers toward the side exits.

Signage outside the front doors points customers toward the side exits.

When you walk outside, you are directed by signage towards the west side of the station to reach your services.

Then you turn right and you encounter this cheerful fellow announcing where to go! (He announces the location of the flame every now and then, and once asked everybody to shout Go Canada Go, which they did.)

The side entrance to Waterfront Station where Canada Line riders line up.

The side entrance to Waterfront Station where Canada Line riders line up.

If you’re headed to Canada Line, you go up some steps and line up on the upper plaza near the Vancouver Sun building, entering through this side entrance to Waterfront Station. The plaza has lots of room for the customers to spread out. (Many who rode on the opening day of Canada Line will remember lining up here!)

About half of the lineup stretched across the upper plaza!

About half of the lineup stretched across the upper plaza!

The lineup was long, but definitely moving!

A VANOC volunteer sits in a lifeguard chair as he directs passengers to transit and the Olympic flame.

A VANOC volunteer sits in a lifeguard chair as he directs passengers to transit and the Olympic flame.

If you were headed to the Expo/Millennium Line, you just go to the corner of Howe and Cordova, to the second entrance to the Expo/Millennium Line platform. This transit lifeguard is sitting right in front of the station.

Lifeguard chair inside Waterfront Station.

Lifeguard chair inside Waterfront Station.

A few tidbits. This lifeguard chair was inside Waterfront Station — a VANOC volunteer would be doing queue management announcements while sitting upon it, if required later on. It’s a REAL lifeguard’s chair too — the back had “No running on pool deck” signage!

Crowds headed to the flame and to SkyTrain services.

Crowds headed to the flame and to SkyTrain services.

And here is a shot of the crowds heading for SkyTrain services and the Olympic flame! They probably look scarier than they really are — it is busy but rather manageable when you’re on ground-level.


17 Comments

  • By zack, February 18, 2010 @ 9:19 am

    While I think they’re doing their best with queue management, but what’s with the lifeguard chair? Are we at the beach?

  • By ;-), February 18, 2010 @ 9:33 am

    I took the Canada Line @ Waterfront at 5:45pm and that huge congestion was gone. Who knows what is it like for the remaining days.

    One thing I notice is the East platform was marked for YVR and the West platform was for Richmond-Brighouse…SMART. I also notice frequency was better than 4 min…. EXCELLENT.

    Perhaps what is still missing is marking where the doors are opening. People (especially with luggage) are still running back and forth predicting the doors on an incoming train.

  • By Stefan, February 18, 2010 @ 10:13 am

    ;-):

    It’s very subtle (and probably accidental rather than by design), but the doors at many stations line up with signs on the opposite side of the tracks from the platform. For example, at Waterfront Station, the doors line up with the yellow caution signs, while at Bridgeport, the windows in between each set of doors line up with the station name signs.

  • By jim, February 18, 2010 @ 10:16 am

    Zack,

    It’s called visibility to the crowd and ability to manage a crowd by seeing more than five feet infront of yourself in a crowd. Simple.

  • By David M, February 18, 2010 @ 10:19 am

    Impressive management on the part of Translink. In fact, Translink is looking very good to the world – well done.

    My only issue – the signs outside are only in English and I would prefer to see Canada Line, Expo Line instead of Canada Line and Skytrain.

  • By Mike, February 18, 2010 @ 11:29 am

    I enter the Canada Line Waterfront Station via the entrance at Hastings and Granville, and have yet to encounter a lineup. I’ve seen at most 10 people in there at any one time.

  • By Jhenifer Pabillano, February 18, 2010 @ 3:10 pm

    David M: Agreed about the Canada Line/Expo Line signage. I’m not quite sure why they were differentiated as “SkyTrain” and “Canada Line” exactly.

    ;-), Mike: Glad to hear you didn’t catch any lineups! You might just have good timing too. Queue management really starts being put into place when events at nearby venues let out, just to manage that extra influx of people, and then it goes away when the crowds are smaller. It is also done when crowds just seem to be ballooning for whatever reason (people leaving work, etc).

  • By Dain, February 19, 2010 @ 5:27 pm

    David M: Skytrain and The Canada line are run by different operating subsidiaries (BCRTC and ProTrans BC / SNC Lavalin), not to mention the Canada Line is technically a subway ;).

  • By Jhenifer Pabillano, February 19, 2010 @ 8:24 pm

    Dain:
    Actually, our general marketing policy is to refer to them all as SkyTrain services — the Canada Line is just one of three lines, the other two being the Expo and Millennium Line. Makes it less confusing for the general public, even though you are correct about the technical line operation and such. (And yes, I know that this policy is sometimes inconsistently applied :)

  • By Gregory of BritishStudent.ca, February 20, 2010 @ 4:03 am

    Where the doors stop is a secret for the locals/regulars. In London I know so I can get a seat in the rush after work. A lot of stations I get the right carriage/door to be next to the exit of my destination station/platform (the distances can vary quite a lot on our old over and underground lines).

    Jhenifer, interesting to know that is your marketing policy. It was so strange when I was chatting to an Expo Line neighbour to find out they call it the Sky Train like UBC neighbours call the Canada Line Sky Train.

    I’m going to miss this cute little Transit system when I finally leave Vancouver.

  • By Jhenifer Pabillano, February 20, 2010 @ 9:56 am

    Gregory: choosing the right car/door to get into to make your end trip better is called prewalking! Someone’s even created an efficiency guide for Toronto’s system to help those folks out with prewalking.

  • By Andy (CMBC), February 22, 2010 @ 1:47 pm

    The problem with an efficiency guide here is the different models of SkyTrain plus the different number of car configurations.

  • By Jhenifer Pabillano, February 22, 2010 @ 2:37 pm

    Andy:
    Hmmm… well theoretically, someone could make one — it would just be a lot more complicated! You’d need to know train type, then station layout, and then how the two intersect. Canada Line would be fairly straightforward though, since those cars are standard sizes. But for the Expo/Millennium Line, that’s something like 3 train types x 33 stations — 99 possibilities, if I have my perms and combs right!

  • By Eddie, June 15, 2010 @ 5:22 pm

    I’ll try making a prewalking guide for the SkyTrain this summer. Great excuse to hang out on the SkyTrain all day taking detailed pictures of everything.

  • By Jhenifer Pabillano, June 16, 2010 @ 11:24 am

    Eddie: Let me know what you come up with!

Other Links to this Post

  1. The Buzzer blog » How we manage the lineups at King Edward Station — February 19, 2010 @ 9:01 am

  2. The Buzzer blog » How we manage West Coast Express crowds entering Waterfront, Sun Feb 21 — February 23, 2010 @ 7:48 pm

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI

Leave a comment

Please read our Participation Guidelines before you comment.