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How we manage West Coast Express crowds entering Waterfront, Sun Feb 21

1,900 West Coast Express riders file into Waterfront station on the left: SeaBus riders flow into the SeaBus station on the right.

1,900 West Coast Express riders file into Waterfront station on the left: SeaBus riders flow into the SeaBus station on the right.

Waterfront Station has been an interesting challenge for us during the Games. Five transit services unload huge numbers of passengers into the station throughout the day, creating big crowds inside the station that need to be managed. (Those services are Canada Line, Expo and Millennium Lines, SeaBus, and West Coast Express.)

Among the services, West Coast Express (WCE) trains especially create a huge spike in foot traffic in Waterfront. For example, the first WCE train on Saturday was incredibly packed, suddenly sending 3,000 people into Waterfront Station!

So for Sunday, our Olympic transportation team and the transit hosts were putting in a plan to get the WCE arrivals through the station in an orderly fashion. About 1,900 were expected on the first WCE train on Sunday—a smaller load than Saturday—but a plan was still needed so the new arrivals wouldn’t block crowds heading to SeaBus, or flood the entrances to Canada Line or Expo and Millennium Lines.

Here’s a look at what happened on Sunday morning.

Members of the Olympic transportation team and additional transit staff organize their strategy.

Members of the Olympic transportation team and additional transit staff organize their strategy.

I’d never seen so many blue jacketed transit staff in one place yet :) But essentially, the plan they were putting together was to create channels through the station for riders of each specific service, using movable fencing, security tape, and human chains to mark off the borders.

Since it was already so busy, people were already being asked to enter for SkyTrain services at Waterfront’s side entrances. (Read about how we manage SkyTrain lineups at Waterfront Station.) SeaBus riders still had to enter and exit through the station.

Fencing creates a dedicated channel for Expo/Millennium riders to flow through.

Fencing creates a dedicated channel for Expo/Millennium riders to flow through.

Fencing created a clear exit path for those emerging from the Expo and Millennium Line into Waterfront. It also divided the SkyTrain riders from the WCE crowds, who would emerge from doors close by. (You can see the open WCE entrance in the back left of this photo — the “PRESS” above is the end of the WCE sign!)

Tape also marked the exit path for the WCE crowds.

Tape also marked the exit path for the WCE crowds.

Tape also helped show a clear exit path for the WCE crowds, ushering them through the station and out the front doors. This tape divided the WCE crowds from the SeaBus riders entering/exiting on the right hand side.

A human chain also marked the exit path for WCE crowds.

A human chain also marked the exit path for WCE crowds.

In the main part of the station, a human chain of queue management volunteers and available Transit Police officers were used to mark the exit path for the crowds of WCE riders, and encourage them to flow through the station and out the front doors. A line of blue-jacketed transit staff stood opposite, doing the same thing.

And here’s what it looked like when everyone arrived! The crowds are kept contained and don’t impede the adjacent traffic from SkyTrain or SeaBus.

If you can stand another video of watching people walk, here is a shot of the crowds exiting the WCE doors. The tape marks their exit path, and SeaBus riders at right can flow in and out for that service.

By the way, it took around 25 minutes for all the WCE passengers to finally exit the station!

One of our transit staff did double duty while crowds flowed out :)

One of our transit staff did double duty while crowds flowed out :)

And here is a photo of one of our staff holding open both sets of doors for customers to flow through :) I’m told later some tape was found to bind the doors together and hold them open.


6 Comments

  • By Barb, February 23, 2010 @ 8:20 pm

    I am a regular WCE rider and have been quite impressed with all the things done at Waterfront. Such a challenge, esp. with so many people who don’t regularly use transit. The barriers in place really help! Just a few more days, keep up the good work!

  • By Jhenifer Pabillano, February 23, 2010 @ 8:31 pm

    Many thanks Barb! I’ll pass your words on to our staff.

  • By David M, February 23, 2010 @ 9:45 pm

    Jhenifer, Thank you so much for the blogs. It really is interesting to see behind the scenes with you. You must be tired, it seems you’ve been blogging 24/7 since the start of the games.

    Again Kudos to Translink for showing the world how to manage crowds. I think you’ve set a standard that will be hard to beat. Fingers crossed for the last days of the games, mind you.

  • By Jhenifer Pabillano, February 23, 2010 @ 10:37 pm

    Knock wood indeed. Just a few more days to go!

    As for myself, it has indeed been a lot of work, but I will be taking a few days off in March to recover—as I’m sure many others in Vancouver will be doing too :)

  • By ;-), February 24, 2010 @ 12:04 am

    I think Translink is doing a great job with the spontaneous crowds that come and go. I hear Gastown is looking for attention, perhaps we should be sending one of the queues East.

    I’m sure Translink is very proud of all the people they are moving.

Other Links to this Post

  1. The Buzzer blog » The host command centre: supporting our transit hosts out on the street — February 26, 2010 @ 3:42 pm

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