Well, as mentioned, I went down to see what the crowds looked like on transit for the opening ceremonies, and to see how things were going for our staff!
About 100,000 people were anticipated in downtown Vancouver to attend the opening ceremonies or watch it from celebration sites—an incredibly busy day for the Olympic period.
To manage the rush, our extended Olympic transit services began their service lift on Friday. That includes longer hours and more rush-hour service on the Expo and Millennium Line, event-level service on the Canada Line, 10-minute SeaBus service, more West Coast Express trains, and the equivalent of 180 extra buses on hand to augment bus service.
Transit hosts were also out on the system for the first time, helping out locals and tourists with transit questions (and other inquiries).
And protests were going on in the downtown core, but did not wind up affecting transit service much.
In general though, while transit was busy, crowds flowed smoothly from transit to their venues. Before the events, the crowds arrived in staggered shifts — and after the end of events, when everyone wanted to leave at once, there were some lineups but riders seemed quite patient. Thanks, guys!
I managed to get to many train stations and talk to staff – a few colleagues captured the other stations plus bus service, and I’ll hopefully get those photos soon.
Yaletown-Roundhouse Station saw a lot of passengers, owing to its location a few blocks away from the free LiveCity Yaletown celebration site.
Transit hosts Raymond and Sze-Wan seemed in good spirits during their shift. They had the big celebrity sighting of the day – Raymond helped out Elvis Stojko with fare information and transit directions! (He was headed to Vancouver City Centre apparently – hurrah for Elvis taking transit!)
LiveCity Yaletown was showing the opening ceremonies on their outdoor screens, and at about 4:30 p.m. the lineup to enter was about 1.5 hours long, winding around and around the block.
The LiveCity Yaletown site reached capacity at about 7:30 p.m. and the lines were shut down! So arrive early if you want to catch something there!
Immediately after the opening ceremonies, riders were directed to Vancouver City Centre Station and Yaletown-Roundhouse, meaning there were some crowds and lineups there. However, I arrived a bit after that, so I managed only to capture the remaining stragglers who were heading in! It did not seem that busy by that point.
I rode into Stadium-Chinatown Station expecting to find huge swarms of people wandering about — but really, people were moving through quite quickly to get to B.C. Place, and the trains kept coming through at short intervals to scoop people up and deposit more people on the platform.
Lisa, a SkyTrain attendant at Stadium, had been handing out the Buzzer to customers to give them a look at some free events – we put a list of events in the community events section, thanks to CityCaucus.com!
Oddly enough, while Lisa and I were chatting, a pin trader interrupted us and asked if Lisa wanted to trade pins (she was wearing some on her jacket). She did, and it took barely 15 seconds to transact the trade, then she was off. This seemed totally random but I think it’s happening all over the city as the Olympic pin traders are out in full effect. The pin trader did not want my transit buttons by the way :(
Crowds were going quite easily through the station. Here’s a look at them above — that’s about as busy as it got at any one time. (Which is good – crowded, crazy platforms are not what we want!)
Outside the station, transit hosts were basically helping guide people toward B.C. Place. Almost everyone wanted those directions by about 3:30 p.m. – earlier in the day, there were more questions about free events in the area, and general transit directions.
One of our transit hosts said that they had never learned so much about scalping as they did at Stadium in the morning. There were two or three scalpers standing around asking for people to sell their tickets, or offering tickets for sale.
And here’s Jason helping out customers in front of Global TV’s camera :) The cameraman just swooped in after the customers approached him!
I should also mention the second celebrity sighting of the day was here: I saw Cory Monteith from Glee heading by toward B.C. Place! Definitely confirmed too: here’s his Tweet about the ceremonies  :)
I didn’t manage to swing by Stadium for the post-ceremonies rush – but a colleague should have those photos to me soon!
Granville Station had much the same story. Steady crowds before the opening ceremonies – big rush afterward!
Bal and Sofia said things were going well, and they were answering questions from lots of locals and residents. Fun fact: all hosts reported that the most frequent questions they were asked were about where the torch was, and where the free events were!
I swung by Granville again at about 10 p.m. and talked to Natalie and Elicia, the transit hosts on the late night shift. Natalie said that while questions earlier in the evening were about general transit information and Olympic events, the late night questions tended to be things like, “Do you know where the Roxy is?” (It’s a nightclub downtown, and it’s just up the street!)
Vancouver City Centre
Nearby, the Granville pedestrian corridor was very busy at around 10 p.m. Vancouver City Centre Station was in the middle of all of it.
At this point of the night, it didn’t seem super busy in the station – but lineups were seen later on at night when more people left.
And here’s the third celebrity sighting of the night: Geoff, one of the transit hosts at the station, said that Gretzky sped by with the torch on the way to the lighting the cauldron near the Convention Centre!
At Waterfront Station, a great many people were going through, but again, the flow seemed to be going quite well. The big question from customers here was, “Where are the washrooms?” (If you’re curious, a sign with a list of public washrooms is up in the middle of the station.)
Jeff, another of our Waterfront transit hosts, said that a lot of locals seemed to be trying out their Games travel plans, asking questions about the new times of trains and such. Well done, riders!
By the way, the beer tent for German House next door to Waterfront Station had quite a lineup. Make sure you’re ready for long waits during the Games!
Finally, Burrard Station had transit hosts outside helping people with directions and such. There was a good volume of tourists at this spot, probably owing to the proximity to the Hotel Vancouver!
Bruce and Ants, two transit hosts at Burrard, said they were getting lots of questions asking for directions to Korea House. It’s at the 2nd floor of the Hyatt Regency Hotel in downtown Vancouver, if you’re wondering.
Bruce and Ants are CMBC trainers in their day jobs, and they were talking to drivers as they came in and out at the stop. One newer driver was a bit nervous turning corners around with so many pedestrians around for the torch relay, and they were offering some encouragement. How nice!
OK, that’s all I have from the first day – I’ll have more stories as the Games progresses!