Mike Shiffer, our vice-president of planning, was spending the whole last half of the day visiting with transit hosts, and I thought it was a grand excuse to join him on a visit to the south half of the Canada Line stations this afternoon.
By the way, when I met up with him at Broadway-City Hall, I found Mike helping out a customer with answer to his questions, which is what you can see above :)
And you know, they did put up a sign to help passengers figure out where to catch the 99 to UBC! (You might recall that there was a problem with visitors coming out of the station and hopping right on the 99 eastbound, which picks up in front.)
I think it is helping. The hosts said they were getting fewer questions about where to get the right bus.
King Edward Station
As you may know, King Edward Station is the closest train station to the Olympic curling venue — it’s about a 15-minute walk eastward. Curling started today, and the hosts were quite excited because their queue management strategy had worked out very well earlier in the day. (King Edward has a small area of available space around it, so when lots of people head out of the station after their event, it’s a challenge to manage them in a useful lineup without having them spill out onto the street. I’ll be doing a more in-depth article about queue management on Thursday!)
We arrived between curling events, so it wasn’t particularly busy at the station. There were, however, three scalpers there hawking curling tickets (one of them was doing particularly well). Again, it’s a small space around the station, so everyone seemed to be working quite hard not to be in everyone else’s way.
Oh — another thing that helped immensely with queue management was the Salvation Army group handing out free hot chocolate. This fellow was particularly enthusiastic at providing hot chocolate from the dispenser strapped to his back (he called it a jet pack). Apparently they have 40 cups worth of hot chocolate in the dispenser, many more refills kept in storage nearby, and thousands of cups on hand!
We’ll skip to Bridgeport Station now because we don’t really have any transit hosts at the stations in between King Edward and Bridgeport.
The train ride over was getting full, but not so much that we couldn’t get on. I must say that for the most part, if you’re not riding near a venue that has just finished its event, it’s really not too bad to ride transit to get to your destinations—especially if you’re in a small group and travelling light.
And a faux-celebrity sighting here: on the train, I was standing right near a girl who looked like Lindsay Lohan, but was definitely not her :)
While Bridgeport is a busy transit hub with a park & ride of 1,200 spaces nearby, it was not particularly busy at ground-level at 3 in the afternoon. (Really, nothing much along the Richmond stations compares with the busy-ness of downtown Vancouver during the Games.)
Arlene and Henry helped out this customer, who was planning to take a group on the trains this weekend, and wanted to learn about the journey first. Way to go, conscientious rider!
Mike also helped out a few customers. He really enjoys it :)
I also saw these two Dutch bikes from Holland Heineken House parked in the Bridgeport Station bike rack! Looks like somebody is certainly getting around town :)
We went to Aberdeen Station next to see how they were doing. It wasn’t busy, and most folks who came by wanted to know how to get to the Richmond Oval. No one seemed overly put out by the prospect of a 20 minute walk westward to the Oval. Although the transit hosts did say that some people have been annoyed that the shuttle bus to the Oval for the disabled does NOT leave from Aberdeen — it leaves from Bridgeport or Richmond-Brighouse! I’m not sure why that is.
The pedestrian traffic here seemed entirely guided by events at the Oval — the transit hosts’ shifts were just long enough to cover the speedskating event in the afternoon, and then the station was no longer staffed by transit hosts.
And finally, here’s Richmond-Brighouse Station, the busiest of the southern Canada Line stations!
Everyone getting off basically wanted directions to the Richmond O-Zone  or Holland Heineken House ! (Holland Heineken House is inside the Richmond O-Zone, and it’s about a 10 minute walk from the station.)
Paul, one of the transit hosts there, told me that the huge crowds at Richmond-Brighouse were usually at 11 p.m., once the Richmond O-Zone closed its doors and people flooded the station to get home.
Also, the inbound crowds emerged at regularly scheduled intervals, as trains arrived every 7 minutes at the station. So that went a ways to making things manageable for the hosts too.
Finally, one more shot of the new signage at stations, telling people that their event ticket counts as a transit pass!
Oh, and at very last, the northbound train was rather packed as we headed back to Vancouver. To be expected — it was nearing 4:30 p.m. or so, so people were beginning to head home from work, or heading to Olympic stuff after work :)