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Friday fun post: what’s your favourite SkyTrain line?

If you like, skip to the end of this post to take the poll on your favourite SkyTrain line

From last week: do you have a favourite bus route?

Last week, I asked this question:do you have a favourite bus route?

With 143 votes in, 80% said yes, 20% said no, and 1 Pac-Man was clearly visible in the pie chart.

And I didn’t realize you would have so much to say on the matter! So many comments named favourites—and here’s Sean from CMBC, with a view as a passenger, and from behind the wheel:

Always liked riding the #250 out to Horseshoe Bay… Used to also enjoy the old #100 when it ran all the way out to PoCo city hall… It was called the Midway Connector way back then…
Of course, always liked my local #601. The A/C equipped buses are really nice on a hot summers day…

Haven’t tried it yet myself, but it’s never been easier to get from south Delta to Haney Place! The C76 takes you to 64th & Scott, then the newer #364 takes you out along 64th to Langley Ctr, and then (most trips) continue as the newer #595 out to Haney Place via the new Golden Ears bridge! Will have to try that one day soon! Oh, and the #160 is always an interesting ride from Coquitlam into Vancouver…

My favorite route to DRIVE doesn’t exist anymore, not in it’s original form anyways. That was the old #42 Chancellor/Spanish Banks route… A community shuttle does parts of it now…
I’d say I enjoy driving the #430 alot, and the #620 too… Something about limited stops appeals to me…

Here’s emily:

for scenery:
22 — love going through chinatown, never to seem to end up walking the neighbourhood, so might as well enjoy the view from the bus!
7 — love going by the old sugar refinery building, and the docks & vancouver port…also powell has some interesting older Vancouver buildings…
160 — so much contrast in all of Lower Mainlands different neighbourhoods: downtown Port Moody; beautiful stretch of Barnet Highway (view of the Inlet, even Indian Arm); bustling Italian North Burnaby; DTES (interesting in its own way); and then downtown!

And surprisingly (or not?) lots of people talked about routes in other places. Here’s Dave 2:

The #15… in London England ;)

And here’s David Arthur:

The sights along no. 24 in London are rather nice, and it’s run with double-deckers that aren’t usually very crowded. And if you prefer the countryside, the 554/555/556 between Windermere and Keswick has some fairly spectacular bits.

As always, check out the rest of the comments for more favourite bus routes.

This week: do you have a favourite SkyTrain line?

Time for another simple poll, this one suggested by Ric.

Feel free to champion your favourite line in the comments :)


  • By Sally, April 23, 2010 @ 6:22 pm

    My fav part of the Canada Line is when it crosses the river after Bridgeport Station. It sounds just like a real English train! Now, if only it had trolly service!!

  • By Phil, April 23, 2010 @ 11:28 pm

    No contest, the spacious platforms and variable architecture on the millennium line can’t be beat!

  • By Paul Hillsdon, April 24, 2010 @ 12:13 am

    Expo is an oldie, but a goodie. Canada Line is my least favourite – the trains are incredibly sterile, and most of the route is underground. Millennium wins this round, with the most beautiful stations, scenic route, and least amount of traffic!

  • By cree, April 24, 2010 @ 12:18 am

    my vote goes to the original: Expo Line. Now, if it can get 3G service in the downtown portions of that line, I’d love it more.

  • By ericmk, April 24, 2010 @ 6:58 pm

    My favourite is the Millennium Line. I think it has interesting scenery, like the beautiful green trees along Lougheed Highway! Plus, I love the station designs, which is better than the old Expo line stations and have more personality than the Canada Line. While the Canada Line stations are modern and clean, they all kinda look the same with the wood and glass aboveground and the similar design underground. The Millennium Line stations are all unique and have cool artwork like the big wheel at Sapperton. Go Millennium Line!:)

  • By Ric, April 24, 2010 @ 7:59 pm

    My vote goes to the original expo line. The line is aboveground the whole except for a small section near scott road station. I think the scenery is good and the section where the line crosses the Fraser River into Surrey is interesting.

    While the Canada Line station stations are modern, they all look the same underground and aboveground. The Canada Line does have nice and wider modern trains, I do find that they get packed too fast way too often. They also can’t be extend to run in 4 car train sets as the stations were only designed to handle 2 car train sets. I think this is a design flaw. The stations should have been designed to allow for 4 car train sets.

    The announcement “This train is for Waterfront/YVR-Airport or Richmond-Brighouse, each time the train takes off is unnecessary and is driving me nuts. When you come to think about it is that even necessary? The station announces where the train is going each time a train arrives and there are destination signs on the front, side and back of the trains displaying the terminus station.

    On the other hand, the expo line platforms were built to allow for 6 car train sets when the line was built even though back in those early days only 2 and 4 car train sets were used. When the line was built they planned ahead by designing platforms that could handle 6 car train sets just in case they needed to lengthen the trains in the future. The trains also don’t get packed as fast as often because there are more train cars for the people to spread out.

    When I get a classic Mark I train, I get super excited as those were the first skytrain cars I ever got to ride and even say to myself, “It’s amazing how long these classics have lasted.” “These classics must have millions of kilometers on them, yet they are still doing an excellent job.” I just hope these classic mark I trains can last forever. GO EXPO LINE GO.

  • By Tim Choi, April 24, 2010 @ 9:06 pm

    I voted for Millenium, since it technically covers both the majority of the original Expo line and the new portion :P

    Anyone notice the little red rubber dinosaur on the railing closest to the concrete façade outside of Columbia next to the switch? It’s been there for a few weeks now and I always get a kick out of seeing it.

  • By Davi d M, April 24, 2010 @ 11:33 pm

    I voted for Expo simply because I like the speed no-nonsense acceleration and deceleration. It’s a well built, well engineered line that will serve Vancouver for many many years to come.

    Canada Line was close, but really, it’s new and for that it’s going to get a lot of votes. But I really think Translink underestimated the ridership potential on this route and we’re going to have crowding issues requiring expensive fixed in 10-15 years time.

  • By Eric, April 26, 2010 @ 12:13 am

    @Ric: I’m not too fond of the timing of the C-Line’s destination-station announcement either, but I think it’s a legal requirement to provide them. My preference would be to have them when the trains are paused at stations, much like the outbound Expo and M-Line announcements.

    And for the record, I voted for the Expo Line: it goes back to my experiences riding it in all those years exploring the region by transit. And crossing SkyBridge still holds a certain “wow” factor even now. Was there (or will there be) any celebration of the 20th anniversary of SkyBridge’s opening in March 1990?

  • By Cliff, April 26, 2010 @ 12:37 am

    The Canada Line has a few minor problems with it.

    It really needs to be branded as two lines like the Expo and Millennium lines. Doing so would keep it consistent with the rest of the system. A “Sea Island line” and a “Richmond line” (Not enough people know what Lulu Island is).

    Also, I have a similar disdain for the destination announcements on the Canada Line.

    Logically speaking the announcement never needs to be played in the inbound direction, except at Bridgeport, which unlike Columbia, has a centre platform.

    In the outbound direction, they DO need to be announced. They could be played at every station up to Bridgeport, but really, they can just be played at Bridgeport and Marine Drive Station, because of the YVR check-in stations and to let the blind know that they may need to change trains at Bridgeport.

  • By Robert, April 26, 2010 @ 12:39 pm

    Nods to Canada Line for attention to service details, and to the Millennium Line for station architecture. Expo Line still gets my vote. On the practical level it’s well tuned for speed (Canada Line still feels tentative quite often). Combined with the short head ways and longer platforms, it’s tops for moving many people quickly. Esthetically, there are great long distance views, especially in central Burnaby and on the Skybridge.

  • By Jhenifer Pabillano, April 26, 2010 @ 2:56 pm

    Eric: Huh, as far as I know nothing is planned for the 20th year of SkyBridge. Good to know though—maybe I can do something impromptu up :)

  • By Andrew S, April 27, 2010 @ 10:55 am

    I like the expo line — it’s pretty old school =D but the Millennium was more useful when I used to live 2 blocks from it, and the trains weren’t as squished at Rupert Station (where I’d get on). BTW since this is a SkyTrain post, I found a video It shows the SkyTrain (MK2) in motion while the doors are open. Anyone know why this might happen? It shouldn’t, right?

    As for the Canada Line, personally, I think the station announcements are a little fast, compared to the Expo & Millennium ones. Like there’ no pause between “The Next Station is…” and the name of the station. And it’s really annoying (for me, at least =P) how the inbound and outbound announcements are made in the station, rather than the train car’s speakers, because the stations are already awfully echoey.

    On the Expo Line, it tells us that the trains either go to King George, VCC-Clark, or Edmonds. But there’s no announcement for the trains going to Waterfront. Maybe a good idea is for Waterfront trains is to have an announcement “Train to: Waterfront” so it kinda matches up with the Canada Line =D But I still voted Expo Line, because it was the first line I ever rode on =)

    (Btw Jhenifer, do you remember I emailed you asking what happened to the chime that comes before “Expo/Millennium Line to…”? =P Don’t feel pressured, I just remembered it too =D)

  • By Jhenifer Pabillano, April 27, 2010 @ 1:08 pm

    Andrew: I’m in fact still waiting for a reply on that chime question! I’ll send along a prompt.

  • By Andrew S, April 27, 2010 @ 3:22 pm

    Thanks! I thought it got lost in your pile of work ;)

  • By zack, April 27, 2010 @ 5:23 pm

    Andrew S: I saw that video and it happened during the gloomy winter of December 08.

    The video also aired on Global BC, and they actually questioned TransLink on this issue. They said first of all that the train went out of service at 22nd station, and concluded it was probably possible that someone was leaning on the door that caused this issue.

    This makes sense because I have seen a lot of people deliberately ignoring the (Do not lean on this door!) sign. Because once you lean on it for periods of time, this could open the door in mid-air!!!


  • By Nick, April 28, 2010 @ 5:57 am

    Millennium Line – the day it opened was the last day I drove to a Lions or Canucks game (and paid ten bucks to park there).

    That being said, Columbia REALLY should have the middle platform open for people transferring. It’s so frustrating to make a mad dash for the other side when I come in from Surrey late at night only to miss the train by centimetres and spend the next 6-8 minutes glaring at that damned center railing and thinking about how I’m going to spend an hour waiting for the C24 because of it.

    On the note of weird doors, I’ve seen one instance where someone’s backpack straps got caught between them and the backpack was held outside. Quite the fun sight, though I’d have hated to be the owner.

  • By ;-), April 28, 2010 @ 6:34 am

    I love centre platforms. One set of escalators can do both sides. Jenn, what is the logistics that chooses centre vs side platforms? Which is cheaper?

  • By Dave 2, April 28, 2010 @ 9:10 am

    Centre platforms require fewer escalators/elevators, but require the tracks to ‘spread out’ as they approach the station to accommodate the platform

    I prefer center, ever since I missed my stop in Paris and had to pay another fare in order to reverse direction.

  • By zack, April 28, 2010 @ 10:01 pm

    Heck! all of the lines are my favourites! :)

    Expo Line – Winner, because I live just blocks from the line, and easy access to Downtown.

    Millennium Line – Winner for best station designs. Once you’re on the line you feel like you are in a futuristic urban wonderland!

    Canada Line – Despite being mostly underground, what I like about this line compare to rest are the train rides are smooth, and there is 3g coverage! Plus, it also gives me nostalgic memories of when I was on the Yonge line in Toronto!

  • By Ric, April 28, 2010 @ 10:17 pm

    Zack, all skytrain lines have 3g coverage. Well at least it works for me when I try to go on line with my iPhone while on the train.

  • By Jhenifer Pabillano, April 29, 2010 @ 9:41 am

    The Expo and Millennium Lines in fact have limited cell phone coverage in the Dunsmuir Tunnel under downtown Vancouver.

  • By zack, April 29, 2010 @ 9:57 am

    I was going to say that myself. :)

  • By Ric, April 29, 2010 @ 11:24 am

    I get cell phone coverage on the expo and millennium lines ever time even im the Dunsmuir tunnel under Downtown Vancouver. However, on the Canada line 90% of the time when I am underground I DO NOT have cell phone coverage.

  • By zack, April 29, 2010 @ 11:52 am

    I have a Samsung 3g phone and I don’t get the same coverage!!

  • By Jhenifer Pabillano, April 29, 2010 @ 11:54 am

    That’s bizarre, Ric: I think most people have the exact opposite experience with their cell phones on the SkyTrain.

  • By Ric, April 29, 2010 @ 12:09 pm

    Jhen, well what I told you on my previous comment is the exact experience I have with my cell phone on the skytrain. Could it depend on what cell phone you have or the service provider you’re with?

  • By ;-), April 29, 2010 @ 12:14 pm

    Perhaps it would help if we share our carriers. Are you Telus, Rogers, Virgin, Bell, or another carrier.

    For me Telus EVDO, HSPA, CDMA, and GSM is excellent throughout the Canada Line. I’m helpless in the Dunsmuir tunnel. I’m surprised Telus accepts this “dark territory”.

  • By zack, April 29, 2010 @ 12:31 pm

    Ric: Man! That’s one powerful iPhone you got there. While the rest of us are struggling in tunnel. :)

  • By ;-), April 29, 2010 @ 2:13 pm

    Perhaps we should bring Verizon in to do a Dunsmuir tunnel segment.

  • By ;-), April 29, 2010 @ 9:14 pm

    The previous link doesn’t work well from the mobile site.

    This one should work better.

  • By David, April 30, 2010 @ 11:45 am

    The “this train is for waterfront” message is annoying and completely unnecessary because all inbound Canada Line trains go to waterfront.

    I’m a strong believer in not overloading people with too much information. Making useless announcements means people will “zone out” and may miss important announcements.

    The long tunnel is depressing too. My old commute via Expo line was more pleasant. I’ve only been on the Millennium line twice and don’t remember it. The stations I’ve driven past look nice though.

    Rogers is the only cell network with coverage in the Dunsmuir tunnel.

  • By Jhenifer Pabillano, April 30, 2010 @ 1:33 pm

    I’ve asked SkyTrain and the chime thing has been resolved and is back on the announcements, apparently. Are you noticing anything different?

  • By Andrew S, April 30, 2010 @ 3:40 pm

    Nope, not yet… =P I need to get onto the SkyTrain to check it out ;) But what was the reason that made that chime disappear? Probably just the reprogramming of the station name for Commercial-Broadway, eh?

  • By Jhenifer Pabillano, April 30, 2010 @ 3:46 pm

    Yes, I’m pretty sure that was it. At that stage lots of things were happening: a number of station announcements got upgraded too (Joyce finally got to be Joyce-Collingwood), plus there were some assorted Olympic announcements going in, and the new SkyTrain cars were being added to the fleet.

  • By Ric, April 30, 2010 @ 6:40 pm

    David, nope, Rogers is NOT the only cell network with coverage in the Dunsmuir tunnel. I am using Telus and I get coverage ever time while in the Dunsmuir tunnel. On the Canada line however, 90% of the time I don’t have coverage while in the tunnel.

  • By ;-), April 30, 2010 @ 8:25 pm

    To clarify, which Telus phone model are you using?

  • By zack, April 30, 2010 @ 9:10 pm

    But Ric, I have a Rogers phone, and everytime I’m in the middle of a conversation, the phone automatically shuts off as soon as the train enters the Dunsmuir tunnel, even the Columbia one. So how on earth does your phone work? Is there some kind of special method you use?

  • By Andrew S, May 1, 2010 @ 6:08 pm

    Magic! ;)

  • By Ric, May 1, 2010 @ 7:59 pm

    ;-), The Telus phone model that I have is an iPhone 3Gs 32G, black.

    Zack, every time when I’m on the Canada line and the train is entering the tunnel, if I am in the middle of a conversation the phone automatically cuts off, but this does not happen to me when the train is entering the Dunsmuir tunnel. I don’t use any special method to make it work. Perhaps this is just the way it is if you have an iPhone?

  • By zack, May 1, 2010 @ 10:19 pm

    WOW!! I don’t have an iPhone, but I have quite the opposite experience that you have. I am still able to talk on the phone while on the Canada Line tunnel, but not on the Dunsmuir Tunnel. It seems like the Canada Line is not a fan of the iPhone.

    I think there is some kind of cellphone discrimination going on here. iPhone gets a pass on the Dunsmuir Tunnel but not the Canada Line. Other phones (including mine) get a pass on the Canada Line.

    I think TransLink should fix this apparently hidden wireless loophole that is going on.

  • By ;-), May 2, 2010 @ 7:58 am

    Looking at the Telus website, the iPhone supports…

    Cellular: GSM/EDGE (850, 900, 1800, 1900 MHz)
    Wireless data: HSDPA (850, 1900, 2100 MHz), EDGE

    My Bold 9700 has a similar

    GSM: 850/900/1800/1900
    HSPA: 800/850/1900/2100

    Canada Line has been solid from end to end. Dunsmuir tunnel has been impotent.

    Note, service can be inconsistent if there is a period of high usage. Examples include concerts or large group meetings. During the Olympics, cell carriers set up temporary sites to take on the additional load.

  • By Jhenifer Pabillano, May 3, 2010 @ 3:45 pm

    I’ve used an iPhone in the Canada Line tunnel and have never had problems. But it switches to EDGE rather than 3G in the Dunsmuir tunnel. I think everyone’s mileage may vary depending on their carrier and their phone.

  • By Jhenifer Pabillano, May 17, 2010 @ 10:47 am

    ;-), Dave 2: here’s the response from SkyTrain about centre platfor,s.

    From an operating and customer service standpoint, centre platforms (track on either side of the platform) are generally preferred. The shared use of the space including elevators (1 instead of 2), escalators, stairs, emergency phones, etc, can be a significant saving in capital cost, especially if there are dual entrances (e.g., Waterfront, Stadium, Scott Road). Our staff can also oversee trains and passengers in both directions from one location. Centre platforms are better if passengers are changing trains (such between Richmond and YVR at Bridgeport station), and on the (infrequent) occasions when we may have to transfer passengers from one train to another due to track maintenance or some service delays. Most of the stations on the Expo Line were designed with centre platforms for these reasons. A transfer between Surrey and the Millennium Line at Columbia station would have been easier with a centre platform, but there were other design constraints that precluded that option (see next paragraph) – not to mention that the branch to Lougheed was deemed unlikely in 1986-87 when the design commitments for Columbia were being made.

    On the other hand, the centre platform expands the “footprint” of the guideway by forcing the tracks to separate for some distance either side of the station. The Expo Line right-of-way around Nanaimo, Edmonds, 22nd Street, New Westminster, Columbia and King George, was constrained variously by existing structures, limited clearances, or constraints on the curves approaching the station. Track structure is somewhat simpler and less costly, which drove some of the decisions on the Millennium Line. Side platforms also allow for level access to adjacent development – only on one side of course. This allowed for the convenient access to the westbound track from ground level at Edmonds (although it means an over-and-down crossing to the eastbound). The side platform design is also allowing the Plaza 88 development to integrate with the westbound platform at New Westminster, which has some benefit for integrated development. Side platforms are also (somewhat) easier to expand if necessary for load growth, although hopefully we have enough space to handle future ridership. The Expo Line centre platform (upper level) at Commercial-Broadway is crowded enough already at peak times, although recent improvements to move the elevator, and replace the wide escalator/stairway sidewalls with glass, have improved the circulation considerably. For anyone familiar with the Toronto subway, the north-south Yonge subway line has side platforms at Bloor station. The relatively narrow platforms (built originally in 1954) were expanded some years ago (at considerable cost) to better handle high volumes. However, the east-west Bloor-Danforth line (opened 1966) has a centre platform at Yonge Street, which is very narrow adjacent to the stairways and escalators, presenting some congestion challenges at peak periods; it probably can’t be improved without adding a new platform on the other side of one of the tracks.

    So like many decisions in public transit, there isn’t a single “best” answer. Either design can work, and the best solution depends on a number of capital and ongoing operating cost and service factors in the particular set of circumstances.

  • By zack, May 19, 2010 @ 11:27 am

    Here’s a fun fact for those who are familiar with Toronto’s subway system.

    The Lower Bay station which was originally opened in 1966, was only open for six months as a test track on the Bloor-Danforth line. Since then, it has been known as the abandoned ghost station, and is currently used for historic tours and filming. The station is also used as a detour for trains to pass through when there is maintenance on the Bloor line, and therefore connecting the trains to the Yonge-University Line before coming back to the Bloor line. During this time, passengers must change southbound trains at Museum station and board the northbound trains on the outbound platform (as used on the Canada Line).

    However, this can be sometimes be very confusing, especially when there is a lack of communication. I remembered once I was on the Bloor line train, but forgot to get off at Museum and ended up on the wrong line. The (other) Bay station currently works above the lower bay station.

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  1. The Buzzer blog » Friday fun post: where do you get your transit information? — April 30, 2010 @ 5:01 pm

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