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Translink Buzzer Blog

Phase 1 of the Main Street-Science World Station upgrades

A rendering of the upgraded Main Street-Science World Station

It’s the oldest SkyTrain station and is in need of an upgrade. Originally built in 1982, Main Street-Science World Station was a demonstration station of the future Expo Line during Expo ’86. Now, the over 30-year-old station has become one of our busiest.

Why we need to upgrade the station

There are a few reasons why the station needs to be upgraded. In short, we need to prepare for the growing number of people who use the Expo Line (more than 200 000 currently use the line each weekday), improve accessibility and get the station ready for faregates. There’s a dedicated page for the Main Street-Science World Station upgrade you’ll want to read for specifics about the upgrade and the reasons for it.

What upgrades mean for riders

Phase 1 of the upgrades starts now (winter) and runs until fall 2013. During this time you’ll see some construction that will reroute some pedestrian walkways and temporarily the East side of station (park side) will be temporarily closed close the park and ride. SkyTrain will run on normal schedule during this phase. Again, check  the Main Street-Science World Station upgrade page for specifics.

During the roughly four month Phase 2 period between fall 2013 and winter 2014, work will be done on the station platforms one at a time. As each station platform will be a construction zone during this time, only two-car shuttle trains will be stopping at Main Street to ensure passenger safety. For all other trains, Main Street-Science World Station will become a “skip stop” – i.e. trains will move through the station without stopping. For example, if you get on a four-car or six-car train at Metrotown heading toward downtown Vancouver, that train WILL NOT stop at Main Street Station.

So, if you want to get off at Main Street Station, you will need to transfer to the special two-car shuttle train at Commercial-Broadway Station. The two-car train will stop at Main Street and every stop between Commercial-Broadway and Waterfront. Passengers traveling to/from Main Street-Science World Station should plan for up to 10 minutes of extra travel time.

This upgrade is part of the Expo Line Upgrade Strategy, which provides some great detail about the Expo Line, “the backbone of Metro Vancouver’s rapid transit network”. We’ll be updating the blog with any new info about this upgrade over the next two years. As usual, we’ll try our best to answer any of your questions about it!

An old rendering of the original Main Street-Science World Station






  • By Tim Choi, January 9, 2013 @ 4:33 pm

    Due to the skipping of MS-SW, will regular trains actually have a slightly faster trip? Or is this offset by the need to accommodate the shuttle train?

  • By Jarek Piórkowski, January 9, 2013 @ 7:01 pm

    Any chance of getting extra service on #3 and #8 or running some service to Commercial station (#8) and City Hall or Olympic Village (#3) to compensate for less frequent rapid transit service to and from Main Street station?

  • By ;-), January 9, 2013 @ 8:07 pm

    When the Main Street station is completed. I would love to see the Waterfront to Commercial/Broadway short-turning extra trains remain, but as 6 cars (or more). This segment is one of the busiest and would benefit with a short-turning train to ease congestion.

  • By Deano, January 9, 2013 @ 9:03 pm

    There’s a park-and-ride at Main Street ?

  • By Sheba, January 9, 2013 @ 10:26 pm

    LOL I thought that too Deano. Then I looked at the old rendering of the station and thought ‘OMG was there ever daytime empty space on the street?” and my brain temporarily exploded ;)

  • By Rapid, January 10, 2013 @ 4:09 am

    Are they going to take this opportunity to install a public restroom in the huge east station house? Much more useful than retail space!! plus there’s the city-owned one right there that would need to be moved anyways.

    They were talking about restrooms at skytrain stations a few years ago, now’s the perfect time and place to start!

  • By Cliff, January 10, 2013 @ 4:40 am

    I’d like to see the temporary train configuration used as a potential study into the feasibility of running limited express trains in the future.

  • By Robert Willis - Buzzer Editor, January 10, 2013 @ 8:46 am

    Deano and Sheba: That was a typo, and it’s fixed. Sorry about that!

  • By Mitch, January 10, 2013 @ 9:51 am

    This is too disruptive in my opinion. I think Translink and its customers might be better served by outright closing the Main Street/Science World station, and operating a bus shuttle from the Chinatown/Stadium station, which is a short hop away (a shuttle from Commercial is a bit unwieldy). This way construction can be completed a lot sooner, and there wouldn’t be so much train juggling for Translink and commuters.

    It’s too bad you can’t just erect a temp platform nearby as well.

  • By Robert Willis - Buzzer Editor, January 10, 2013 @ 11:31 am

    Tim: Your second assumption is right. Because there will still be SkyTrain in-front and behind other trains, there should be no major different to the frequency for when the trains arrive, just a different in their destinations come Phase 2.

    Jarek: We’re still seven or eight months away from Phase 2 and working on altering services to help people get to where they are going. Your suggestions are pretty good. I’ll forward them to our planners!

    ;-) As you may know, we already do run some dead-head trips during peak hours downtown. As for short turning trains, I believe that’s something our planning department might look at after Main Street is finished.

    Rapid: There are no plans on installing public rest rooms at the station. As far as I know, the City of Vancouver washroom will remain. I wrote a post about washrooms on our system and others last year –

    Mitch: Our main focus during the construction process is safety followed by keeping our service as close to normal as possible in order to provide transit to those who use our system and hopefully those who currently don’t, but may in the future.

  • By Eugene Wong, January 10, 2013 @ 3:11 pm

    I agree with Mitch. Shutter the station until you are done. Keep it simple.

    If not that, then at least run the train from Stadium Station. Stadium has an extra platform. That just makes things much easier.

    As it is, Translink keeps saying that trains are the highest frequency. Therefore inserting a short turned train would ruin that frequency.

  • By Eugene Wong, January 10, 2013 @ 3:21 pm

    It would be nice to see what options we have, and the costs associated with them. If the most inconvenient way were the cheapest way, then it would be worth discussing.

  • By Phil, January 10, 2013 @ 4:09 pm

    I saw there is going to be a down escalator on the West Side of the station but not the East side.

    I really think they should add a down escalator on the east side because people will be coming and going to Pacific Central station with luggage to catch a train or bus. It would be nice to make it as convenient as possible for our residents and visitors to arrive and depart the city.

  • By Sheba, January 10, 2013 @ 5:05 pm

    Closing one entrance so they can work on it while people use the other entrance is very much like the faregate work that we’ve already lived through – and they didn’t shut down stations for that.

    Sure work on the platform will be trickier with the station still open, but I’m willing to wait to hear more details about it before passing judgement about what is best. Do you really think totally shutting down a busy station for months is the best plan for the city?

  • By SS, January 10, 2013 @ 5:06 pm


    I think currently SkyTrain is running at maximum frequency based on the number of trains available, not by the capacity of the system. Currently there are 2 short-turn trains during morning peak, running about every 12 minutes apart and gives a combined headway of ~93 seconds in the segment west of Broadway. During the Olympics, they used 4 short-turn trains with combined headway of ~80 seconds. They can probably use the Olympics configuration to run the shuttle trains about every 6 minutes apart without disrupting regular trains…

  • By Sheba, January 10, 2013 @ 10:17 pm


    Nanaimo, Royal Oak, 22nd Street and Columbia stations need up escalators. I’m not sure if any of the stations outside of Vancouver have down escalators.

  • By Sheba, January 10, 2013 @ 11:28 pm

    Check out these stations

  • By Raymond, July 6, 2013 @ 11:09 pm

    In September, since the main street station is being upgraded still, how would i go from stadium station back to main street station?

  • By Raymond, January 25, 2014 @ 1:42 pm

    No one has answered my question

Other Links to this Post

  1. The Buzzer blog » Temporary closure of the east side of Main Street-Science World Station — February 26, 2013 @ 2:18 pm

  2. The Buzzer blog » Learn about station upgrades for Metrotown Station today and tomorrow – June 4 and 5, 2013 — June 4, 2013 @ 10:42 am

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