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Photos: all-door boarding at New Westminster Station in the late 1980s

A photo of a SkyTrain stopped on Platform 2 with the temporary structure on top of Platform 1.

The upgraded Commercial–Broadway Station is now open and with that, all-door boarding has arrived at the station [1]!

But, eagle-eyed readers pointed out that technically this is not the first time [2]. SkyTrain temporarily had all-door boarding at New Westminster Station in the late 1980s.

We briefly covered it way back in 2011, sharing this photo from Allan M. [3] showing the temporary structure. So, what’s up with that?

Like the third platform at Stadium–Chinatown Station [4], it had something to do with Expo 86, a World’s Fair [5] hosted by Vancouver in 1986.

Over its nearly six-month run, more than 22 million people attended Expo 86 and not surprisingly — with the fair’s theme, “Transportation and Communication: World in Motion – World in Touch” — many were eager to experience SkyTrain, one of the expo’s signature attractions.

That’s why a temporary structure was built on top of Platform 1 to help move the large influx of people boarding the SkyTrain at New Westminster Station to head down to Expo 86 and other special events in downtown Vancouver throughout the year.

So, for about three years, there was all-door boarding at New Westminster Station, while we worked to extend the SkyTrain into Surrey. First to Columbia Station, then over the SkyBridge into Scott Road Station. By 1994, SkyTrain added Gateway, Surrey Central and King George stations.

The train approaching New Westminster Station inbound. You can spot the passengers waiting for the train on the temporary structure.

Not only did it make boarding the SkyTrain easier at New Westminster Station, it also sped up the process of sending a train back to downtown Vancouver.

Trains were able to load and unload passengers on both platforms rather than unloading at Platform 2, traveling past the station to switch tracks and then back into the station at Platform 1 to pickup passengers.

An aerial shot of New Westminster Station from the late 1980s.

There you have it! When the new platform, Platform 5, opened at Commercial–Broadway Station, it marked the arrival of permanent all-door boarding for the first time ever.

Update: An earlier version said the temporary structure over the platform was removed in the early 1990s, but it was actually removed in time for Columbia Station’s opening in February 1989.