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A gold medal for transit during the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics

February 28, 2020 marks the 10-year anniversary of the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics’ final day of competition and the closing ceremonies. Of course, it’s also the anniversary of the “golden goal” scored by hockey player Sidney Crosby to win Canada the gold medal in men’s hockey.

Here’s an essay by Mohak Sood with The Buzzer blog on what the games meant for transit and transportation in Metro Vancouver. 

It’s winter. It’s February. It’s really not that cold, and it’s definitely not snowing much.  The coldest it got to this month was about -1 degrees Celsius.

It’s basically almost spring. Not ideal, really.

Anyways, you’ve got plans – you’re headed downtown.

You rip out a FareSaver from your booklet and head on down to see the Olympic Cauldron at Jack Poole Plaza, near the Vancouver Convention Centre.

But it’s guarded by a chain link fence, so it’s kind of hard to see.

Still, you hang around long enough to try and get a good look, and eventually you do. You see the glass that looks like ice. You see the cauldron, towering over you, all 30-plus feet of it. And then you see it. The fire. The flame. It’s lit.

And then you realize – it really isn’t that cold, like, at all. At the very least, it doesn’t feel anywhere close to cold enough. After all, it is the Winter Olympics!

You know just by simply thinking about Vancouver back in 2010, it feels like travelling through a time machine. Where does the time go!?

It’s hard to believe that it’s been ten years since the Vancouver 2010 games, because, well, a lot has changed since then.

Did you know there was no Instagram during the 2010 Olympics? It didn’t launch until 2012. And FareSavers? Does anyone even remember those? It’s the Compass Card now.

The words “it’s lit” has taken on a whole new meaning. In 2010, it meant you were talking about turning on a light, lighting a candle or even the Olympic Cauldron. But now? Maybe ask a teenager.

Although times have changed since we hosted the Winter Olympics ten years ago, its impact continues to reverberate, especially when it comes to transit ridership.

During the 17-day long Olympics, there were 26 million boardings on all services. That’s an average of 1.58 million boardings per day, 40 per cent higher than the average weekday back in 2010.

“There was so many articles and information afterwards that the transportation during the 2010 Olympics was one of the best that [the Vancouver Organizing Committee for the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games] has ever seen,” says Ray Hamilton, Coast Mountain Bus Company’s manager of service analysis.

And we made sure we were ready for all the travel – before the games kicked off. TransLink launched a large-scale expansion plan that saw not only the arrival of SkyTrain’s Canada Line, but also 180 new diesel-hybrid buses, 48 new SkyTrain cars and a 400-passenger SeaBus.

During the games, TransLink saw a record high in use of public transit and that helped redefine our regions commuting habits. Regional mass transit saw a whopping 50 per cent increase during and after the Games!

“The numbers of riders, it didn’t drop back down to pre-Olympic levels. I think there were lots of people who realized through the Olympic experience that transit was a pretty viable option for getting around the Lower Mainland,” says Constable Jason White with Transit Police.

TransLink continues to win the gold medal in transit ridership, surpassing more than 437 million boardings in 2018 to set an all-time high for Metro Vancouver.

Ridership continues to climb on the Canada Line, which connects people from Vancouver International Airport to downtown Vancouver. It hit an all-time high in 2018 for annual ridership, including 39.65 million boardings in October 2018 alone, surpassing the one-month ridership record of 39.2 million set back during the Olympics.

Recognizing our ridership growth between 2016-2018 and excellence in a range of areas, the American Public Transportation Association named TransLink the Transit System of the Year for 2019.

But perhaps most importantly, all the new additions to TransLink’s fleet were easier on the environment with reduced fuel consumption and lower emissions.

The Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics was a truly moment in time that brought the city, the province, and the country together.

We saw freestyle skier Alexandre Bilodeau become the first Canadian to win gold at an Olympic games held in Canada. We also saw the Canadian women’s hockey team shut out the Americans for gold and of course, hockey player Sidney Crosby’s “golden goal” in men’s hockey to end the magical tournament.

Everyone felt more connected during that time and because of the Olympics, everyone truly was.

Transit in Metro Vancouver has continue to transform 10 years later, so let’s take a look at selection of what we’ve accomplished since 2010:


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