SkyTrain (Vancouver)

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SkyTrain
Skytrain.svg
Skytrain composite.png
Overview
Owner TransLink
Locale Greater Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
Transit type Rapid transit
Number of lines 3 operational, 1 under construction
Number of stations 47 (List of stations)
6 under construction
Daily ridership 361,500 (Q1 2014)[1]
Website TransLink
Operation
Began operation December 11, 1985[2]
Operator(s) British Columbia Rapid Transit Company
(Expo and Millennium Line)
Protrans BC (Canada Line)
Character Subway, elevated, and at-grade
Number of vehicles 298
Train length 2, 4 or 6–car trains
Headway 2.7–20 minutes
Technical
System length 68.6 km (42.6 mi)[3]
Track gauge 1,435 mm (4 ft 8 12 in)
(standard gauge)
Electrification Third rail
(650 V DC for Expo and Millennium Lines)
(750 V DC for Canada Line)
(Linear induction or Electric motor)
Average speed 45 km/h (28 mph)
Top speed 90 km/h (56 mph) (Expo and Millennium Lines)[citation needed]
80 km/h (50 mph) (Canada Line)
System map
Vancouver SkyTrain Map.svg

SkyTrain is the rapid transit railroad system of Greater Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.[4] SkyTrain has 68.7 km (42.7 mi) of track[5] and uses fully automated trains on grade-separated tracks, running mostly on elevated guideways, which gives passengers views across the city and helps SkyTrain to hold consistently high on-time reliability.[6] It also uses the world's longest cable-supported transit-only bridge, the Skybridge, to cross the Fraser River.[7]

The system has a total of 47 stations on three lines. The Expo Line and Millennium Line are operated by British Columbia Rapid Transit Company under contract from TransLink (originally BC Transit), a regional government transportation agency. The Canada Line is operated on the same principles by the private concessionaire ProTrans BC under contract to TransLink, and is an integrated part of the regional transport system.

It uses a fare system shared with other local transit services, and is policed by the South Coast British Columbia Transportation Authority Police Service. SkyTrain Attendants (STAs) are present to provide first aid, directions and customer service, inspect fares, monitor train faults, and operate the trains manually if necessary.

Network[edit]

Expo Line[edit]

Main article: Expo Line (TransLink)

The Expo Line connects Waterfront Station in Vancouver to King George Station in Surrey, principally along a route established by the Westminster and Vancouver Tramway Company as an interurban line in 1890.[8] It was built in 1985 in time for Expo 86 and has 20 stations. It was given its name only after the Millennium Line was built. It ran only as far as New Westminster Station until 1989, when it was extended to Columbia Station, and in 1990, once the Skybridge was finished, it continued across the Fraser River to Scott Road. In 1994 the terminus of Expo line became King George Station in Central Surrey. It was built on a budget of $854 million (1986 dollars).[9]

Millennium Line[edit]

Main article: Millennium Line

The Millennium Line shares tracks with the Expo Line from Waterfront Station to Columbia Station in New Westminster, then continues along its own route through North Burnaby and East Vancouver, ending at Vancouver Community College's (VCC–Clark Station) in Vancouver. It was built on a $1.2-billion budget and the final extension from Commercial Drive Station to VCC–Clark Station was opened on January 6, 2006.[10] The Millennium Line has 13 stations that are not shared with the Expo Line. Unlike the Expo Line, the Millennium Line's stations were designed by British Columbia's top architects, resulting in dramatically different stations from those on the Expo Line.[10] In 2004, Busby and Associates Architects, designers of the Brentwood Town Centre Station in Burnaby, were honoured for their work with a Governor General's Medal in Architecture.[11] When the Evergreen Line goes into service in 2016, the Millennium Line will terminate at the Lougheed Town Centre Station, as the Evergreen takes over the rest of the route ending at VCC–Clark Station.

Canada Line[edit]

Main article: Canada Line

The Canada Line begins at the Waterfront Station hub, then continues south to the City of Richmond and Sea Island. From Bridgeport Station, the Canada Line splits into two branches, one heading west to the YVR–Airport Station and the other continuing south to the Richmond–Brighouse Station. Opened on August 17, 2009, the Canada Line added 15 stations and 19.2 km (11.9 mi) to the existing SkyTrain system. Waterfront Station is the only station where the Canada Line directly connects with the Expo Line and Millennium Line; however, Vancouver City Centre Station is within a three-minute walk from Granville Station, making it an unofficial transfer to the Expo Line and Millennium Line. The Canada Line cost $1.9 billion, financed by the Governments of Canada and British Columbia, TransLink, and InTransitBC.[12] The Canada Line's trains, built by Rotem, are fully automated, but are of a different design than the existing lines' Bombardier-built fleet, and use conventional electric motors rather than Bombardier's linear induction technology.[13]

Evergreen Line (2016)[edit]

The Evergreen Line will be a 10.9 km-extension of the SkyTrain network from Lougheed Town Centre Station in Burnaby, running along North Road, alongside the CP Rail tracks into Port Moody, continuing to Coquitlam Central Station, then heading north towards Douglas Station. Project cost is expected to be around $1.4 billion. This line will open in summer 2016, with trains operating between Lafarge Lake–Douglas Station in Coquitlam to Lougheed Town Centre Station in Burnaby, where it will take over Millennium Line's route to VCC–Clark Station near Vancouver Community College.

Line Opening Year Route Length[14] Stations Termini Travel Time Frequency[15] Combined Frequency
Peak Off-Peak Peak Off-Peak
Expo Line 1985 28.9 km 20 Waterfront King George 39 min 2.7 min 6–8 min 1.8 min 3–4 min
Millennium Line 2002 42.1 km 1 29 1 Waterfront VCC–Clark 57 min 5.4 min 6–8 min
Canada Line 2009 14.4 km 2 13 2 Waterfront Richmond–Brighouse 25 min 7 min 7–20 min 3.5 min 3.5–10 min
15.1 km 2 13 2 Waterfront YVR–Airport 25 min 7 min 7–20 min

1 Millennium Line is interlined with Expo Line for 16 stations (22 km) between Waterfront and Columbia.
2 Canada Line service is interlined for 10 stations (11.1 km) between Waterfront and Bridgeport.

Operations[edit]

Frequency[edit]

SkyTrain provides high-frequency service, with automated trains arriving every 2–7 minutes at all stations during peak hours.[15] Trains operate between 5:00 a.m. and 1:30 a.m. on weekdays, with reduced hours on weekends on Expo and Millennium lines.[15] SkyTrain has longer hours of service during special events, such as New Year's Eve, the Vancouver 2010 Olympics, and marathons.

TransLink-FareMap-20091108.svg
Fare class One zone Two zones Three zones Airport AddFare
Adult $2.75 $4.00 $5.50 +$5.00
Concession $1.75 $2.75 $3.75 +$5.00

Fares[edit]

Further information: TransLink fares (Vancouver)
A ticket vending machine (right), next to a Compass Card validator.

TransLink's service area is divided into three zones, with fares varying depending on how many zone boundaries are crossed during one trip (two and three zone passengers are charged the one zone rate after 6:30 PM, and on weekends and statutory holidays). Customers may purchase fares using cash, debit cards, or credit cards from self-serve ticket vending machines at the mezzanine level of each station. A variety of transit passes are available, such as the pre-paid FareSaver ticket, daily DayPass, monthly FareCard, annual EmployerPass, post-secondary student U-Pass, and other specialized passes. Canadian National Institute for the Blind identification cards are accepted without the need to be read by the fare box. One-time fares are valid for 90 minutes on any mode of transportation with any number of transfers, including all SkyTrain lines and bus and SeaBus routes. Concession fares are available for children (ages 6–13), secondary school students with a valid Go-Card and the elderly.[16]

As of May 2013, SkyTrain's fare system is a proof-of-payment system; there are no turnstiles at the entrances to train platforms. Fares are enforced by random ticket inspections – usually by police or transit security but occasionally by SkyTrain attendants – through trains and stations, or at special events such as after BC Lions or Vancouver Canucks games. The fine for failure to show proof of payment, fare evasion, ticket reselling, or other scams is $173.[17][18]

Fare gates[edit]

Compass faregates at Gilmore station

Installing faregates to prevent fare evasion was considered, but originally rejected because the expense of implementing, maintaining, and enforcing them would exceed the losses prevented.[19] As of 2005, TransLink estimated it loses $4 million (5% of revenue attributed to SkyTrain) annually to fare evasion on SkyTrain.[20] The Canada Line opened in 2009 without fare gates, despite previously stated intentions to include them. The Canada Line and Millennium Line stations were designed to allow for future fare gates.[21] Expo Line stations are being redesigned and retrofitted to accommodate the new fare gate system.

The 2008 Provincial Transit Plan outlined several SkyTrain system upgrades, including replacement of the proof-of-payment system with a gated-ticket system.[22] According to then-Minister of Transportation Kevin Falcon, the gated-ticket system would be implemented by a private company by 2010.[23] In April 2009 it was announced that the provincial and federal governments would spend $100 million[24] to put the gates in place by the end of 2010. However, in August 2009 a TransLink spokesman said the gates will not be installed before 2012, and that a smart card system will be implemented at the same time.[25]

Construction of SkyTrain fare gates has been completed as of May 2014. At this time the fare gates are not used and will become active with the launch of the Compass Fare Card in Fall 2013. It was announced August 14, 2013, that current bus transfer system (magnetic strip paper cards) will continue to be used for cash fares, and bus to bus transfers, but will not work at the turnstiles at train stations, which will require a Compass (RFID) card. This means that a bus rider paying cash will be required to buy an additional ticket to transfer to a train.

Fares in the Airport Zone[edit]

Travel on the Canada Line is free between the three Sea Island stations near the airport: Templeton, Sea Island Centre, and YVR–Airport. A normal paid fare is required to enter or leave Sea Island.

Cash fares purchased at ticket machines within the Airport Zone include an AddFare of $5.00 on top of the normal fare. However, the AddFare only applies to cash fares purchased on Sea Island; it does not apply to cash fares purchased outside Sea Island, pre-paid FareSaver tickets, or transit passes.[26] Pre-paid FareSaver tickets can be purchased from retailers within the airport to avoid the surcharge. The AddFare came into effect on January 18, 2010.[27]

Ridership[edit]

A Mark II train travelling along the Expo/Millennium Line between Commercial–Broadway Station and Main Street – Science World Station.

Passengers on the SkyTrain network made an average of 361,500 trips on weekdays during the first quarter of 2014.[1] The SkyTrain network carried a total of 117.4 million passengers in 2010, including 38,447,725 on the Canada Line and 78,965,214 on the interlined Expo and Millennium Lines[28] The Canada Line carried an average of 110,000 passengers per weekday in early 2011, and is three years ahead of ridership forecasts.[29]

The SkyTrain network's highest ridership came during the 2010 Winter Olympics. Each Olympic event ticket included unlimited day-of transit usage. During the 17-day event, Canada Line ridership rose 110 per cent to an average of 228,000 per day, with a single-day record of 287,400 on February 19, 2010. Expo and Millennium Line ridership rose 64 per cent to an average of 394,000 per day, with a single-day record of 567,000 on February 20, 2010. At times, every available train was in service on all three lines.[30] After the Olympics ended, overall transit usage remained 7.8 percent above the previous year.[29]

Funding[edit]

The cost of operating SkyTrain in 2008, with an estimated 73.5 million boardings, was $83 million.[citation needed][31][32] To cover this, TransLink draws mostly from transit fares, advertising ($360 million in 2008) and tax ($262 million from fuel taxes and $298 million from property taxes in 2008), funds which are also shared with bus services, roads and bridge maintenance, and other infrastructure and services.[citation needed][31] The capital costs of building the system are shared with other government agencies. Capital expenses were $216 million[citation needed][31] in 2008. For example, the cost of building the Canada Line was shared between TransLink ($335 million or 22 percent), the federal government (29 percent), the provincial government (28 percent), the airport authority (19 percent), and the City of Vancouver (2 percent).[33] While TransLink has run surpluses for operating costs since 2001,[34][35] it incurs debt to cover these capital costs. As a whole, TransLink has $1.1 billion in long-term debt, as of 2006, of which $508 million was downloaded from the province during the 1999 transfer of responsibility for SkyTrain.[34][36] As the province retained ownership of the causeway, bridge, and certain services, it retained a portion of SkyTrain's debt as well.[37]

Security[edit]

Bus advertisement for the SCBCTAPS police
Canada and Millennium Line stations are designed for future fare gates; Expo Line stations will be retrofitted by 2013.

Law enforcement services are provided by the South Coast British Columbia Transportation Authority Police Service (SCBCTAPS), formerly the Greater Vancouver Transportation Authority Police Service (GVTAPS). They replaced the old TransLink Special Provincial Constables, who had limited authority.

On December 4, 2005, GVTAPS officers became the first and only transit police force in Canada to have full police powers and carry firearms. There was public concern in March 2005 when it was announced that transit police would carry firearms. Then-Solicitor General of British Columbia John Les defended the move, saying that it was necessary to enhance SkyTrain security.[38] Transit officers receive the same training as officers in municipal and RCMP forces. They may arrest people for outstanding warrants, enforce drug laws, enforce the criminal code beyond TransLink property, and deal with offences that begin off TransLink property and make their way onto it. They issue tickets for fare evasion and other infractions on SkyTrain, transit buses, SeaBus, and West Coast Express.[39]

Both transit police officers and Transit Security personnel inspect fares at Skytrain stations as part of TransLink's Fare Audit. Transit Security mostly focus their efforts on the bus system, bus loops, and SeaBus. As of September 2012, Transit Security Officers have the authority to issue tickets for Fare Evasion.

SkyTrain Attendants provide customer service and first aid, troubleshoot train and station operations, and perform fare checks alongside the transit police force.[40] SkyTrain Attendants can be identified by their uniforms which say "SkyTrain" on them.

Over the years, violence and other criminal activities have been concerns, but TransLink insists the system is safe.[41][42][dated info] Then-Inspector Kash Heed of the Vancouver Police Department says that little crime takes place in the stations themselves. However, criminal activity becomes more visible 400–700 metres (1,000–2,000 ft) outside them.[43]

Each station is monitored with an average of 23 closed-circuit television cameras, allowing SkyTrain operators to monitor passenger and station activity.[44] Designated wait areas have enhanced lighting, waiting benches, and emergency telephones. Trains have yellow strips above each window which, when pressed, silently alert operators of a security hazard. On-board speaker phones provide two-way communication between passengers and control operators.[45]

In 2007, it was reported that the entire surveillance system was upgraded from analogue two-hour tape recording to digital technology, which was to allow police to retrieve previous footage for up to seven days.[46] However, incidents since the upgrade have still limited police to a two-hour loop, resulting in loss of potential evidence.[47]

As of November 2008, at least 54 deaths have occurred on the platforms and tracks of the Expo and Millennium Lines. 44 of those deaths were suicides, while the remaining ten were accidental.[48]

History[edit]

A plaque commemorating the inauguration of the SkyTrain.

Planning[edit]

Vancouver had plans as early as the 1950s to build a monorail system, with modernist architect Wells Coates pencilled in to design it; that project was abandoned.[citation needed] The lack of a rapid transit system was said to be the cause of traffic problems in the 1970s, and the municipal government could not fund the construction of such a system.[49] During the same period, Urban Transportation Development Corporation, then an Ontario crown corporation, was developing a new rapid transit technology known as an "Intermediate Capacity Transit System".[50] In 1980 the need for rapid transit was great, and Ontario needed buyers for its new technology. "Advanced Rapid Transit" was selected to be built in Vancouver to showcase the Ontario project at Expo 86.

Expo Line[edit]

Main article: Expo Line (TransLink)

SkyTrain was conceived as a legacy project of Expo 86 and the first line was finished in time to showcase the fair's theme: "Transportation and Communication: World in Motion – World in Touch".[51] Construction was funded by the provincial and federal governments.[52] It was built through the Dunsmuir Tunnel under downtown, which had originally been built for the Canadian Pacific Railway.

Until 1989, SkyTrain terminated at New Westminster Station; in 1987 construction began on an extension including the Skybridge, Columbia Station, and Scott Road Station, extending service to Surrey.[53] The line was expanded yet again in 1994 with the opening of the Gateway, Surrey Central, and King George stations. SkyTrain is part of the 1996 Greater Vancouver Regional District's (GVRD) Livable Region Strategic Plan, which discusses strategies to deal with the anticipated increase of population in the region. These strategies include increasing transportation choices and transit use.[54]

A first-generation Bombardier Mark II train at Rupert Station
A Mark I train passing by in the Grandview Cut between VCC–Clark Station and Commercial–Broadway Station.

Millennium Line[edit]

Main article: Millennium Line

The first section of the Millennium Line opened in 2002, with Braid and Sapperton stations. Most of the remaining portion began operating later that year, serving North Burnaby and East Vancouver. Phase I of the Millennium Line was completed $50 million under budget. Critics of the project dubbed it the "SkyTrain to Nowhere", claiming that the route of the new line was based on political concerns, not the needs of commuters.[55] One illustration of the legitimacy of this complaint is that the end of the Millennium Line is located in a vacant field, originally chosen because it was supposed to be the location for a new high-tech development and is close to the head office of QLT Inc., but additional development has been slow to get off the ground.[56][57] That station, VCC–Clark near Clark Drive and Broadway, did not open until 2006 because of difficulty in negotiating the right-of-way from BNSF, but it is still five kilometres short of the original proposed Phase II terminus at Granville Street and 10th Avenue. At the time the VCC-Clark Station opened, it was revealed that the additional westward extension and its three stations was out of favour and "not a high priority anymore".[58]

Canada Line[edit]

Main article: Canada Line

The Canada Line was built as a public–private partnership, with the winning bidder, led by SNC-Lavalin (now known as ProTransBC), contributing funds toward its construction and operating it for 35 years. A minimum ridership was guaranteed to ProTransBC by TransLink.[59] The Canada Line opened on August 17, 2009, 15 weeks ahead of schedule and on budget.[60] Ridership has risen three years ahead of forecasts, hitting 100,000 passengers per weekday in May 2010 and over 136,000 passengers per weekday in June 2011.[61] The Canada Line is operationally independent from other SkyTrain lines, using different rolling stock (shorter overall train/station length, but wider cars) which is incompatible.[62][63]

Evergreen Line (under construction)[edit]

The Evergreen Line is the second phase of the Millennium Line, now under construction, extending from Lougheed Mall to Coquitlam (then known as the Port Moody-Coquitlam (PMC) Line), providing a "one seat ride" from Coquitlam to VCC–Clark Station. Switches to the PMC Line were installed to the east of Lougheed Town Centre Station and a third platform was roughed-in in anticipation of the extension. Phase II was postponed following a change in provincial government and a re-focus of priorities on the Canada Line due to the hosting of the 2010 Olympics. Preliminary construction of the line began in July 2012 with major construction starting in June 2013 with the construction of columns for support of the line. The project is expected to begin revenue service in the summer (July) of 2016.

The Evergreen Line will add a total of six new stations and eleven additional kilometres to the SkyTrain system making Vancouver's rapid transit system the longest in Canada.[64]

Impact[edit]

SkyTrain has had a significant impact on the development of areas near stations, and has helped to shape urban density in Metro Vancouver. Between 1991 and 2001, the population living within 500 m of SkyTrain increased by 37 per cent, compared to the regional average of 24 per cent.[63] Since SkyTrain opened, the total population of the service area rose from 400,000 to 1.3 million people.[65] According to BC Transit's document SkyTrain: A catalyst for development, more than $5 billion of private money had been invested within a 10–15 minute walking distance of the SkyTrain and SeaBus. The report claimed that the two modes of transportation were the driving force of the investment, though it did not disaggregate the general growth in that area.[66]

Design[edit]

TransLink Major Route Diagram
Lonsdale Quay
UBC Loop
Allison
Sasamat
Waterfront
Alma
Burrard
Macdonald
Granville
Vancouver City Centre
Stadium–Chinatown
Arbutus
Yaletown–Roundhouse
Granville
Main Street–Science World
Willow
Olympic VIllage
Broadway–City Hall
King Edward
Main
Fraser
proposed UBC Line
Clark
VCC–Clark
Oakridge–41st
Commercial–Broadway
Langara–49th
Marine Drive
Nanaimo
29th Avenue
Renfrew
Joyce
Rupert
Bridgeport
Gilmore
Patterson
Brentwood Town Centre
Metrotown
Holdom
Royal Oak
Sperling–Burnaby Lake
Templeton
Lake City Way
Sea Island Centre
Production Way–University
YVR–Airport
Edmonds
22nd Street
Lougheed Town Centre
New Westminster
Braid
Columbia
Sapperton
Aberdeen
Austin
Lansdowne
Cameron
Richmond–Brighouse
Foster
Burquitlam
Smith
Guildford Exchange
Como Lake
148 Street
Glenayre
Scott Road
144 Street
Gateway
Whalley
Surrey Central
Barnet
King George
Queens
proposed Expo extension
Moody Centre/Port Moody
Inlet Centre
Moray
88 Avenue
96 Avenue
Coquitlam Central
Newport
Lincoln
Ungless
Lafarge Lake–Douglas
Falcon
Johnson
Lansdowne
76 Avenue
Port Coquitlam
Newton Exchange
Pitt Meadows
Maple Meadows
Port Haney
Mission City
 Legend 
Expo Line
Millennium Line
Canada Line
Evergreen Line (under construction)
West Coast Express
SeaBus
96/97/99 B-Line buses
Fare Zone 1
Fare Zone 2
Fare Zone 3
The SkyTrain network's schematic diagram.

The Expo and Millennium lines follow a common route between Waterfront Station in Downtown Vancouver and Columbia Station in New Westminster, serving the cities of Vancouver, Burnaby, and New Westminster. From Columbia, Expo Line trains continue through Surrey to King George Station; Millennium Line trains loop back through New Westminster, Burnaby, and Vancouver to VCC–Clark Station. The Canada Line travels southward from Waterfront Station in Downtown Vancouver to Richmond, where the track splits at Bridgeport Station; trains alternate between a southern branch ending at Richmond–Brighouse Station and a western branch ending at Vancouver International Airport. Although most of the system is elevated, SkyTrain runs at or below grade through Downtown Vancouver, for half of the Canada Line's length, and for short stretches in Burnaby and New Westminster.

SkyTrain uses Thales' SelTrac signalling technology to run trains automatically. The program was developed by Alcatel, and loads from a 3.5" diskette. There are two computer systems called the VCC (Vehicle Control Computer), one for each of the Expo (VCC1) and Millennium Lines (VCC2). Each VCC is a cluster of three Intel-IA32 Based Processors with proprietary hardware, configured in a fault tolerant setup. For every command that is sent to the VCC, at least two of the processors must agree with the action, otherwise an error is generated and the command is ignored. The VCCs communicates with the train's VOBC (Vehicle On Board Computer), whose data is transmitted through leaky coax cable laid along the tracks. There are up to two VOBCs per married-pair trains, i.e. 4-car train would have two VOBCs. If the VCCs fail or communication between the VCC and the VOBC is lost, the train will 'time-out' and (EB) emergency-brake. The VCCs have a command-line-console, but normally the trains are controlled through a system known as the SMC, which also provides scheduling. All commands from the SMC are verified to be safe by the VCC before execution. However if the SMC fails, the system can still be operated through the VCC. This is known as 'degraded mode'. The use of this program and technology has never led to accidents.[citation needed] SkyTrain was the longest fully automated rapid-transit system in the world as of 2006.[67] The Expo Line and Millennium Line have a punctuality record of over 96 per cent; passenger interference with train doors is a principal cause of delays.[68] There has been one derailment and no collisions in the system's history.[69]

The SkyTrain network is fully accessible, including vehicles and stations. Mark I train cars have one designated wheelchair position, Mark II and Hyundai Rotem cars have two, and all stations have elevators.

SkyTrain uses the world's longest bridge dedicated to transit services. Skybridge crosses the Fraser River between New Westminster and Surrey. It is a 616 m (2,021 ft) long cable-stayed bridge,[70] with 123 m (404 ft) tall towers. Two additional transit-only bridges, the North Arm Bridge and the Middle Arm Bridge, were built for the Canada Line. The North Arm Bridge is an extradosed bridge with a total length of 562 m (1844 ft), with shorter 47 m (154 ft) towers necessitated by its proximity to the Vancouver International Airport. The North Arm Bridge also has a pedestrian/bicycle deck connecting the bicycle networks of Vancouver and Richmond.[71] The Middle Arm Bridge is a shorter box girder bridge.

TransLink upgraded all Expo Line platform station edges to match those on the Millennium Line shortly after it was completed. The new, wider edges are brighter and are tiled to provide a safer environment for the visually impaired. The Canada Line also uses this safety feature in its stations.[72] Since the opening of the Millennium Line, aside from platform tile upgrading, many Expo line stations have been refitted with new signage and ticket vending machines.

The distinctive tri-tone chime used in the SkyTrain system was recorded in 1984–85 at Little Mountain Sound Studios in Vancouver.[73] The automated train announcements have been voiced by Laureen Regan since the opening of the Millennium Line in 2002, and by Karen Kelm between 1985 and 2001.[74]

Rolling stock[edit]

Expo, Millennium and Evergreen Lines[edit]

Expo, Millennium and the planned Evergreen Line use Bombardier's Advanced Rapid Transit (ART) technology, a system of automated trains driven by linear induction motors, formerly known as Intermediate Capacity Transit System (ICTS). These trains reach speeds of 90 km/h (56 mph);[75][not in citation given] including wait times at stops, the end-to-end average speed is 45 km/h (28 mph), three times faster than a bus and almost twice as fast as a B-Line express bus.[76]

The interior of an older Mark I train.

UTDC ICTS Mark I fleet

The initial fleet consists of 12.7 m (41.7 ft) lightweight Mark I ICTS cars from Urban Transportation Development Corporation, similar to those used by Toronto's Scarborough RT and the Detroit People Mover. Mark I vehicles are composed of mated pairs and normally run as four-car trains, but can be run in two-, four-, or six-car configurations. The maximum based on current station platform lengths is a six-car configuration, totaling 76.2 m (250 ft). The SkyTrain fleet includes 150 (168?) Mark I cars. These trains have a mix of forward-, reverse- and side-facing seats; red, white, and blue interiors; and four doors per car, two per side.[citation needed]

Bombardier ART Mark II fleet

When the Millennium Line was built, TransLink ordered new-generation Mark II ART trains from Bombardier Transportation, some of which were assembled in a Burnaby factory.[77] Similar trains are used in Kuala Lumpur's Kelana Jaya Line, New York's JFK AirTrain, and the new Beijing Airport Express. These trains are usually seen in four-car configurations (except for two-car configurations for turn-back trains running between Waterfront and Commercial-Broadway stations while Main Street-Science World station is being re-constructed). Each pair of cars is semi-permanently joined together in a twin unit or 'married pair', with a length of 33.4 m. Mark II trains have a streamlined front and rear, an articulated joint allowing passengers to walk the length of a married pair, white/grey/blue interior, and six doors per car, three per side. Translink also ordered 48 Mark II ART (2009/2010 model) in 2009 to further supplement supply and integrate new features like CCTV and visual maps with LED lights.[78]

Bombardier ART Mark III fleet (future) The Bombardier ART model has undergone several redesigns from the original UTDC ICTS model, and the Mark II design has been updated by Bombardier, with its newest offering being the Mark III. Dimensions are expected to be similar to the Mark II, with possible capacity improvements offered over the outgoing model through redesigned car layout. TransLink has released conceptual renderings of what future Mark III cars might look like in Vancouver's SkyTrain network. The vehicles appear sleeker, with larger windows on the sides of the train, and redesigned windows and headlights on the ends of the cars. No production models are yet in service in the world, but as of November 2011, Bombardier presents a similarly designed Mark III vehicle (without the TransLink paint scheme) that it offers as its new ART model, also called Innovia ART.[79] In the future, most TransLink orders will likely be for the currently offered Mark III design.

Canada Line[edit]

Canada Line's Hyundai Rotem trains are wider than Bombardier Mark II trains, with spaces assigned for bicycles and luggage.
Real-time information is provided on every station platform on the Canada Line

Hyundai Rotem EMU fleet The Canada Line uses different train propulsion technology than the other SkyTrain lines, with the Hyundai Rotem cars powered by conventional electric motors rather than linear induction motor (LIM) technology, and are therefore incompatible with the other lines. There are a total of 20 trains, which were built by Hyundai Rotem in Korea, operate as two-carriage articulated units, and can reach a speed of 80 kilometres per hour (50 mph).[80] They are maintained at a yard next to Bridgeport Station in Richmond.

Future expansion[edit]

Several possible expansions to the SkyTrain network have been announced. The Evergreen Line, which will run from Lougheed Town Centre to Coquitlam Town Centre and Douglas College, will be opening in middle of 2016. TransLink has previously released a ten-year outlook[81] outlining a potential UBC Line and further expansion of the Expo Line into Surrey.[82] More recently in 2011, two separate rapid transit studies have given further examination and consultation into rapid transit options for expansion for both the UBC/Broadway Corridor as well as Surrey and the South of Fraser region. Expo Line capacity upgrades are also being planned to meet future demand.

Evergreen Line (2016)[edit]

The Evergreen Line was originally scheduled to be completed in 2009, but was delayed to 2016 because of budget concerns.[83][84] The line will connect Lougheed Town Centre Station in Burnaby to Coquitlam City Centre.

Light Rail Transit (LRT) had at one point been selected as the preferred technology for the route. However, further planning review resulted in an announcement on February 1, 2008 that the provincial government's preferred system was Automated Light Rail Transit, or SkyTrain-like technology.[85] The goal of this latest change is to boost projected ridership by adding capacity and speed, and by integrating the system with the Millennium Line to reduce the number of times users need to change systems. The expected cost of the line is $1.4 billion.

Evergreen Line trains will operate between VCC-Clark Station and Douglas College Station, replacing Millennium Line service on the VCC-Clark to Lougheed Town Centre portion of the route. It will connect with the shortened Millennium Line at Lougheed Town Centre Station, and will then run elevated along North and Clarke Roads, through a tunnel under the Clarke Road corridor, through Port Moody, and towards Coquitlam Centre, where it will run at grade alongside the Canadian Pacific rail line. It will then connect with the Coquitlam Central Station, integrating with the bus loop and the West Coast Express. Elevated again, it will turn northward along Pinetree Way and end near Douglas College.[86]

With funding in place as of October 2011, construction is well underway as of summer 2014, with Evergreen Line opening for service in the middle of 2016.[87]

UBC Line/Broadway Corridor extension (~2020)[edit]

Early proposals planned to extend SkyTrain west along the Broadway corridor, but stopped well short of UBC because of the cost, estimated at $700 million in 1999.[88] However, the Provincial Transit Plan, released in February 2008, includes funding for the entire Broadway corridor to UBC. The line would replace the region's busiest bus routes, where over 100,000 trips are made daily. The line would also include an interchange with the Canada Line at Cambie Street. The new line is estimated to cost $2.8 billion and to be completed by 2020.[22]

Government statements suggest that the UBC line will be an extension of the SkyTrain network from VCC–Clark Station via elevated platforms or a tunnel along Broadway ending at the University of British Columbia in the University Endowment Lands, though light rail and higher-capacity bus rapid transit have also been proposed.[89] This would mean that commuters from Coquitlam to UBC would not need to change trains during their commute, as Evergreen Line trains would continue to UBC from Douglas College Station. Commuters from the Evergreen Line east of Commercial-Broadway Station would also have a secondary route to downtown with the option of transferring to the Canada Line instead of the Expo/Millennium Line.

In 2011, with the UBC Line Rapid Transit Study, SkyTrain was evaluated as a possible technology for rapid transit expansion along the Broadway corridor to UBC, along with Light Rail Transit and Bus Rapid Transit.

Expo Line extension (~2020)[edit]

The 2008 Provincial Transit Plan included a 6-km extension of the Expo line from King George Station in Surrey east to Guildford, then along 152 Street to the Fraser Highway and southeast as far as 168 Street.[90]

In 2011, as part of phase 2 of the Surrey Rapid Transit Study, different possibilities have been examined for expanding rapid transit along multiple corridors in the South of Fraser region.[91] SkyTrain is one of several technology options being considered, along with Light Rail Transit and Bus Rapid Transit.

Expo Line capacity expansion[edit]

Ridership on the Expo Line is continually increasing, and plans are being developed for upgrading capacity to meet future ridership levels. Several options are being considered and/or planned, including:

  • Purchasing middle "C" cars to use with some of the Mark II/III trainsets to maximize available platform space. Current platforms can fit six-car Mark I trains and five-car Mark II/III trains. Six-car Mark I trains are increasingly being used, but currently TransLink can only create two- and four-car Mark II trains with its fleet (2 or 2+2). By adding a middle "C" car to some Mark II/III couplets to create three-car trainsets, longer five-car trains can be used (2+3). Whether the middle "C" car implementation will use Mark II or Mark III vehicles is unclear at this time (November 2011).
  • Current operating headway between trains during peak times is maintained at 108 seconds. SkyTrain can run at 75 second headways, which will allow for more trains to operate at peak times[92]
  • After using longer trains and running trains at 75 second headways, the next option is to lengthen the station platforms to accommodate longer trains. This expansion option will be the most expensive as it will require heavy construction at all Expo Line stations

See also[edit]

References[edit]

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External links[edit]