Friday, September 11, 2009

Disorient express

The Canada Line, the latest addition to Vancouver's SkyTrain rapid transit system, has been up and running for a couple of weeks now*. It connects downtown to the airport, and my favourite bus route to a station one block from my work. Given that I usually only take transit in atrocious weather, I'll be very happy to transfer to the SkyTrain part way to work and avoid the extra five blocks walk from the bus stop down a treacherous icy hill.

This week has been an exception to the weather rule; I rode my bike in the torrential rain on Tuesday and Wednesday, but took the bus and SkyTrain yesterday and today, in blazing sunshine (I'm saving my legs for a planned assault on the Grouse Grind tomorrow). The crowds of confused people around the ticket machines and TransLink employees seemed to suggest that a lot of people are using the Canada Line (and the SkyTrain in general) for the first time this week - and an encounter this morning confirmed my suspicion.

I got off the bus and descended into the station, and was halfway down the stairs just as a train arrived at the closest platform. Three or four of us, including a woman with a small suitcase, made a run for it and bolted through the doors just as they closed.

As the train moved off, the woman turned to me and said, "which way is this train going?"

"Erm, downtown", I replied.

"Oh... I'm heading to the airport. It's my first time on this thing. Guess I'll be getting off and turning around at the next station..."

I hope she didn't get on the very first plane she saw at the airport.

*On budget and three months ahead of schedule. Now that the schools are back in session it's busy, but not overcrowded. An unqualified success. BITE ME, NIMBYS.


  1. I'm saving my legs for a planned assault on the Grouse Grind tomorrow
    Oh, that's convenient. I've just been practicing my knee surgery.

  2. From what I've heard about the Grind, I'm more likely to need an ankle splint. Or maybe an IV drip.

    A beer at the top, at the very least.

  3. On budget AND ahead of schedule?! I have never heard of both in the same public project :)

  4. ... actually I haven't heard of either one in most large scale projects.. :D

  5. I guess the Olympics are a good motivation!

  6. I hope she didn't get on the very first plane she saw at the airport.

    ROFL!!!!! That made my day!

  7. Its been crazy busy since the line opened. If only they would realize the need for rapid transit and get a couple lines out to the Universities! how are the legs?

  8. It is running already??? Oh my I thought it would never come to that! But that is GREAT! I can use it in October! (I'll ask my uncle to NOT pick us up from the airport, haha that will infuriate my mother ...)
    Let us know about the grind. I've never done it, but still want to try.

  9. I didn't think you had torrential rains up there, having never seen them in the NorthWest US?!?

  10. We usually don't, but last week was just crazy. Mr E Man has spent some time in Asia, and said it felt just like the monsoons and tropical downpours in Thailand and Indonesia! I've never seen anything quite like it in Vancouver, which usually specialises in misty drizzles.

  11. SM, here's hoping the TransLink budget cuts don't stall those efforts for too long - SkyTrain to the universities would be awesome.

    My legs were OK yesterday, but a bit sore today. It was my cardio that let me down - I was huffing and puffing all the way up, and stopped more and more often as I got higher up! My 35 minute workouts hadn't prepared me as well as I'd hoped...

    Nina, don't do it (see above). Miserable. ;)

    Hey, I will be in town in October - so send me your dates!

  12. One of my favorites in Portland, was a lady who needed to go to the airport. She was on a blue line, because at that particular spot, it is the only train running and you have to take it to get to the transfer station to get on a red line to the airport. Two of us were trying to make her understand this to no avail. She finally decided in desperation to hit the driver intercom (while the train was moving - a big no, no) to tell the driver he needed to stop so she could get off the train to catch a redline. Apparently what she needed, was to hear it from the driver - he politely explained that she needed to get off in two stops to transfer and rather less politely explained that the com is for emergencies only when the train is moving.

    Another fun one was a guy who was quite obviously stoned and possibly on acid, who was trying to get to Beaverton (on the other side of downtown). He asked where the train was headed (a blueline, which goes further in either direction than the redline) and panicked when I explained it was heading downtown. After determining where he was actually going, I assured him that the train was also headed for Beaverton. He then got really upset and accused me of lying to him, when we got to Gateway, where we catch up with the redline (or going the other direction, where the redline splits off towards the airport) and the speaker explained that this was a blueline to Hillsboro and that you could transfer to the redline heading to the airport or on another platform, to Beaverton (which is where the redline ends going the direction we were heading). So he jumps off the train and then proceeds to go to the platform that heads to the airport. I tried to explain that this platform would take him to the airport, not Beaverton, but given my perceived previous bad advice, he refused to listen.

    Suffice to say, I have had a great deal of fun with public trans in Portland...And a lot of interesting stories because of it - such as the guy who busted out a bong on a bus...

  13. Heh. The first person - why would you bother asking people if you won't listen to the answer?

    And the second - sending him as far away from you as you could sounds like a good plan!


I promise to respond to all respectful non-spam comments! Don't be shy! Oh, and please don't type my surname in your comments; I know you all know what it is, but I'd prefer Google to rank other pages before this blog.

Note: only a member of this blog may post a comment.