Monday embarked the grand opening of the Canada Line – the rapid rail service linking Metro Vancouver to Richmond and YVR totaling 16 new stations to the SkyTrain network. TransLink invited all to test out the new line mid-afternoon on Monday for free. With free music, food, & fun guaranteed at some stations – how could one refuse?
“TayloredMyPants” and I jumped at the opportunity and started our Canada Line journey at the Broadway-City Hall station. But first – a pit-stop at Freshslice where they were handing out free pizza and orange Crush. The line-up for that took all but five seconds. Good thing too, since we needed our energy to fight the vicious crowds that we’ve been hearing about.
As we headed towards the Broadway station, we were having second thoughts. The line-up was long and grueling. Our friend “Puma” who was passing by the Oakridge-41st station observed that some people were waiting there for 90 minutes! Good grief. Luckily, though, our wait didn’t even take ten minutes.
While waiting, music was blaring in the background and people were handing out Canada Line “passports”. For fun, you could get your passport stamped at all 16 stations. So of course we had to get one; but refused to get off at each stop — we didn’t want to line up in long lines for hours again and again.
Both TayloredMyPants and I were thoroughly impressed with the design of the Broadway station. It seemed something out of a sci-fi spaceship — or maybe we thought so because it was still very spic `n span. Metallic, grey, fresh, with intricate detailing painted along the walls… I felt right at home! There was even two-walled glass viewing areas where you could look down and view the trains coming into the station.
“Wow,” is all I could vocalize.
In the corridor of this station in the corner – and from what I understand most of the 16 stations – sits a FasTrack self-service check-in kiosk. So convenient. Now it won’t be as much of a hassle for checking in at the airport.
We finally made it to the platform. The signs were visibly clear – especially the electronic ticker that shows how much longer the next three trains will be arriving to your platform. Two more minutes ’til ours arrive!
We heard ‘whooshing’ sounds and were immediately excited knowing that our train is coming.
Here it comes!!
The train was already full from the travelers from previous stations that refused to get off – smart like us, they wanted to experience the full line without getting on and off. With us and about sixty other people piling into the train, the comfort level was not pleasant.
Thank goodness for air-conditioned carts.
The train ride was very smooth with very few – or none at all – bumps along the way. There were no buzzing or humming sounds coming from the train itself, unlike the old Expo line.
I felt more tension on the train after an idiot decided to open his mouth. He joked to his young children, “I wonder how long it will take for our cart to collide head-on with another train.” Good job, buddy. Way to be comforting to your already nervous children. Idiot.
Stop after stop more people piled in. Influx of random people being your new sweaty armpit buddy was the worst at the Oakridge-41st station — yes, the one with the 90 minute line-up. At that point I asked TayloredMyPants if the air-conditioning was suddenly cut-off. She then explained that it was still on and it’s was just the accumulated body heat that was tricking me.
I needed air….and fast.
Staring into mostly darkness out the window didn’t help me either. From the Waterfront station to the Langara-49th station, the train rode underground. After the Langara stop, the tracks were finally above ground.
We rode to the end of the line, Richmond-Brighouse, then returned taking the train that detours to YVR.
I found this part a bit confusing – not for me, but tourists or visitors with limited English. The Canada Line has two train lines, from Waterfront to Richmond-Brighouse and back and Waterfront to YVR-Airport and back. You can catch the train that heads to the Airport at any platform station; however, it does not arrive every single time as it alternates every so often with the train that heads to Richmond-Brighouse. You must listen to the PA announcement or read the ticker listings and pay attention if the train arriving is indeed the train going to the airport.
Confusing? Maybe in my explanation. But not so much if you go out and do it yourself.
We killed some time at YVR after hearing from one of the Canada Line volunteers that free ice cream were being handed out in the airport. Sweet – more free stuff! We each got two: ‘Frog Spit’ and ‘Sour Wowers’ (lemme tell ya, they don’t call it sour wowers for nothing!).
Sadly, I found the line-up for the ice cream much more violent than an episode of Itchy & Scratchy. Calm down people! Queue up like civilized folk, quit budging and pushing… GOSH! Manners much?? It’s just ice cream!
After devouring our ice cream and perusing around the airport, we decided it was time to head back to the SkyTrain and head towards downtown before free-day was over.
On our way back to downtown, the carts were not as empty as earlier in the day. At least this time I can breathe and see outside clearly without obstruction. There were also several visitors from other countries (Sweden and Germany) using the Canada Line to full advantage already both with two full-sized luggage in tow. The luggage were not in the way of anyone as the train was very roomy. The seats had incredible leg-room that can fit you and your luggage.
Most riders left at the the Vancouver City Centre (downtown) station as more celebrations were promised here. Finally, TayloredMyPants and I got to sit down. I was quite impressed again. Seats were blue and plastic – yet, soft and cushioned. From the back grey and simple, but modernly designed. My butt thanked me. It was probably the most comfortable TransLink seats I’ve sat on ever – every part of the seat contoured to my body. No complaints there.
We spent some more time at the Waterfront station and the vicinity. At this point, it was nearly 7:30pm. Our feet hurt from so much walking and grabbing free stuff.
It was time to go home.
But we weren’t the only ones. Several hundred people made it back to Waterfront station probably heading home too. Free-day ends at 9:00pm and no one wanted to pay fare.
The long corridor leading to the Waterfront platform had two improperly constructed queues. One for YVR-Airport and one for Richmond-Brighouse. We kept switching back-and-forth between the two queues going with whichever one was the fastest since we only needed to return to the Broadway-City Hall station.
The amount of people in queue was scary going back. And we were near the front.
After another near thirty minutes in the confusing and disorganized Waterfront queue, we finally got back on the train and headed home.
There was another idiot in this cart. I dub him “Idiot #2”. He, too, couldn’t stop talking and at one point while underground Idiot #2 stupidly asked the people standing around him, “So… how much longer do you think til we see a tidal wave rush towards us?”
Soon, annoyed heads shooked and dirty looks at him followed. Idiot #2 guffawed, “Oh, but don’t worry… Keanu Reeves will come and save us. Haha.” Idiot.
I was glad I only had to share one stop with the idiot.
My train pulled into the platform and I got out with a handful of others.
Despite the idiots, rude, and uncivilized people; I was thoroughly impressed by the Canada Line.
A few things to point out, though…
So far, the $2 billion Canada Line lives up to and exceeds my expectations. But, it is still too soon to tell.
If you haven’t rode the Canada Line yet, I encourage you to do so – preferably between non-peak hours. Do try out the seats. You will not be disappointed.