Translink (Canada Line) & the Olympics

Quite rightly, VANOC is suggesting that people use transit during the Olympics to get around. This is a good & Noble goal. However, I have some concerns, particularly around use of the Canada Line. At the best of times, my experience is that tourists find our lack of transit gates to be confusing. It’s not terribly clear how to buy tickets, how to “activate” (or whatever the proper term is) them, and how long they’re useful for. This all seems clear enough to residents (although due to the supposed level of fare evasion, maybe it isn’t), however I’ve on at least a dozen of occasions helped tourists figure out how to use the Skytrain (buses are not an issue, due to there being a driver to¬† manage this).

Opening Day Line Up for the Canada Line. Photo Credit: The Buzzer
Opening Day Line Up for the Canada Line. Photo Credit: The Buzzer

About once a week, at Oakridge Skytrain station, there is a Canada Line attendant who stops and asks to see people’s tickets. This inevitably causes a slow down in getting on the train, and clearly, by the look on people’s faces, is annoying. Given how incredibly packed the Canada Line is already, I can just imagine the confusion & anger if Translink tries to do this during the Olympics. And, as I imagine Translink is looking at the Olympics as a golden opportunity to make some much-needed revenue, I’m expecting to see a veritable army of green-jacketed people checking for tickets. As a result, I’m imagining an even larger army of angry, confused & frustrated people trying to get on over-crowded trains to get downtown to venues, hotels, events and the whole thing just ending up with Translink having a black eye.

I hope that this doesn’t turn out to be the case, but given how poorly thought out the Canada Line constructions appears to have been, I am quite worried that it will end up being a fiasco. Does anyone remember the insanity of the opening day of Canada Line? Imagine that for 2 weeks now. Only it’s tourists stuck in the huge lines, who are perfectly willing to complain to all the media who I’m sure will rush to cover it, rather than us locals, who are more likely to put up with it.

It may be easier for all involved to either a) simply allow free travel on the Canada Line (or all skytrain lines) during the Olympics (highly unlikely at this point) b) provide each and every visitor who has an even ticket a commemorative transit pass (also unlikely) or c) have the Canada Line staff at the stations to help buy tickets, etc, but don’t sweat any accidental (or on-purpose) fare evasion during the Olympics to make using the service as nice as possible for all involved (also unlikely, but seems to be the lease unlikely).

8 Replies to “Translink (Canada Line) & the Olympics”

  1. Good comments – I only take transit occasionally, when it's too wet or cold to ride my bike, and still find some things confusion.

    Also, I'm pretty sure that any Olympic ticket included free transit at least to the event.

  2. Oh, good! I didn't know that about the event tickets – I failed spectacularly to buy any Olympic tickets at each of the various online auctions that VANOC had.

  3. An Olympic ticket does give people unlimited access to transit for that day. For that reason they're actually anticipating transit to be pretty overwhelmed during the Olympics. Add that to regular Vancouverites taking transit it slightly higher numbers due to road/parking restrictions and I do think things will be a right mess.

    Translink is encouraging Vancouverites to take transit, though they are asking us to find alternate/alternate modes of transport between the hours of 2 and 7pm to ease transit needs for Olympic ticket holders. Basically: walk or bike. While both those options are ones that I'm pretty open to (and use regularly) I don't really see many Vancouverites jumping at walking/biking during February to be quite honest. I suspect it will really just be a total gong show.

  4. Good comments – I only take transit occasionally, when it's too wet or cold to ride my bike, and still find some things confusion.

    Also, I'm pretty sure that any Olympic ticket included free transit at least to the event.

  5. Oh, good! I didn't know that about the event tickets – I failed spectacularly to buy any Olympic tickets at each of the various online auctions that VANOC had.

  6. An Olympic ticket does give people unlimited access to transit for that day. For that reason they're actually anticipating transit to be pretty overwhelmed during the Olympics. Add that to regular Vancouverites taking transit it slightly higher numbers due to road/parking restrictions and I do think things will be a right mess.

    Translink is encouraging Vancouverites to take transit, though they are asking us to find alternate/alternate modes of transport between the hours of 2 and 7pm to ease transit needs for Olympic ticket holders. Basically: walk or bike. While both those options are ones that I'm pretty open to (and use regularly) I don't really see many Vancouverites jumping at walking/biking during February to be quite honest. I suspect it will really just be a total gong show.

  7. It will end up being a fiasco, given's Translink's record of a total lack of foresight and ingenious planning. I'm in awe sometimes that they didn't take sustainability into consideration building the Canada Line in mind. You're hosting thousands of visitors for the world's biggest international sporting event and it's not like the Vancouver population will stop growing ever. Build a train with a larger capacity!

    By the way, biggest pet peeve ever: WAY-OUT. What the hell is “Way-Out”? Maybe Translink thought they were too cool to use “Exit” anymore. I'm just waiting for a flood of confusion when tourists try to leave the stations. Good luck everyone!

  8. Translink information officer Drew Snider revealed this week, as busy as rush hours are, the 19.2-kilometer, 16-station service has yet to reach peak ridership. Some 300000 boardings daily would reflect “peak” ridership. At present the Canada Line.

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