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).