New additional platform to be built for SkyTrain's Commercial-Broadway Station

Over the next few years, major renovations will be coming to some of SkyTrain’s oldest and busiest stations. The most significant of these station upgrades is anticipated to be done for Commercial-Broadway Station, where a new additional platform will be built to address congestion and overcrowding.

Commercial-Broadway Station is Metro Vancouver’s busiest transit hub. It is an interchange station for the Expo and Millennium SkyTrain lines, the terminus for the 99 B-Line, as well as a nexus for many other bus routes. More than 150,000 passengers utilize Commercial-Broadway Station each day – the number of passengers that utilize the station to transfer between transit services. Currently, Commercial-Broadway is the most congested station in the region’s public transit system and Translink has identified that further improvements to capacity and circulation within the station hub complex are required.

Translink has identified the “Spanish Solution” as the optimum path to address the severe overcrowding on the Commercial-Broadway Station train platforms during the morning and afternoon peak rushes, when long and crowded queues at the older Expo Line platform are a regular norm. The Spanish Solution involves the construction of another platform to the east of the station, where Safeway is located. A portion of Safeway will be demolished to make way for the additional platform, the expanded ground-level concourse for the new platform, and the staircase, escalators, and elevators leading to the new third platform. A second elevated pedestrian overpass will also be constructed across Broadway Avenue and over Shoppers Drug Mart to serve the new third platform – to increase circulation capacity between the Expo and Millennium Lines.

The Spanish Solution has been implemented in many major transit stations around the world, but apart from the Seabus stations at Waterfront and Lonsdale, this will be its first implementation in Metro Vancouver. The new third platform will serve as an “outboard platform,” for exit only. The existing centre platform will be a shared entrance and exit platform for trains to Surrey as well as the entrance for trains to Waterfront. The new outboard platform will likely be used exclusively for exiting, with train doors facing the new outboard platform opening a few seconds earlier before the train doors facing the centre entrance platform. In essence, for trains traveling to Downtown Vancouver on the Expo Line, there will be one platform for boarding (existing centre platform) and another platform for disembarking (the new outboard platform).

A diagram showing an example of the Spanish Solution

Construction on this second phase of the Commercial-Broadway Station improvements is anticipated to begin in fall 2014 for a spring 2016 completion. Improvements are being timed with the opening of the SkyTrain Evergreen Line in the summer of 2016, these upgrades to Commercial-Broadway Station will prepare the hub for 25% higher passenger volumes from the Evergreen Line. With the Evergreen Line, trains on the existing Millennium Line track will run twice as frequent as today. In the future, a fourth platform for this Expo Line station structure is also a potential possibility – a new additional platform built on the west side of the existing station, where the alleyway currently exists, as depicted in the diagram.

Other major station renovations are also planned for Main Street-Science World and Metrotown Stations. For this reason, both stations will not be outfitted with fare gates in time for the new smart card/fare gate system when it goes operational in fall 2013. Construction will begin in fall 2013 on a complete retrofit of Main Street-Science World to greatly improve safety, visibility, circulation and capacity. This includes a new station house for the east side of the station, improved aesthetics, and a new entrance on the west side of the station. Main Street-Science World Station is the oldest station in the SkyTrain network, it was completed in 1983 three years prior to the opening of SkyTrain in 1986 – it served as the boarding and disembarking station for a 1-kilometre demonstration track for SkyTrain.

Major retrofits for Metrotown Station will include a new and significantly expanded ticketing concourse, with sufficient space to install the many fare gates needed to handle the high constant stream of passenger volumes the station attains. The ticketing concourse will be served by multiple escalators and staircases that reach the platform level as well as two new wide pedestrian bridges connecting pedestrians to Metropolis at Metrotown Shopping Centre. The Metrotown Station bus loop will also be relocated to a new in-street loop directly below the SkyTrain station. Metrotown Station is among the busiest on the SkyTrain system, the station was not built with the shopping centre and its current station circulation volumes in mind. Construction on Metrotown Station upgrades is expected to begin in fall 2013.

The total cost of all three station upgrades at Commercial-Broadway, Main Street-Science World, and Metrotown is anticipated to exceed $100-million.


Written by Kenneth Chan, a Columnist at Vancity Buzz. Follow me on Twitter: @kjmagine

Image credits: Translink


Renderings of Main Street-Science World Station Improvements


Renderings of Metrotown Station Improvements