13 things you need to know about SkyTrain's Evergreen Extension

Nov 30 2016, 9:07 am

After over four years of construction and decades of planning, the Evergreen extension of SkyTrain’s Millennium Line will open Friday, December 2 at noon. A number of public celebrations and festivities are planned at stations throughout the day.

Here is what you need to know about the largest expansion to Metro Vancouver’s public transit system since the summer 2009 opening of the Canada Line:

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1. It’s called the Evergreen Line It’s part of the Millennium Line

As you will notice on the new SkyTrain maps, the project is an extension of SkyTrain’s existing Millennium Line and is no longer referred to as the ‘Evergreen Line’, a name that the extension inherited.

Approximately a decade and a half ago, when the project was planned as the region’s next SkyTrain expansion project, the extension was referred to as the Port Moody-Coquitlam (PMC) extension of the then newly-built Millennium Line, but that name was abandoned when TransLink’s then elected board of directors made a decision to change the project from an extension of existing SkyTrain technology to a standalone light rail transit (LRT) system operating primarily on ground level.

With the switch, a new name for the project was required, and the “Evergreen Line” name was ultimately adopted for the LRT iteration of the project after a six-week-long public competition.

Nearly 1,500 entries were submitted by the public, of which two were shortlisted for consideration. “Spirit Line” and “Evergreen Line” were tested in focus groups, and the latter selection became the preferred name.

However, in early-2008, after the provincial government completed a business case that favoured SkyTrain’s superior capacity, speed, ridership, and synergies with the existing rail system, the LRT project was canceled and the project reverted back to being an extension of the Millennium Line as originally planned.

Instead of rebranding the entire existing Millennium Line as the “Evergreen Line”, the name has been scrapped.

Similarly, the so-called future “Broadway Subway” will also be an extension of the Millennium Line and will not carry its own name once operational.

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2. The world’s longest fully-automated railway and Canada’s longest rapid transit network

With the completion of the 11-km-long Evergreen extension, Metro Vancouver’s SkyTrain network will reclaim the title of the world’s longest fully-automated rapid transit system. This includes a two-km tunnel section, reaching depths of 55 metres (180 feet), built using a tunnel boring machine.

The Evergreen extension will push the SkyTrain network to a lenght of 79.6 kms, beating the Dubai Metro which took the title away from TransLink in 2012 when its system reached 74.6 kms in length.

Additionally, for at least a few years until expansion projects are completed in Toronto, SkyTrain is Canada’s longest rapid transit rail network. The system is currently longer than Toronto’s TTC subway (68.3 kms) and the Montreal Metro (69.2 kms).

Image credit: Evergreen Line Project Office

Image credit: Evergreen Line Project Office

3. There are six new stations

Six new stations have been constructed for the Evergreen extension (listed in order from west to east):

  • Burquitlam Station (elevated): Clarke Road near Smith Avenue
  • Moody Centre Station (ground level): Williams Street near Spring Street
  • Inlet Centre Station (underground): Saint Johns Street near Ioco Road
  • Coquitlam Central Station (elevated): Lougheed Highway near Barnet Highway
  • Lincoln Station (elevated): northwest corner of the intersection of Lincoln Avenue and Pinetree Way
  • Lafarge Lake-Douglas Station (elevated): northeast corner of the intersection of Guildford Way and Pinetree Way

This does not include a newly-built third platform at the existing Lougheed Town Centre Station to accommodate the expected surge in train movements and passenger foot traffic within the station.

Image: Kenneth Chan / Daily Hive

Photo credit: Kenneth Chan / Daily Hive

4. Changes to Lougheed Town Centre Station

As of October 22, the terminus for the Millennium Line was moved to Lougheed Town Centre, but that will change to Lafarge Lake-Douglas Station near Coquitlam Centre when the Evergreen extension opens.

These will be the new platform directions at Lougheed Town Centre Station:

  • North Platform (newly built for Evergreen extension)
    • Trains arrive from: VCC-Clark Station on the Millennium Line
    • Trains depart towards: Lafarge Lake-Douglas Station on the Millennium Line
  • Centre Platform (existing)
    • Trains arrive from: Lafarge Lake-Douglas Station on the Millennium Line and Waterfront Station (via Columbia Station) on the Expo Line
    • Trains depart towards: VCC-Clark Station on the Millennium Line and Production Way-University Station on the Expo Line
  • South Platform (existing)
    • Trains arrive from: Production Way-University Station on the Expo Line
    • Trains depart towards: Waterfront Station (via Columbia Station) on the Expo Line

Alternatively, passengers can also transfer between the Expo and Millennium lines at Production Way-University Station.

5. Bus changes in the Tri Cities

Beginning on December 19, there will be a number of changes to TransLink’s bus network in the Tri Cities to better optimize the system with the introduction of the SkyTrain extension, which includes rerouting existing bus routes to feed the new train stations and eliminating bus routes that parallel the Evergreen route.

Some of the biggest changes are:

  • The cancellation of the 97 B-Line
  • The cancellation of the 190 Vancouver/Coquitlam Station
  • The 143 will now run from Burquitlam Station to Simon Fraser University’s Burnaby Mountain campus
  • Running between Coquitlam Central Station and Princeton, the new 191 route will introduce bus service to Burke Mountain
  • The cancellation of the West Coast Express TrainBus on December 30, to be replaced with an extended route of the 701 to Mission

For the full list of changes, visit TransLink’s website.

6. Two interchange stations to the West Coast Express

There are now more options for West Coast Express commuter rail passengers as they can transfer to SkyTrain at either Moody Centre Station or Coquitlam Central Station, and both stations are also served by enhanced bus routes.

7. Electronic train arrival signage on platforms

Like the Canada Line, the platforms of the new stations of the Evergreen extension will boast digital signage that shows the current time, the destinations of the next trains, and the arrival time of the trains.

8. All stations are built with both up and down escalators

Unlike the Canada Line, Expo Line, and the rest of the Millennium Line stations, the Evergreen extension’s new stations – including the new third platform at Lougheed – are built with up and down escalators to all levels of the station.

This accommodates future growth in passenger traffic at each station and acknowledges the region’s growing elderly population.

Photo credit: Kenneth Chan / Daily Hive

Photo credit: Kenneth Chan / Daily Hive

9. Park and ride facilities

A total of 650 park and ride spaces will be made available at three new Evergreen extension stations, including Coquitlam Central Station (415 spaces), Lafarge Lake-Douglas Station (150 spaces), and Moody Centre Station (85 spaces). Another 70-space facility will open at Lincoln Station.

10. One-train ride from Vancouver to Coquitlam

It is only a 16 minute ride along the new span of track built for the Evergreen extension, from Lougheed Town Centre to Lafarge Lake-Douglas stations.

Passengers traveling from VCC-Clark Station in Vancouver to Lafarge Lake-Douglas Station in Coquitlam will be able to take a transferless, one-train ride. The travel time from the Millennium’s Vancouver terminus to the new Coquitlam terminus is 36 minutes, which is highly competitive to trips performed by vehicle during most times of the day.

11. Frequent trains

Using two-car trains, the Millennium Line trains from VCC-Clark to Lafarge Lake-Douglas stations will operate every 3 minutes during the morning and evening peak periods, approximately every 6 minutes during mid-day hours between the peak periods, and every 10 minutes at night.

Trains run every 7 to 8 minutes during most hours of the day on Saturday, Sunday, and holidays.

12. Construction costs came under budget

The Evergreen extension project had a budget of $1.431 billion, but the latest update on the project’s finances indicate it will cost $70 million less than expected, even with construction delays due to issues with tunnel boring. This is largely due to the contract that stipulated the private contractor, a consortium led by SNC-Lavalin, is responsible for any cost overruns.

The project was funded by the provincial government ($586 million), federal government ($424 million), TransLink ($400 million), and other sources and partners ($21 million).

Construction began in May 2012, and the extension was originally scheduled for an opening in summer 2016.

13. Ridership

Planners forecast 50,000 people will ride the extension daily by the end of its first year of operations, and by 2021 ridership will grow to 70,000.

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