The high tech and the not so much of Vancouver 2010

This is something that has made me chuckle for a number of trips through the Olympic Village Station on the Canada Line. Located right around the corner from the entrance of the station is the Olympic Line streetcar, which is an amazing piece of technology and is, if I might say so, kinda sexy.

Olympic Line Media Preview

Pretty cool, right? But to let people coming out of the station know which direction to go to get to this marvelous piece of transit equipment, you get this dry erase board.

High-tech sign for Olympic Line at Olympic Village Station


It’s just something that makes you laugh a little bit when you think about everything else that has been put in place or built for the Olympics. They could have put some stickers on it or wrapped it with some fancy graphics or something. But no, just this dry erase board that, oddly enough, has never been tampered with.

And the only reason I mention it at all is because when you go towards the bridge, about 100 feet in the opposite direction, you see this.

Olympic Line Opening Day

This is too large to fit on the other sign at the entrance, but could easily be put on that other sign if shrunk down. Still, whatever works. Long live ghetto engineering.

Thoughts on a Canada Line platform

Waterfront Canada Line Station by Miss604 on
Waterfront Canada Line Station by Miss604 on

It’s been nearly three weeks since the Canada Line has opened, and I keep thinking about how much it has changed my daily life every time I take it.

Sure, there might be a day when something goes wrong and the next train will take forever to show up that I’ll be reduced to the multi-bus commute to get to work (which has already happened but not on my watch), but accidents, mishaps, and generally bad days can and do happen.

I had a great experience riding the train home on the day of my first commute.

Standing at the platform, a co-worker walked down the stairs while I was waiting for the next train. I was heading downtown, and he was going to pop off into Yaletown. He doesn’t live around there but couldn’t pass up the chance to try it out.

We stood there talking about how he was using the opportunity to shop around Yaletown a little before going home, which I’m sure many businesses down there are hoping for more of, when someone else walked up to chat about how amazing this whole thing was.

“It’s so Vancouver. It looks great, works amazingly. I just love it.”

I couldn’t help but nod my head with the stranger while he sipped his frozen latte.

“I’m just so sick of all those people who say this is a waste of money. I wish those people would just go somewhere and die. Because you know, we need more of this. Out to the valley, to UBC, shut off those motors on the buses. It would be tremendous!”

This man was genuinely excited about this new form of transit, as crazy as that is to think about. But I had a very hard time disagreeing with him, minus the whole wishing people die thing.

Picture perfect Vancouver morning

On my way to work, I had to stop and snap this photo because it really sums up Vancouver in so many ways.

Cold, Sunny, Vancouver Morning

Construction, traffic, beautiful skyline, and frosted mountains. The first two should get better over the coming months, and I’ll be glad to see it all go. The last two, on the other hand, I never get tired of.

Laying down new tracks for Vancouver’s Olympic Line streetcar

My trek to work often takes me through the various areas in and around False Creek, and one day while heading down to catch the bus, my usual shortcut of hopping over the trolley car tracks surprised me when there weren’t any tracks to be seen.

Missing trolly tracks

It didn’t take me too long to recall why they were missing, and I know it wasn’t all of the Canada Line’s fault. More so, it’s the Olympics, and Paul Hillsdon mentioned this on his blog awhile ago.

It was announced today that Bombardier Transportation will bring two modern, Flexity Outlook streetcars on loan from Brussels, Belgium to Vancouver for use during the 2010 Olympics. The streetcar demonstration project will run between January 21 to March 21, 2010. The official name of the project is The Olympic Line – Vancouver’s 2010 Streetcar. []

The Downtown Streetcar Project is the big picture, and this demonstration is only the beginning phase of an ambitious plan to connect Granville Island, Gastown, and Stanley Park with this new transportation system.

Missing tracks

As someone who is a big fan of public transportation, I like the idea of this project. However, it remains to be seen as to how quickly something like this can be fully implemented and operational to the extent that it will help the congestion problems currently plaguing Vancouver. It would be pretty awesome to take something like this to work from the West End, but the Canada Line is already something I’m waiting for at the top of my wish list in terms of daily commutes.

Cambie and Broadway are starting to look like streets again

Being that I work in the area near Southeast False Creek[wiki], my daily commute takes me through the heart of the Canada Line construction. Anyone who has seen that area on even a somewhat regular basis will tell you that it is a pain. Whether you are going on foot, transit, or your personal vehicle, you have to have patience to get through it all. That or wish for some good luck.

Canada Line construction on Broadway and Cambie

In the last couple of weeks, things are starting to resemble something normal again. There is a large amount of the streets being black topped, bus stops are shuffling a little bit, and there are more forms being put in place to build street curbs.

This is a big deal to me because there have been intersections that seemed to be dug up, work done, covered back up with black top, and the process repeats itself about three more times, in the exact same spots. The heavy machines come in and out to bust things up and repair it, almost like they are doing it for fun. Curbs seem to symbolize that something more permanent is on the horizon.

Construction on Broadway and Cambie

It just doesn’t stop with the Canada Line though. There are more condos and stores being developed in the same vicinity, so the extra trucks getting through the already congested and rerouted traffic is hopelessly frustrating. You know it’s going to be over soon, so there is light at the end of the tunnel.

Oh yeah, and there is also that Olympic village being built. Can’t forget all those workers flooding the area along with their trucks and equipment.

Even the Wendy’s in the area just shut down to renovate, and Subway is setting up shop next to a new RBC bank just around the corner. There’s already a second Starbucks in six months in the area between Broadway and the bridge, plus a coming London Drug and Whole Foods on the same stretch of street.

Construction on Broadway and Cambie

The area of the Olympic village is also slated to get a London Drug and Urban Fare, but I can’t be sure on those time lines being before or after the Olympics.

It looks like I’m not the only one getting anxious for Cambie Street to come back, but the most important thing for me is getting the transit system free of construction traffic. There’s nothing worse than feeling like your running way ahead of schedule to get to work and end up stuck on the bridge for 25 minutes while you creep slowly to the only stop on the other side at Broadway.