Upgrades to TransLink infrastructure
By Mercedes Deutscher, News Editor
TransLink is pushing new transit infrastructure, specifically vehicles, in the tail end of 2016.
As the Evergreen extension draws closer to its public opening—set to open sometime before Christmas on a yet-to-be-announced date—TransLink is beginning to roll out its new trains to the surprise of many transit-users this week. The Evergreen extension introduces Mark III trains into the SkyTrain network, which have a drastically different design from the Mark I and Mark II trains that have been circulating through Expo and Millennium Line stations for years.
The Mark III holds more passengers, due to its “continuous” length. There are no breaks between cars, allowing passengers to walk from one end of the train to the other without having to exit the vehicle.
The new trains boast similarities with the Canada Line trains; cyclists will have a designated space to place their bicycles while on the train, and the new trains are quieter than their predecessors. The most noticeable difference in the Mark III trains are their design: Windows are larger, and there are fewer seats.
Meanwhile, off of the tracks, Vancouver mayor Gregor Robertson is trying to drive the idea of introducing cleaner busses into the bus fleets. These new busses would run solely on electricity—as opposed to current buses, which run either solely on diesel, or on a hybrid of diesel and electricity.
While there has been no confirmation on whether or not TransLink is planning on buying these busses, Robertson will be analyzing busses from various companies, providing input.
“It’s fantastic to see zero-emission electric buses coming on-stream now. I think it’ll be a transformation of bus fleets all over the world now to be clean and quiet,” Robertson said to the Province.
New vehicles are not the only things getting special attention from TransLink. Those who ride the train are in for a change, especially on the former Expo Line (between King George and Waterfront).
On October 22, SkyTrain lines were reconfigured to prepare riders for the Evergreen extension. Millennium Line stations no longer include stations between Waterfront and Braid. Rather, the Expo Line was divided into two: a route between Waterfront and King George, and a route between Waterfront and Production Way-University.
The reconfiguring means longer wait times for SkyTrain passengers, since trains will now be designated to run along three routes instead of two. To make up for lost time, TransLink is planning on condensing the Mark I trains. The original design for Mark I’s have the trains operate with four cars. Now, trains are being dismantled to allow the Mark I’s to operate with six cars, which will let them take more people at one time.
Re-routing and changing the trains will also allow for more trains to go to Surrey. Trains on the traditional Expo line experienced high usage and crowding during peak travelling times.