Community of Metros News: Vancouver SkyTrain Joins

Vancouver SkyTrain has joined the Community of Metros as part of the Nova consortium as of September 2016. SkyTrain is the oldest and one of the longest fully-automated driverless metro systems in the world. Vancouver is the largest city in western Canada and the centre of the Lower Mainland region in the province of British Columbia, which comprises a total of 2.6 million inhabitants.

The SkyTrain network consists of three medium-capacity metro lines totalling 79km with 53 stations. The Expo and Millennium Lines are directly operated by member BCRTC (the British Columbia Rapid Transit Company, a subsidiary of regional transport authority TransLink), while the Canada Line is operated by private-sector contractor ProTrans BC through a PPP arrangement. The total system transports nearly 120m annual boardings as part of a integrated multimodal public transport network that include a large bus network, the West Coast Express commuter rail line, and the SeaBus ferry service.

The system first opened in 1985 for the World Exposition (Expo86) with the Expo Line from downtown Vancouver to New Westminster. The line was expanded in the late 1980s and early 1990s across the Fraser River to Surrey. The Millennium Line was the second line opened in 2002, forming a loop with the Expo Line. The 19km, 16-station Canada Line was built in advance of the 2010 Winter Olympics using a PPP arrangement. It opened in 2009 and links the city centre with the airport and major satellite city (Richmond) along what had been one of the city’s busiest bus corridors.

At the start of December 2016 the 11km Evergreen Extension to the Millennium Line will open in the northeast part of the Vancouver area. In advance of this opening in October 2016 Expo and Millennium Line services will be reconfigured, reducing the overlapping section to downtown Vancouver.

The SkyTrain network is fully accessible, with step-free access to all stations and trains. The Expo and Millennium Lines use Bombardier Advanced Rapid Transit technology, which uses linear induction motors and delivers fast and very frequent service with relatively smaller, lower-capacity trains. The same technology is also used by Nova member Kuala Lumpur RapidKL on the Kelana Jaya Line. The Canada Line uses conventional AC motor technology with larger cars operating two-car trains.

Future plans for the SkyTrain network include adding capacity with additional rolling stock and potential extensions as well as managing ageing infrastructure that is now more than 30 years old. One such extension project is the Millennium Line Broadway Extension, which would add 6km and 6 stations underground and link the Millennium Line to the Canada Line along what is currently one of the busiest bus corridors in North America.