Todd Stone: Evergreen Line will finally become reality in summer 2016
People have wanted the Evergreen Line for a long time and this really struck me when I toured the Lower Mainland's transit system this fall.
At the Lougheed Town Centre Station I spotted a spur of track, coming to an abrupt end after maybe 90 metres or about 300 feet. "That's for the Evergreen Line, and it's been there since 2002, when the Millennium Line opened," Transportation and Infrastructure Ministry staff explained.
Two communities—Port Moody and Coquitlam—have been waiting for rapid transit for more than 20 years. They will get their new line in summer 2016, and that 90-metre piece of track will have grown to become 11 kilometres of new track, and Metro Vancouver will then have the longest rapid transit system in the country.
Trains will run every three minutes during peak travelling times. Service will be almost 20 hours every day. The trip from Lafarge Lake-Douglas Station to Lougheed Town Centre will take about 15 minutes, compared with 40 minutes by bus during rush hour today. The train will take you from Lafarge Lake-Douglas Station to Vancouver in about 40 minutes.
Students will enjoy quick and easy trips to Douglas College and improved access to Simon Fraser University. They can even catch up on their reading en route. Families will have better transit connections for shopping, running errands, and trips downtown to visit Science World or attend shows and sporting events. Commuters can get to work more easily than before and save money when you consider things like parking. Everyone will have more choices about how to travel.
The Evergreen Line will carry 70,000 passengers every day, removing 40,000 cars from the road. This expansion is absolutely necessary for a region that will grow by a million people over the next 30 years.
But transit is more than getting from Point A to Point B. The Evergreen Line will also strengthen our economy and communities.
In anticipation of the Evergreen Line, more than 2,600 housing units are either complete, or underway near Lincoln Station in Coquitlam. Two blocks away, 750 residential units plus retail are being planned. Around stations in Port Moody, that city is looking at ways to increase transit-oriented development that encourages people to use transit, walk, and cycle.
Over the last couple of years young families have been visiting the project office to find out where the stations will be—proving once again that people want to live, shop, and work near SkyTrain because it makes their lives easier. The Evergreen Line will make that possible for more people in the Lower Mainland.
Construction of the Evergreen Line is well underway. Crews are building the track (also known as the guideway), construction at five of the six new stations has started. The tunnel-boring machine is being assembled and tunnel construction will start in the new year.
Government set clear goals for Evergreen Line: to stimulate community growth and development, to create walkable communities with shorter commutes, and to improve transportation choices for families and communities.
We're already seeing progress toward the first two goals. And in summer of 2016, we will achieve the third—when the Evergreen Line becomes a reality and we deliver on our promise.