Todd Stone: Evergreen Line will finally become reality in summer 2016

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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 communitiesPort Moody and Coquitlamhave 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.

Comments (5) Add New Comment
xnexus
And yet, there's still no plan to put rapid transit down the Broadway corridor, the busiest bus route in all of North America. Service to Douglas College, but people heading to UBC, with both tens of thousands of students and the biggest employer in the entire province, still are expected to cram into over loaded buses. 1 billion spent on the Millenium Line, 2 billion spent on the Canada Line, and a 20 block gap between the 2 of them. A spectacular failure of leadership on every level of government of every political stripe.
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Rico
Todd Stone, nice article, but please work on the big picture issue and get Translink a better funding model. At the very least please try to actually get the funding referendum passed (To date my read on it is Christy Clark is actually working hard to make the referendum fail but I may be unfairly harsh with that).
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Frank
Increasingly it looks like Christy Clark and Todd Stone's messages are diverging.

Todd seems like he wants the referendum to succeed, while Christy seems at best indifferent, and at worst obfuscatory.

And yes, with the completion of the evergreen we`ll see a 25% increase in the number of passengers hitting the proverbial brick wall at the end of the Millennium line, Commercial Drive Station. The line critically needs to be extended down Broadway, but that seems like a distant, impossible vision right now.
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Eric Doherty
It is great to see Minister Stone extolling the benefits of rapid transit, but without a win in the transit funding referendum the rest of the transit system will be drastically cut back. The transit network has to function as a system, improving the bus system is just as important as improving rapid transit. With our growing population of older seniors, increased HandyDART service is essential given that trip denials are now seven times what they were only five years ago.

Maybe the Mayors and Minister Stone could even include funding for public washrooms at major transit hubs in the referendum package. Seniors, parents of small children, and fans of fine ales would all likely consider this a wise investment.
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Matt Foulger
Minister Stone has been saying some very encouraging things about public transit lately and it sounds like he not only wants next year's referendum to succeed, but understands that it needs to be a clear yes or no question on a tangible package of investments. Now it's time for Mr. Stone and Premier Clark to develop a winnable question and commit themselves to the referendum.

Eric Doherty is also correct that public transit investment isn't just about shiny, big ticket projects like the Evergreen Line (as important as they are). We need to invest in overall service-hours for people across the region, to improve access and mobility for people who ride the bus and rely on HandyDART. We have a good public transit system and the demand for it is enormous. We know that it works and that it delivers huge economic and social returns for everybody, even those who don't use it. Yet service-hours per capita will actually DECLINE if we continue down our current path. The referendum package must improve bus service levels, in addition to new capital investments.
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