News / Vancouver

Evergreen Line will push Commercial-Broadway to the limit

New SkyTrain extension will put more strain on the crowded Commercial-Broadway station, according to SFU transit expert.

The Millennium Line platform at Commercial-Broadway station.

Jennifer Gauthier/Metro

The Millennium Line platform at Commercial-Broadway station.

The biggest bottleneck in Metro Vancouver’s public transit system will be further stretched by the Evergreen Line, according to SFU urban studies associate professor Peter Hall.

Commercial-Broadway station is already the second busiest station in the region and the most congested during rush hour as the Expo Line, Millennium Line and 99 B-line bus converge to create a chaotic rush-hour of crowding, pass ups and frustration.

The opening of the Evergreen Line Friday, expected to attract even more riders to the Millennium Line, will only make things worse, said Hall.

“I think there are some really important operational questions for TransLink. It’s smart that they’re launching [Evergreen] at the end of the SFU term and into the holiday period because there are definitely going to be some confused riders and some challenges with the transfer points,” he said. “One of the obvious shortcoming that we’re all going to learn about is that Broadway and Commercial is being asked to do something it just can’t do. It’s just going to be a lot more volume at an already busy facility.”

TransLink spokesperson Chris Bryan told Metro the transit authority is doing everything it can to alleviate more congestion.

Millennium Line trains (Evergreen included) already run more frequently to avoid large build-ups of passengers travelling downtown.

Expo Line trains from downtown to Surrey are now longer to allow more people to board and clear platform space.

TransLink is also upgrading the station with a new pedestrian overpass and a third Expo Line platform to increase capacity and speed up boarding times.

“The concerns are certainly understandable, it’s an incredibly busy hub today,” said Bryan. “We’re doing everything we can to alleviate the crowding there and make it go more smoothly when additional people board with the Evergreen extension opening.”

In the long term, Hall said it’s important for the region to close transit loops (by further expanding the system) and either eliminate the need for transferring trains or integrating with other alternatives like the Canada Line.

“We have a system which is actually a series of one-way dead ends. If there was somewhere else people could go beyond VCC-Clark – downtown or through to Olympic Village or City Hall-Broadway, even out to UBC – that would certainly alleviate some of the congestion we’ll experience at Commercial-Broadway,” Hall said. “I think those kind of questions are going to come up again once people get used to the Evergreen Line.”

Vancouver’s proposed subway along Broadway to Arbutus Street – part of the currently unfunded Phase 2 of the region’s 10-year transit plan – is intended to do just that.

Until then, Hall said it’s not the worst problem for transit and urban planners to have.

“At least you’ve got a good news story here,” he said. “Lots of people wanting to transfer [and taking public transit] is a good thing.”

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