Tens of thousands of people waited for hours in “Canada lineups” yesterday to be among the first to ride the $2-billion transit system.
The 19-kilometre Canada Line, which links Vancouver with Richmond and the airport, opened to the public yesterday three-and-a-half months ahead of schedule.
More than 100,000 people had ridden the Canada Line during a free eight-hour preview.
Some waited for more than two hours in block-long lineups. The longest lineups were at Waterfront, YVR and Brighouse stations.
“The lineups weren’t too bad to start,” said Cory French, a Vancouver man who rode the train after attending the opening of the Broadway-City Hall Station. “But as you pop your head out at various stations you can see that it’s getting busier and busier.”
At one point, the lineups at YVR ran down the stairs and out onto the departures level. And just before the 1 p.m. opening, the lineup at Vancouver City Centre stretched along Granville Street from Georgia to Robson.
Bands and entertainment along with food and drink (and souvenir passports and pins), greeted riders at each of the 16 stations.
Aside from the overcrowding, people were mostly complimentary of the trains, which most found wider, more spacious and cleaner than SkyTrain cars. One even remarked about the “new train smell.”
In the morning, Premier Gordon Campbell joined International Trade Minister Stockwell Day for a ribbon-cutting ceremony at Vancouver International Airport before riding in the first train from the airport to Waterfront Station downtown.
“Every minute … for a century, there will be a car that takes people from this destination to their destinations along the line,” Campbell said. “That is an example of building a dream.”
Richmond Mayor Malcolm Brodie, Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson and VANOC CEO John Furlong boarded the train at various stops.