The Canada Line linking Vancouver to Richmond is opening three months ahead of schedule on Aug. 17.

The ride will be free on opening day, as trains will run between 1 and 9 p.m. to give commuters a chance to explore the 19-kilometre line that cost just more than $2 billion to build.

With large crowds expected that day, TransLink is saying that bikes and pets will not be allowed on the new SkyTrain cars until the following day when it opens for regular service.

Starting Aug. 18, the first northbound train will leave Richmond-Brighouse station in the mornings at 5:05 a.m., while the first southbound train will depart Waterfront Station at 4:50 a.m. Standard TransLink fares will apply at first, but starting in 2010 commuters going to any of the three stations on Sea Island, including YVR-Airport, will pay an additional $2.50. The completion of the line makes Vancouver the first Canadian city to have a rapid transit line connecting downtown and the airport. The trip is supposed to take 25 minutes.