How transit commutes will change as SkyTrain lines reconfigure

Millennium Line shrinks, Expo Line to get two branches as of Oct. 22 ahead of Evergreen 'extension' opening

TransLink is reconfiguring how SkyTrain lines are routed effective Oct. 22 in preparation for the opening of the Evergreen extension to Coquitlam later this year.

The makeover reduces the Millennium Line to an east-west route only between VCC Clark and Lougheed Station in Burnaby, extending to six new stations in Port Moody and Coquitlam once the new line opens. The new Evergreen Line will actually be named the Millennium Line’s Evergreen Extension.

The Expo Line will be split into two branches originating from Waterfront in downtown Vancouver – one terminating at King George in Surrey, as the Expo Line now does, and a second branch that curves up through New West and Burnaby ending at Production Way-University Station.

TransLink officials say it makes the Millennium Line operate more logically, with less confusion for riders than now, where Millennium trains pass through the Broadway/Commercial going both north-south and east-west.

And the Expo Line’s new split terminus will be similar to how the Canada Line goes to both YVR Airport and Richmond-Brighouse.

Passengers who intend to ride SkyTrain between Surrey and Coquitlam once Evergreen opens and who might have been hoping for just a one or even no transfer ride will not get that wish with the new configuration.

Those Surrey-Coquitlam passengers will have to change trains twice – one transfer at Lougheed from the Millennium Line’s Evergreen Extension to the new branch of the Expo Line, and again at Columbia in New Westminster to the other Surrey-bound branch of Expo.

In fact, Surrey passengers who ride SkyTrain to north Burnaby will have to make one more transfer than they now do.

The Expo branch to Production Way-University terminates there – one station past Lougheed – in order to connect students from Surrey to the bus loop that serves SFU.

Because the Millennium Line no longer goes to downtown Vancouver, commuters in North Burnaby areas like Brentwood Town Centre also face an extra transfer to downtown.

And future Evergreen riders from Port Moody and Coquitlam will have to transfer at Commercial/Broadway to go downtown.

BC Rapid Transit Co. Ltd. manager of operations planning Ian Fisher said the retooled Millennium Line will run more frequently – every 3.5 minutes of more than five minutes apart – and that should help reduce congestion at Commercial-Broadway, the system’s biggest bottleneck.

He said there will be slightly longer waits for Expo Line trains – about an extra 10 seconds at peak times – but longer trains will run more consistently there, providing more capacity.

More details can be found at translink.ca/skytrainchanges.

“We are focused on helping our customers make a smooth transition to the new operating pattern,” TransLink CEO Kevin Desmond said. “By doing this well in advance of opening the Evergreen Extension we are giving our customers a chance to adjust and learn how the changes may affect how they travel on our system.”

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