|Locale||Metro Vancouver, BC|
|Type||Light metro rapid transit|
|Number of lines||3|
|Number of stations||57|
|Launched||December 11, 1985|
BC Transit (1985–1999)
|Operator||BC Rapid Transit Company|
(Expo & Millennium lines)
ProTransBC (Canada Line)
342 - Expo and Millennium lines
64 - Canada Line
|Line length||79.5 km (49.4 mi)|
|Track gauge||1,435 mm (4 ft 8 1⁄2 in)|
(650V DC for Expo & Millennium lines)
(750V DC for Canada Line)
|Operating speed||80 km/h (50 mph)|
SkyTrain is the regional rapid transit system serving Metro Vancouver in British Columbia. The system runs mainly on an elevated track and is fully automated. Stations are monitored by attendants.
The Expo Line and the Millennium Line are operated by the British Columbia Rapid Transit Company, a TransLink operating company. The Canada Line is operated by ProTrans BC, a private contractor, under a 35-year contract and is operationally separate from the other lines.
Following the opening of the Evergreen Extension on December 2, 2016, SkyTrain became the longest rapid transit system in Canada and the longest fully automated and driverless rail system in the world. This was surpassed by the Dubai Metro in 2021.
By the 1970s, traffic congestion had become a problem in Vancouver and rapid transit was increasingly seen as a solution. Prior to construction and planning, there were plans during the construction of the Trans-Canada Highway to extend into Vancouver and provide easy freeway access through Downtown Vancouver and over the Burrard Inlet towards the North Shore. In anticipation of the infrastructure project, the City of Vancouver demolished sections of Hogan's Alley – a predominantly African-Canadian community – and parts of Chinatown for the construction of the Dunsmuir and Georgia Viaducts. However, the citizens of Vancouver opposed the infrastructure project, citing environmental reasons and the protection of heritage neighbourhoods, as most of Chinatown, Gastown, and Strathcona would be cleared to make way for the freeway, in addition to portions of downtown being demolished for the construction of a freeway right-of-way.
In response to the opposition of freeways, the City of Vancouver opted in for rapid transit. Initial planning and studies in the 1970s called for an extensive light rail system weaving around Downtown Vancouver and into other populated areas in Vancouver.
By the end of the 1970s, the Urban Transportation Development Corporation (UTDC), an Ontario crown corporation, was perfecting its Intermediate Capacity Transit System (ICTS). It was designed to be lighter and smaller (and therefore cheaper to build and run) than a full-fledged heavy-rail subway, but capable of higher capacities and shorter headways than a streetcar line. On May 29, 1981, a contract was signed with UTDC for an ICTS system.
Main article: Expo Line
A short, one-kilometre section of track and guideway and a station (Main Street) was built and operated in the summer of 1983 as an early demonstration of the ICTS system. This section was later integrated into a 15-station line (Waterfront to New Westminster) and was a showpiece for Expo 86. The line opened with a soft launch on December 11, 1985, with full revenue service commencing on January 3, 1986. After the completion of the initial phase from Waterfront to New Westminster, there were plans for extending the line south to Surrey and east to Coquitlam. The extension into Surrey was favoured, but it was not without opposition from Coquitlam.
Work on the Surrey extension began with a short extension in 1989 further into New Westminster with a new station at Columbia. The line was extended again across the Fraser River to Scott Road in 1990. The line was extended further with three new stations into Surrey to King George, its present eastern terminus, in 1994.
After the Millennium Line opened in 2002, the initial SkyTrain line was renamed Expo Line. Prior to that, the line was referred to simply as "SkyTrain," or as "ALRT" and "Rapid Transit" during the planning and construction phases.
Rapid Transit 2000
Initial expansion plans called for a spur line from Royal Oak Station to Coquitlam via Lougheed Mall. This idea was later scrapped. In 1995, Premier Mike Harcourt announced that a street-level light rail line would be built along Broadway and Lougheed Highway to Coquitlam Centre. Not long into the plan's study, the government announced that the line would become SkyTrain line that would run between Broadway Station and Lougheed Mall.
The network expansion coined the name "Rapid Transit 2000" and would later be known as the Millennium Line following completion. The Millennium Line opened in phases with the first phase on January 7, 2002 (Waterfront to Braid) and the second phase on August 31 of that year (Braid to Commercial Drive). A short extension to its current terminus at VCC–Clark opened on January 6, 2006. The SkyTrain fleet was expanded with next-generation ICTS, now known as Advanced Rapid Transit (ART), vehicles.
Critics of the project dubbed it the "SkyTrain to Nowhere" and claimed that the routing of the Millennium Line was based on political concerns.
Main article: Canada Line
A SkyTrain line to the airport, that also served Richmond, was announced by BC Transit Minister Joy McPhail in 1998. He suggested that the new line could be part of a bid for the 2010 Winter Olympics. It was decided in 2005 to build the line through a public-private partnership. InTransitBC, a consortium headed by SNC-Lavalin, was awarded the contract on July 29, 2005, to design, build, and operate the line. Initially referred to as the R.A.V Line (Richmond-Airport-Vancouver) and later named the Canada Line, it opened on August 17, 2009, ahead of schedule and ahead of the 2010 Winter Olympics. Unlike the rest of the SkyTrain network, the Canada Line does not use ICTS/ART technology.
Evergreen Extension and Network Re-alignment
Main article: Evergreen Extension
In mid-2013, construction began on the next extension of the Millennium Line. Referred to as the Evergreen Line from the very first plans of the new route, it is now referred to as a mere extension of the existing Millennium Line.
October 2016 saw an entire re-alignment of the system. To prepare for the opening of the Evergreen Extension, a branch to Production Way was added to the Expo Line, which caused Sapperton and Braid to re-brand as Expo Line Stations. In addition, Lougheed and Production Way became dual-branded as Expo and Millennium Line stations. The other big change was on the Millennium Line, which was short-turned at Lougheed from VCC–Clark - No more Millennium Line trains ran between Waterfront and Lougheed. Because of this, stations Waterfront thru Columbia (excluding Commercial–Broadway) were branded as solely Expo Line Stations for the first time since 2001. This was necessary since it was proven too difficult to have a simultaneous pattern of both Evergreen and Millennium Line trains on the existing Millennium line branch between Lougheed and VCC–Clark. Limited resources and increased demand for the Expo Line branches were additional factors of the re-alignment.
The re-alignment also had an effect on train lengths. It is now uncommon to see a 4-car Mark 1 set and for the first time since before the Olympics, 2-car Mark IIs serve the Millennium Line branch. In addition, the newly ordered Mark IIIs and older Mark Is are strictly allocated to the Expo Line, making Mark IIs the most widespread fleet in the entire system.
|Line name||Commencement||Termini||Length (km)||Stations||Running time|
|Expo Line||December 11, 1985||Waterfront||
|Millennium Line||January 2, 2002||VCC–Clark||Lafarge Lake–Douglas||31.2||17||36 minutes|
|Canada Line||August 17, 2009||Waterfront||Richmond–Brighouse
|Yard||Opened||Code||Lines serviced||Rolling stock|
|Operations and Maintenance Centre||December 11, 1985||OMC1|
|Coquitlam Maintenance Centre||December 2, 2016||OMC3|
|Canada Line Operations and Maintenance Centre||August 17, 2009||N/A|
Expo and Millennium lines
|Fleet numbers||Thumbnail||Year||Manufacturer||Model||Traction||A/C||Cars per set||Open gangways||Notes|
|001–056||1984||UTDC||ICTS MK I||Bombardier/UTDC
|061–118||1985||UTDC||ICTS MK I||Bombardier/UTDC
|121–136||1991||UTDC||ICTS MK I||Bombardier/UTDC
|137–156||1995||Bombardier||ICTS MK I||Bombardier/UTDC
|201–260||2001||Bombardier||ART MK II||Toshiba
|301–348||2009–2010||Bombardier||ART MK II||Bombardier MITRAC
|401–484||2015, 2018–2019||Bombardier||INNOVIA Metro
300 MK III
|Fleet numbers||Thumbnail||Year||Manufacturer||Model||A/C||Cars per set||Open gangways||Notes|
|101/201–132/232||2008, 2019||Hyundai Rotem||EMU||Yes||2||Yes||
Expo and Millennium lines
(41 x 5-car sets)
(6 x 5-car sets)
- [https://web.archive.org/web/20181110080355/https://www.translink.ca/-/media/Documents/about_translink/corporate_overview/corporate_reports/history/translink_history_nov_2008.pdf "THE ROAD LESS TRAVELLED" TransLink’s Improbable Journey from 1999 to 2008], TransLink archived by WayBack Machine. November 20, 2008. Retrieved May 13, 2016. Archived November 10, 2018
- [https://web.archive.org/web/20181110080355/https://www.translink.ca/-/media/Documents/about_translink/corporate_overview/corporate_reports/history/translink_history_nov_2008.pdf THE ROAD LESS TRAVELLED TransLink’s Improbable Journey from 1999 to 2008]. Retrieved May 13, 2016. Archived November 10, 2018
- Sullivan, P. (2002, January 8) B.C.'s SkyTrain to nowhere, The Globe and Mail, retrieved 07-11-2021
- Pabillano, Jhenifer. "Improved interiors for the new SkyTrain cars!" The Buzzer blog. TransLink. 6 May 2009. Web. Retrieved on 04 February 2013.
- "TransLink accelerating delivery of new SkyTrain cars" translink.ca, retrieved February 23, 2018
- TransLink to buy 205 new SkyTrain cars from Bombardier for $723 million, dailyhive.com, retrieved 17-12-2020
- Federal government providing up to $1.3 billion for Surrey-Langley SkyTrain extension, ctvnews.ca, retrieved 07-09-2021