SkyTrain Evergreen Line moving full forward for 2016 arrival

Screen shot 2012-10-05 at 4.24.02 AM

SNC-Lavalin has been selected as the contractor to build the SkyTrain Evergreen Line in the northeast sector of Metro Vancouver. With the contractor selected, full construction is expected to begin later this fall for a summer 2016 completion.

Once in service, the 11-km SkyTrain Evergreen Line and its seven stations will bring rapid transit to residents of Coquitlam and Port Moody. SNC-Lavalin is a Canadian engineering giant headquartered in Montreal and has played a major role in the past in delivering major infrastructural projects in British Columbia. This includes the Sea-to-Sky Highway improvements, the new William R. Bennett Bridge across the Okanagan Lake, and all three existing SkyTrain lines including the recently built Canada Line.

SkyTrain Evergreen Line route map (credit: Evergreen Line)

SkyTrain Evergreen Line route map


The $1.4-billion Evergreen Line will largely run on an elevated and ground-level guideway, and will also include a short 2-km bored tunnel. Italian-tunnel boring company SELI is part of the SNC-Lavalin led consortium and will be responsible for completing the bored tunnel portion.

SELI was also responsible for the two bored tunnels for the Canada Line from Olympic Village Station to Waterfront Station. The Evergreen Line project will include a vehicle storage and light maintenance facility (short of a full-fledged operations and maintenance centre like the Expo Line’s Edmonds yard and the Canada Line’s Bridgeport yard).

The new system will be fully integrated into the main SkyTrain network with the Expo and Millennium Lines. The Evergreen Line will begin at the existing VCC-Clarke Station in Vancouver before making a track switch at Lougheed Town Centre Station onto the newly built Evergreen Line track.

Commuters will be able to enjoy a quick and frequent one-train ride from the Millennium Line’s existing VCC-Clarke Station to the new Evergreen Line terminus at Douglas College Station (similar to the alternating train destination systems of the Canada Line, between YVR and Richmond terminuses, and the Expo/Millennium Line, between King George and VCC-Clarke terminuses).

There will also be a connection to the West Coast Express commuter rail at the new Port Moody Central Station nexus. The travel time from Lougheed Town Centre Station to the new Douglas College Station terminus is less than 15-minutes. Trains will run frequently, every 3-minutes during peak and mid-day service hours.

Unlike the Canada Line, and like the Expo and Millennium Lines, Translink will operate the Evergreen Line once completed. Translink will also be more involved in the design of the Evergreen Line, whereas the Canada Line was largely designed by the private sector (SNC-Lavalin) due to the nature of the public-private construction and maintenance agreement.

The Evergreen Line platforms are the same length as the Expo and Millennium Lines, at 80-metres in length they are twice the length of the Canada Line’s short platforms. With Translink’s direct involvement, rather than a public-private partnership, more attention has been given to the design of the system to ensure that it can fulfill the capacity demands of the future.

However, safe and modest station architectural designs will remain given the high costs of constructing architecturally-unique stations like those of the Millennium Line. The modestly designed elevated stations of the Canada Line in Richmond, half the length of the proposed Evergreen Line stations, cost between $25 to 30-million to construct per station.

By 2021, ridership on the Evergreen Line is anticipated to reach 70,000 per day. This is not a difficult figure to believe: as the SkyTrain system grows (like the road system), more destinations are connected (via transit transfers) making the entire train and bus system more useable and accessible for the region’s commuters.

With every additional SkyTrain line, ridership growth system-wide is increasingly geometric, not arithmetic. When the Canada Line opened in 2009, it saw an average of 90,000 riders per day during its first year of service. Today, the Canada Line’s ridership has highly exceeded growth estimates with nearly 135,000 riders per day. Ridership on the 1986-built Expo Line and 2001-built Millennium Line is also rapidly growing with 210,000 and 90,000 riders per day.

One point of concern on the implementation of the Evergreen Line is its potential adverse impact on West Broadway bus transit services with new additional ridership disembarking at Commercial-Broadway Station from the Evergreen/Millennium Lines. There is, indeed, such a thing as too much of a good thing – a victim of its own success.

The already inundated 99 B-Line, serving the Broadway corridor to UBC, sees an average of 60,000 riders per day and will likely be even more overwhelmed once the Evergreen Line goes into service. It will only make the case for a Evergreen/Millennium Line extension along West Broadway to UBC even stronger even though construction on such an extension is likely still a decade away despite exceedingly high demand today for SkyTrain along the Broadway corridor.

Once complete, commuters will be able to travel from UBC to Douglas College/Coquitlam Centre in less than 1 hour; a Broadway extension of SkyTrain to UBC will be the real game changing public transit addition in the region, an instant major ridership success is guaranteed.

What do you think of the Evergreen Line station designs? Let us know by commenting below.

Renderings of SkyTrain Evergreen Line station designs (credit: Evergreen Line): 


Lougheed Town Centre Station

Lougheed Station SkyTrain Evergreen Line


Burquitlam Station

Burquitlam Station SkyTrain Evergreen Line

Burquitlam Station Platform SkyTrain Evergreen Line


Port Moody Central Station


Ioco Station


Coquitlam Central Station


Lincoln Station


Douglas College Station



Written by Kenneth Chan, a Columnist at Vancity Buzz. Follow me on Twitter: @kjmagine

Featured image credit: Evergreen Line


About the author

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Kenneth Chan is Vancity Buzz's Deputy Editor and Social Media Manager. He covers stories pertaining to local architecture, urban issues, business, retail, economic development, infrastructure, politics or anything that makes a difference in the lives of Vancouverites. Kenneth is also a Co-Founder of New Year's Eve Vancouver. Connect with him at kenneth[at]

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  • schiu

    Port Coquitlam needs some stations.

  • Sashapolishchuk

    Why are we not building the UBC- Broadway line first?!??!!!!  There are already 60,000 a day on the 99 B -Line, throw in the 25, 33, 49, 84, and 41 busses to UBC and we are definitely at 75,000 a day, at the very least! The Evergreen Line is anticipating 70,000, hopefully, by 2021!! Why are not taking care of the current problem to UBC, but actually spending $1.4 billion and making it worse!!! This makes noooooo sense!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Chris_Mackenzie

    You’re absolutely right.  I’m pretty sure you the broadway line would actually get more than 100,000 right off the bat.  In comparison, the 97 b line that the evergreen line replaces carries only 6,000 people a day on conventional non-articulated buses (source:Wikipedia).  I’m also certain that the fact there Vancouver resisted building highways anywhere within the city makes transit more competitive as well. 

    Google “The road less travelled: TransLink’s improbable journey from 1999 to 2008″ for a read on the history of Translink and you’ll soon learn that this was a completely political decision by the BC Provincial Government.  The Provincial government promised Coquitlam they would get the evergreen line as a part of the millenum line but funding constraints put that on hold.  When Translink formed, they knew that other projects such as the Canada line would have much higher ridership and pursued that, putting Evergreen on hold again.  I think the Evergreen line won’t be any more successful than the Millenum line- which has acceptable but not amazing ridership, as the roads and highways parallel to it are quite free flowing. 

  • John E

    One of the main reasons that the Broadway corridor will not be built anytime soon is the simple fact that the area is not growing. Put simple, there’s really no new housing going into that area anymore. You need to put transit where people are moving to and where the housing is growing, and whether you like it or not, that is occurring in the ‘burbs out towards the Valley. Yes, UBC is seeing growth, but so too is SFU, VCC and other college/Universities.  Heavy ridership on the Broadway corridor is only in the morning and in the evening, so it wouldn’t make financial sense to build it there if you are only getting limited ridership.

    Another reason is the lessons that Translink and the gov’t learned with the Canada Line and Cambie street. Those still hurt. Basically, the businesses along Broadway will simply not put up with the construction.this time around. Translink listened and do not want to go through that again.

    Yet another reason for those old enough to remember is this link was actually supposed to be built after the original Expo line was completed – NOT the Surrey connection, NOT the Millennium Line, NOT the Canada Line, but the Coquitlam connections. This has been on the books since way back in 1985 – not 1999.

    And, ultimately, mayor Moonbeam wants bike lanes over rapid transit.

  • Dougee

    Because west enders don’t want their pretty gardens dug up.

  • Joe A

    I hope the area around burquitlam station is open to a lot of development. That whole square should be redeveloped congruently with the station for a Marine Gateway-type results

  • Paul Schellenberg

    Glad that the Evergreen Line is finally going ahead after all these years of laughable delay. Looking forward to seeing all the innovatively designed stations…not. One would think that paying $25-30 million per station would result with some cool places designed by a mixture of local, national and international architects but no, design by functionary triumphs again (like that perennially appreciated Canada Line with its internationally reputable designs for ‘very boring’.) Perhaps an audit needs to be performed as some devleoper’s pockets may be getting lined while we get fleeced.

    I guess I’m really living in LaLaLand if I really think that some day soon the Provincial, Federal and Metro Vancouver city governments will come up with the needed money to immediately develop a Broadway-UBC Line and perhaps even a line extension from Waterfront through Gastown down to the PNE, combined with a forward looking high density rezoning plan. Something that would enable us to be prepared for the 1 million plus people moving to the city. The Granville Island- Science World-Gastown-Stanley Park tram idea could be a corporate sponsored winner, too.

    Canada is a fantastic place and there is no need for our major cities to be consistently known internationally for overpriced housing with very poor public transit infrastructure. We might win for global reputation in Vancouver. Why not for effective planning & innovative services too? Instead of reactive planning, lets try proactive action. Let the commuters decide.

  • Matt Foulger

    John E hits the nail on the head: “You need to put transit where people are moving to and where the housing is growing, and whether you like it or not, that is occurring in the ‘burbs out towards the Valley.”

    We have to build transit where population growth is occurring, to enable transit-oriented (I call it human-oriented) development. This is the reason that building the new Port Mann bridge without equal investment in transit south of the Fraser is a bad idea. We’re locking the future residents of Surrey into car dependency and it the costs of retrofitting that area in the future will be high, perhaps prohibitively so.

    Doug E’s comment, “Because west enders don’t want their pretty gardens dug up,” is really not the reason we’re building the Evergreen Line first (plus he should look at a map of where the west end is). The Evergreen line was supposed to be built decades ago, and was again promised to be built when Vancouver got the Canada Line. It’s long overdue. If we had any leadership at the federal level we would be able to build the UBC line at the same time. Both projects make a ton of economic sense and would make our region more robust and sustainable.

  • Guest Andy

    4 years…everything is way too slow to develop here, nothing ever gets built until like 5 years of planning to START

  • Mainlander

    West Enders? The West Side and the West End are 2 separate areas of Vancouver. The West End of Vancouver is on the downtown peninsula neighbouring Stanley Park and the areas of Yaletown, Coal Harbour and the downtown financial and central business districts. The West Side denotes the western half of the non-downtown part of Vancouver city to the south.

  • MB

    @ Matt F.:

    We have to build transit where population growth is occurring, to enable transit-oriented (I call it human-oriented) development.

    You’re absolutely right, Matt.

    But in Vancouver’s Broadway corridor that growth occurred decades ago, and it just keeps going.  John E makes a patently false statement that Broadway has stopped growing.  He obviously missed the recent Rize development controversy – only the latest tower slated for Broadway.  Nowhere in Western Canada has dense urban growth been greater than in Vancouver.  Central Broadway is the second most dense precinct outside of downtown.  Show us any other that has not just fast-growing residential density, but two of the province’s largest employers after the provincial government itself: UBC and VGH.

    Have a look at Erick Villagomez’s Vancouver density map.  The unique 3-D graph extrapolation it says it all.  Even deep West 10th Ave rings in at 4.5 to 18.0 dwelling units per acre.

    As a veteran UBC commuter in the 80s I thought that a subway was then 20 years overdue.  Back then they didn’t even have the B-Line, which has now tapped out at 100,000+ riders a day.
    @ John E:
    Another reason is the lessons that Translink and the gov’t learned with the Canada Line and Cambie street. Those still hurt. Basically, the businesses along Broadway will simply not put up with the construction.this time around. Translink listened and do not want to go through that again.

    Is that so?  Then why is the Rail Rapid Transit option, one of several promoted by TransLink inn 2010, still the favoured option by respondents?
    One engineer said that the Canada Line cut-and-cover tunneling represents the “dark ages of engineering.”  Twin bored tunnels and covered station excavation pits, along with the compensation package that is standard in most other jurisdictions will assuage much of this concern.  The Canada Line construction was a fiasco, but the resulting service is extremely popular and efficient, so much so that it has already exceeded its original ridership projections.
    The benefit of investing up front in what greater cities take for granted (eg. subways in the core, light rail at the edges, frequent service …) is a tried and true way to rebuild our cities in the age of climate change and expensive liquid fuels.  Moreover, a great disservice is practiced when one region is promoted at the expense of another when funding transit.  I would not eliminate a Broadway subway OR light rail in the suburbs OR trolleys everywhere OR commuter and intercity regional rail OR the the long-term economic stimulus they bring (unlike freeways).
    We need it all.

  • MB

    Is that so?  Then why is the Rail Rapid Transit option, one of several promoted for the Broadway corridor by TransLink inn 2010, still the favoured option by respondents?

  • A K

    Vancouver infrastructure is more favourable to alternatives to driving or transit.
    In Surrey, if you aren’t taking transit, you’re probably driving.
    In Vancouver, you can walk, bike, transit, or drive.

  • Guest

    I hope those parking islands are just for the renders and don’t happen in reality. Almost all of the stations seem to be completely isolated; they should be in the center of neighbourhoods, not highways (like the Ioco Station). There will most likely be a lot of development surrounding them during construction and afterward, but hopefully that happens quickly. Portland already demonstrated the limits of “park and ride’ style transit and having rail stations surrounded by parking.

    So glad this is happening, though. Adding to the Skytrain network has to be one of the most rewarding spending decisions local governments can make. It will shape the entire region just as New York was shaped by the development of their underground.

  • Bhupinder Singh

    Generally there has been less disruption to businesses with this line than there was a few years ago when the Skytrain line went up Cambie (Which was a disaster). However, the last bit where the Skytrain guideway is being built over the White Spot restaurant building is the most stupid idea I have ever seen. There were many alternatives to go around this building. Instead, some moron decided to go over this building, shut the restaurant down for weeks and put a hundred or so people out of work for the duration. The person or persons who in the Skytrain design committee decided this, should be fired from their jobs.

  • Bhupinder Singh

    Obviously, going to university hasn’t helped your spelling skills. Buses not busses is the proper spelling. There is no place in the English language where you can put more than one exclamation mark at the end of a sentence. The proper spelling of the word no is with one “o” and not six. Sashapolishchuk, you are really illiterate!