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)
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
Port Moody Central Station
Coquitlam Central Station
Douglas College Station
Written by Kenneth Chan, a Columnist at Vancity Buzz. Follow me on Twitter: @kjmagine
Featured image credit: Evergreen Line