I just got back from Vancouver! I was so excited to discover another big city (besides Toronto). It’s been years since I visited Philadelphia, which was my last not-Toronto big city exploration, so I was due.
My first impression of Vancouver came on the SkyTrain, which I took straight out of the airport to my destination.
I was a bit surprised to see that not only were there no fare collectors (you buy a single ticket from a machine and can pay with debit or credit, or reload a card), but there are NO DRIVERS. Their entire fleet of SkyTrains – three lines with a total of 51 stations – is automated and completely computerized ! ! ! At first I was a little unsure of this strange futuristic robot train, but after a couple rides, I started not to miss those oft-surly station collectors.
It is also worth mentioning that the SkyTrain really does operate in the SKY. The tracks are above the city. It is pretty cool to see that sort of a view on your way around, instead of staring at the floor or trying to avoid eye contact with your fellow passengers on the TTC, who may be grumpy because they have just been treated rudely by an oft-surly station collector.
The third very cool thing about the SkyTrain is that it goes BETWEEN CITIES. You can get from Vancouver to Surrey or Burnaby or Richmond on the train. You pay per zone, so the further you go, the more you pay. The cost is reasonable. The price for one zone is $2.75. To go from Vancouver to Surrey (roughly equivalent to going from Toronto to Mississauga) would be about $5.00.
Being partial to streetcars, I would have to say that the bad thing about the transit system in Vancouver is that there are NONE. They had streetcars from the 1890s until the late 1950s, when all the streetcar lines were replaced by buses that run on electric lines (like modern-day streetcars do). However, the old section of Vancouver (called Gastown) still runs trolley buses, but they are mostly for tourists.
I did take some photos out of the SkyTrain windows, but Vancouver is so grey and cloudy at this time of year that they didn’t turn out very well.
Next time I will post about my visit to Lynn Canyon (which, incidentally, you can get to by using the city buses in Vancouver!)
SkyTrain entering station: By Wakasui – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=50759356
TTC fare collector: http://humbernews.ca/ttc-introduces-customer-service-system-amidst-presto-changeover/
SkyTrain track view: https://www.thestar.com/content/dam/thestar/news/city_hall/2014/02/11/current_transit_mishmash_is_worse_than_any_of_the_options_james/skytrain.jpg
SkyTrain system map: http://tripplanning.translink.ca/hiwire?.a=iScheduleLookupSearch&LineName=999&LineAbbr=999
Trolley bus: http://hummingbird604.com/2011/10/23/haunted-vancouver-trolley-tours/