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Canada Line

Canada Line
Canada Line SkyTrain pulling into Bridgeport Station
Type Light Metro Rapid Transit
System SkyTrain
Termini Waterfront
YVR–Airport & Richmond–Brighouse
Stations 16
Daily ridership 136,259 (June 2011)[1]
Website .comthecanadaline
Opened August 17, 2009
Owner TransLink, IntransitBC
Operator(s) ProTrans BC
Rolling stock Rotem EMU
Line length 19.2 km (11.9 mi)
No. of tracks 2
Track gauge 1,435 mm (4 ft 8 12 in) standard gauge
Electrification Third rail
Operating speed 80 km/h (50 mph)
Route map

Canada Line is a fully automated rapid transit line in the Metro Vancouver region of British Columbia, Canada. Opened in August 2009, it is the third line in TransLink's SkyTrain metro network, servicing Vancouver, Richmond, and the Vancouver International Airport. It is coloured turquoise on route maps.

The Canada Line comprises 19.2 kilometres (11.9 mi) of track; the main line goes from Vancouver to Richmond, while a 4 km (2.5 mi) spur line from Bridgeport Station connects to the airport.[2] Originally scheduled to open on November 30, 2009, it opened fifteen weeks ahead of schedule, well in advance of the 2010 Winter Olympics the following February.[3]

The Canada Line was anticipated to see 100,000 boardings per day in 2013 and 142,000 boardings per day by 2021, but it has consistently exceeded early targets.[4] Ridership has grown steadily since opening day, with average ridership of 83,000 per day in September 2009,[5] 105,000 per day in March 2010,[6] and over 136,000 passengers per weekday in June 2011.[7] During the 17 days of the 2010 Winter Olympics, the line carried an average of 228,190 passengers per day.[8]

Governance of the project was through Canada Line Rapid Transit Inc. (CLCO), formerly RAV Project Management Ltd. (RAVCO, a reflection of the original "Richmond-Airport-Vancouver" name).[9] The line was built by SNC-Lavalin, and InTransitBC will manage the line for 35 years under a contract with TransLink. The Canada Line is operationally independent from British Columbia Rapid Transit Company, which operates SkyTrain's Expo and Millennium lines,[10] but is considered a part of the SkyTrain network. Like the other two SkyTrain lines in Metro Vancouver, it is also light metro rapid transit, using fully automated trains on grade-separated guideways.[11]


  • Route 1
  • Stations 2
    • Vancouver section 2.1
    • Richmond section 2.2
    • Airport section 2.3
    • Post 2010 2.4
    • Travel times between stations 2.5
  • Transit connections 3
  • Technology 4
    • Canada Line Hyundai Rotem specifications 4.1
  • Name of the line 5
  • Canada Line timeline 6
  • Project funding 7
  • Construction 8
  • Controversies 9
    • Public-private partnerships 9.1
    • Ridership projections 9.2
    • Alignment and grade separation 9.3
      • Vancouver 9.3.1
      • Richmond 9.3.2
    • Impact on local businesses 9.4
    • Impact on expansion of other transit options 9.5
    • Regional Growth Strategy 9.6
    • Hiring practices 9.7
  • Incidents 10
  • See also 11
  • References 12
  • External links 13


The Canada Line begins in Downtown Vancouver at Waterfront Station (0.0 km) in a cut-and-cover subway tunnel beneath Granville Street. It quickly transitions into twin bored tunnels, heading southwest beneath Granville Street, then curving southeast to follow Davie Street through Yaletown. The tunnels then dive deeper to pass below False Creek before rising back up to Olympic Village Station (2.7 km). There, the line transitions back to a cut-and-cover tunnel (which is noted by the tunnel changing from a circular to a square shape) heading south under Cambie Street, some portions of which have the two sets of tracks stacked vertically. The line emerges from the ground just south of 64th Avenue, climbing to an elevated guideway.[12]

Canada Line bridge over the Fraser River.

The line continues elevated across the North Arm Bridge over the North Arm of the Fraser River, leaving Vancouver and entering Richmond. Just beyond Bridgeport Station (11.1 km), the line splits, with the Richmond branch heading south on elevated tracks along No. 3 Road and terminating at Richmond–Brighouse Station (14.5 km). The airport branch turns west and crosses the Middle Arm Bridge over the Middle Arm of the Fraser River, connecting to stations on Sea Island and terminating at YVR–Airport Station (15.0 km). Portions of the airport branch are at grade in order to accommodate a future elevated taxiway for aircraft over the line. Both branches narrow to a single track as they approach their respective terminus stations. Just before Bridgeport Station is the OMC (Operations and Maintenance Centre) facility, which houses the trains when not in use.


Real-time information is provided on every station platform.

Station construction was designed as a two-stage process. Sixteen original stations opened at the same time as the line itself. Three additional stations are planned for, and may be built in the future. The stations are listed below.

Each Canada Line station is slightly different in appearance, designed to blend in with the surrounding neighbourhood. For example, Langara – 49th Avenue Station is designed to fit into the area's low-density residential neighbourhood.

The five busiest stations have platforms 50 metres long, while the rest of the stations have 40-metre platforms that can be easily extended to 50 metres. The YVR terminus and the Richmond-Brighouse terminus are single-tracked, whereas the Waterfront Station terminus is double-tracked. The double tracking is necessary to accommodate the 3-minute headways between trains on the Waterfront-Bridgeport portion of the line. King Edward Station is the only station with a stacked configuration, and Broadway – City Hall Station is the only station with a double-height ceiling over the platforms. Vancouver City Centre Station is linked to Pacific Centre Mall and Vancouver Centre Mall, in addition to having street level access. All direct transfers to the Expo and Millennium Lines must be made at Waterfront Station; there is no direct connection from Vancouver City Centre Station to Granville Station. However, it is possible to transfer between those two stations via a short walk through Pacific Centre or Vancouver Centre Mall.

Stations were configured to allow for the future installation of fare gates, and will be receiving fare gates for 2013 as part of full implementation throughout all SkyTrain stations. Every station has an up escalator and an elevator, but only the three terminal stations have down escalators.[13]

Vancouver section

All Vancouver stations are underground except Marine Drive, which is elevated.

Richmond section

Trains outbound to Richmond's commercial centre stop at:

Airport section

Trains outbound from Vancouver to Vancouver International Airport split from the main line after Bridgeport Station, stopping at:

Post 2010

Provisions have been made to allow for the addition of the following stations in the future:

  • 33rd Avenue (Cambie Street at West 33rd Avenue, next to Queen Elizabeth Park)
  • 57th Avenue (Cambie Street at West 57th Avenue)
  • YVR 3 (Sea Island)
  • Capstan Way

A future station at Capstan Way (No. 3 Road and Capstan Way) in Richmond was originally planned, but was cancelled in March 2009. Pinnacle International and Concord Pacific, the developers of the Sun Tech City project, could not fund the $25 million required to build the station. The developers could only offer $15 million up front, but this sum was deemed unacceptable by TransLink and the City of Richmond.[14] Later in May 2012, the city of Richmond made an agreement with TransLink and the developers to fund the project in a special way. The developer will pay a fee about $8000 per unit, the construction will start once the funds are raised.[15] The Richmond Official Community Plan envisions an "Artists District" of medium density, mixed-use development surrounding the future station.

Travel times between stations

The trip from Waterfront to either Richmond–Brighouse or YVR–Airport takes 25 minutes in either direction. During the day, trains run about every 7 minutes on each branch, interleaved to provide service every 3.5 minutes on the combined section between Waterfront and Bridgeport.

Vancouver City Centre 1
Yaletown–Roundhouse 2 3
Olympic Village 2 4 5
Broadway – City Hall 1 3 5 6
King Edward 2 3 5 7 8
Oakridge – 41st Ave 3 5 6 8 10 11
Langara – 49th Ave 2 5 7 8 10 12 13
Marine Drive 3 5 8 10 11 13 15 16
Bridgeport 2 5 7 10 12 13 15 17 18
Aberdeen 3 5 8 10 13 15 16 18 20 21
Lansdowne 2 5 7 10 12 15 17 18 20 22 23
Richmond–Brighouse 2 4 7 9 12 14 17 19 20 22 24 25
Templeton 3 5 8 10 13 15 16 18 20 21
Sea Island Centre 1 4 6 9 11 14 16 17 19 21 22
YVR–Airport 3 4 7 9 12 14 17 19 20 22 24 25

Transit connections

Canada Line (sky blue) as part of the Metro Vancouver transit system in 2014.

Many transit services connect with the Canada Line and form an important part of the service. With the opening of the line, most bus routes in Richmond, as well as connecting services from White Rock, Tsawwassen, and Ladner, doubled their service frequency. Waterfront Station provides connections to the Expo and Millennium Lines, West Coast Express, and SeaBus. Broadway – City Hall provides a connection to 99 B-Line service.

Except for night service, when trains are not running, there is no longer any TransLink bus service to the airport. The Airport Station bus loop was closed on September 7, 2009, a few weeks after the opening of the line. Bus routes that used this loop were discontinued (as in the case of the 424 and the 98 B-Line), short-turned (as in the case of the 100, renamed 100 Marpole Loop), or redirected to Bridgeport Station (as in the case of the 620, C90, and C92).[16]

There are proposals to extend SkyTrain west along Broadway from VCC-Clark Station toward UBC, allowing for a transfer to the Canada Line at Broadway–City Hall Station. As indicated in material presented by the City of Vancouver at public meetings in early 2006, this station was designed with such a future extension in mind. A "knock-out" panel was installed in the concourse that would facilitate construction of a connection between the station and a Broadway-corridor SkyTrain extension toward UBC.

The Canada Line uses the same fare system as the rest of the transit system managed by TransLink, with two exceptions. The YVR AddFare, started in January 2010, is a surcharge that applies for some passengers leaving the airport and travelling beyond Bridgeport Station. Passengers headed away from the airport who are using non-prepaid fares must pay a $5 AddFare on top of the regular fare. Travel between the Sea Island stations is free to everyone. There is no additional fare for passengers travelling toward the airport. Passengers using prepaid fare media (FareCards, FareSavers, or DayPasses) are not required to pay an additional fare when travelling either toward or away from the airport. Prepaid transit passes can be purchased at the 7-Eleven and Pharmasave on the bottom level of the domestic terminal.[17]

Until fare gate installation is complete in 2014, Canada Line operates on a "Fare Paid Zone" system. This means that passengers are required by law to possess a valid fare when they enter the Fare Paid Zone. Fare Paid Zones are clearly marked, and fares can be bought from ticket vending machines prior to entering the Fare Paid Zone. Fare inspections are mostly conducted by the South Coast British Columbia Transportation Authority Police Service. Passengers who fail to pay the fare or do not have a valid fare may be fined $173 and/or removed from the station or train.

Transit Security officers occasionally inspect fares at Canada Line Stations as part of TransLink's fare audit. Transit Security officers mostly focus their efforts on the bus system, bus loops, and SeaBus.

Canada Line attendants are the customer service staff for the Canada Line. They are easily identifiable by their green livery. They provide customer service, troubleshoot certain problems with the trains, observe and report safety issues, and check fares.


A train parked at the Canada Line Operations and Maintenance Centre near Bridgeport Station.

The Canada Line uses a fleet of trains built by Rotem, a division of Hyundai Motor Group. The trains are powered by conventional electric motors, rather than the linear induction motors used by the Expo and Millennium Line's Bombardier ART trains. Canada Line trains are operated by the same SelTrac automated train control system used in the rest of the SkyTrain network.

The selection of Rotem was largely a consequence of the request for proposals process for the public-private partnership, whose terms did not allow Bombardier to consider efficiencies in combining operations or rolling-stock orders for the new line with those for the existing system. This placed all bidders on a level playing field, albeit at the cost of not necessarily picking the most efficient choice for long-term operation. The RFP also required that the system have an ultimate capacity of 15,000 passengers per hour in each direction (leaving the choice of technology and platform length to the proponent) and a maximum travel time between the airport and downtown Vancouver of 24 minutes.[18]

The fleet consists of 20 fully automated two-car articulated trains, for a total of 40 cars. The capacity of the trains is estimated at 334 people per pair of cars (comfortably) or 400 people at crush load. The trains have a top speed of 80 kilometres per hour (50 mph) in normal operation and 90 km/h in catch-up mode. Each married pair of gangway-connected cars is 41 metres long and 3 metres wide, similar in dimensions to Ottawa's O-Train, and longer and wider than the Bombardier ART fleet used on the Expo and Millennium lines. Each train has LED electronic displays on the exterior to indicate the terminus station and on the interior to display the next station and the terminus station, a useful feature considering the line has two branches.

Canada Line Hyundai Rotem specifications

Name of the line

During the planning and public consultation stages, the line was known as the "Richmond-Airport-Vancouver Line", or RAV for short. The name "Canada Line" was officially adopted in 2005 to coincide with the beginning of construction.[22] Some early documents also refer to it as the "Olympic Line",[23] in honour of the 2010 Winter Olympics, continuing the practice by which the Expo and Millennium lines were named after significant events occurring at the time of construction. This name was subsequently adopted for the demonstration modern streetcar service that operated along the Downtown Historic Railway for a two-month period centred on the Olympics.[24]

Canada Line timeline

  • Between 1990 and 1992, BC Transit and N.D. Lea consultants studied intermediate-capacity transit system options in the Vancouver–Richmond corridor.[25]
  • From September 1991 through August 1993, the TRANSPORT 2021 Steering Committee carried out an extensive program of research and public consultation to create "A Long Range Transportation Plan for Greater Vancouver". Under Project Director M. L. (Martin Crilly), a comprehensive transportation investment and financing strategy was envisioned for the region. Until today all existing and proposed road and transit investments have been put forth in this plan. The plan calls for the provision of an intermediate-capacity transit system from Richmond to Vancouver's central business district.[26]
  • In fall of 1994, N.D. Lea and Delcan consultants carried out studies examining technologies, operating feasibility, ridership, capital and operating costs, traffic impacts, and development potential in three corridors, including the Richmond–Vancouver corridor. These studies were prepared as input into BC Transit's 10-Year Development Plan. They did not include a spur line to the Vancouver International Airport.[27]
  • In 1995, BC Transit (a crown corporation responsible for public transit) expressed a desire to create a special Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) or Automated Rapid Transit (ART) service connecting the cities of Richmond and Vancouver and the Vancouver International Airport in one of the transit improvement plans.
    • Underground rights-of-way were reserved at the Concord Pacific development close to the Cambie bridge.
  • From mid-1997 to mid-1998 a number of BRT routes for Vancouver-airport/Richmond were evaluated, and the preferred route and station locations were selected.[28]
  • June 24, 1998, the minister in charge of BC Transit, Joy McPhail, announced plans to build a Vancouver–Richmond ALRT: "The new line would link Richmond city centre, the airport and Downtown Vancouver—probably running north-south through Vancouver along the Cambie Street corridor." "MacPhail said the province wants to accelerate the construction of rapid transit to Richmond as part of a bid to bring the 2010 Winter Olympics to the Lower Mainland."[29]
  • In 1999, detailed design of the Vancouver-Airport/Richmond BRT was carried out.
  • On April 1, 1999, The Greater Vancouver Transportation Authority (TransLink) was created under the direction of CEO Ken Dobell, previously city manager for the City of Vancouver.
  • In April 2000, TransLink adopted its Strategic Transportation Plan 2000–2005. The plan noted that future transit lines have equal priority, and recommended the planning and design of a Richmond-Airport-Vancouver (RAV) rapid transit line.
  • May 2000 saw the approval of the RAV study, while construction had begun on the BRT service between Richmond Centre, Airport Station, and downtown Vancouver.
  • In 2000, a Transport Canada report on rail access to the airport estimated it would cost $1.3 billion for a SkyTrain expansion using the Cambie route and $738 million for a light rail system along the Arbutus corridor.[30]
  • In December 2000, TransLink received the report on public-private partnerships for road and transportation infrastructure, the model that would be used to finance, construct, and operate the new Canada Line.
  • On April 1, 2001, bus operators and other CMBC employees went on strike, delaying full implementation of the Vancouver-Airport-Richmond BRT by four months.
  • That same month, TransLink reaffirmed a Vancouver–Richmond line including a connection to the airport, and approved a recommendation by the TransLink CEO that, based on greater benefits from a private-sector perspective and community concerns, at-grade rail transit be excluded from further analysis and that analysis in Vancouver be restricted to underground options.
  • On August 1, 2001, the 98 B-Line BRT service began service in the corridor, ultimately carrying over 20,000 passengers per day, while plans were already under way for an ART service to replace it. This proposed service was projected to carry over 100,000 passengers per day.
  • On December 10, 2001, the federal government under Jean Chrétien announced over $2.0 billion in funding for large infrastructure projects; the Canada Strategic Infrastructure Fund established by this budget would fund the federal government's contribution to the Canada Line. The government stipulated that the fund promote private-public partnerships where appropriate.[31]
  • In April 2002, work was started on the third phase, project definition. This ten-month task consisted of a technical evaluation to determine if it was possible to build the line by 2010.
  • In 2003, ten companies or consortia submitted expressions of interest in the project.
  • In December 2003, this was shortlisted to the following three consortia, which were given a request for proposal:
  • On April 16, 2004, the federal government under Prime Minister Paul Martin increased its funding promise from $300 million to $450 million.[32][33]
  • On June 10, 2004, the provincial government restated its commitment to the Canada Line, increasing funding from $300 to $370 million, and earmarked $170 million for the Evergreen Line.[34][35]
  • On June 30, 2004, after twice voting to cancel the project, the TransLink Board approved the RAV line but maintained the right to cancel the project if none of the bids met the approved budget of $1.35 billion.
  • On November 19, 2004, RAVCO recommended that the SNC-Lavalin/Serco (now known as InTransitBC) proposal for a fully automated, grade-separated system be accepted. This "best and final offer" bid was $343 million over the approved budget. The project was, however, brought within the funding allowance through various cost-trimming measures, including design changes, the contractor agreeing to lower its bid, and the province contributing another $65 million.
  • On December 1, 2004, the TransLink board gave final approval for the project.
  • On July 29, 2005, the final contract to design, build, and operate the RAV Line was signed by InTransitBC and TransLink. Serco was no longer a partner to InTransitBC, and two pension funds were brought into the partnership.
  • In October 2005, the utilities relocation and road work was started.
  • On November 25, 2005, the design of the new trains was unveiled, and Hyundai Rotem was announced as the supplier of the trains. It was announced that the new line would be called the Canada Line as a funding condition from the federal government.[36]
  • The line opened at 1 p.m. local time on August 17, 2009, on budget and three and a half months ahead of schedule, and six months ahead of the 2010 Winter Olympics held in Vancouver. It began normal revenue service on the following day.
  • On September 30, 2009, it was announced that the Canada Line had seen an average of 82,500 passengers per day since opening, putting it well on track to reach its ridership target of 100,000 per day within two years.[5]
  • On December 28, 2009, it was revealed that the average daily ridership (including weekends) has grown to 93,000 and has occasionally exceeded 100,000, three years ahead of expectations.[37]
  • On February 5, 2010, ridership reached a (then) record of 135,000 during a campaign to encourage residents to use transit prior to the Olympics.[38] Further single-day records included 157,000 on February 11, 2010,[39] and 210,000 on February 15, 2010, with all 20 trains running.[40]
  • Overall, the 2010 Winter Olympics saw the Canada Line's ridership increase by 118 percent to an average of 228,190 per day for 17 days, with a single-day record of 287,400 on February 19, 2010. Its regular non-Olympic ridership was stated as being 104,674 per weekday.[8]
  • In February 2011, Translink revealed that the average daily ridership of the Canada Line had grown to 110,000 per day.[41]

Project funding

The Canada Line was built as a public-private partnership. Funding was provided by both government agencies and a private partner, the proponent. As of March 2009, the entire project was expected to cost $2.054 billion. The premier of BC stated that the project was on budget and ahead of schedule.[42] When approved in December 2004, the cost was given as $1.76 billion.[43]

The public contributions to the budget come from the following sources:

These sums are all in 2006 dollars, except for the government of Canada's contribution, which will be paid out when constructed, and is estimated to be equivalent of $419 million 2003 dollars.[45]

The private partner was expected to contribute $200 million, as well as being responsible for any construction cost overruns.[46] As of November 7, 2009, InTransitBC has invested $750 million. InTransitBC is a joint venture company owned by SNC-Lavalin, the Investment Management Corporation of BC (bcIMC), and the Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec.[47][48]

The BC government initially committed $370 million, but when the bid came in over budget, it contributed an extra $65 million. TransLink also put in extra money by committing money from the sale of the Sexsmith Park and Ride in Richmond and from the introduction of a special fare in the Airport Zone.[43]

In November 2004, bid costs were reduced by postponing the construction of a walkway between Waterfront Station and the cruise ship terminal, removing Westminster Station, and moving Richmond Center Station and the end of the line several hundred metres north. TransLink would further pay for the cost of reinstallation of the trolley wires along Cambie. As a way to further reduce the best and final offer, RAVCO no longer required that the proponent provide for 59 ticket vending machines and 38 ticket validating machines or for a police unit to operate on the RAV line. RAVCO also shifted responsibility for moving trolley wires from SNC-Lavalin to TransLink.[49] Costs were also decreased due to decisions to single-track sections on the Richmond and airport branches. The Richmond branch was single-tracked from Ackroyd Road onward in large part due to Richmond's city council pressuring for the visual profile of the overhead line to be reduced for aesthetic reasons.

On July 11, 2006, a decision was made to relocate Broadway station half a block north at a cost of $3 million to allow for better integration of the station with Broadway and a new development in the area. The funding was provided as follows: one third from the City of Vancouver, one third from TransLink, and one third from surplus funding available to CLCO.[50]

In February 2007, TransLink approved the addition of a pedestrian and bicycle path to the Canada Line Bridge and agreed not to postpone the construction of a station at 2nd Avenue (Olympic Village Station), but instead build it to be ready when the line opens. The $10 million cost of the bridge bike path was paid for by TransLink and not considered part of the cost of the Canada Line. The Olympic Village Station cost an additional $29 million.[51]

RAVCO was set up by the agencies funding the transit line to oversee project design, procurement, construction, and implementation. This TransLink subsidiary, later renamed Canada Line Rapid Transit Inc (CLCO), made distributions to the builder as work progressed.

The table below lists the year-by-year contributions (in millions of dollars) made by various governments on a year-by-year basis up to December 31, 2008.[52][53] Contributions by TransLink are total disbursements minus contributions from the City of Vancouver, the government of British Columbia, and the government of Canada. Calculations show that TransLink has contributed $271 million to date. It has committed an additional $52 million in its 2009 budget.

Year Vancouver BC government Canadian government Total disbursements through TransLink Airport disbursements
2008 $7.1 $59.6 $93.4 $163.2 $46.8
2007 $14.9 $58.4 $167.4 $336.7 $94.6
2006 $6.9 $17.2 $125.6 $322.5 $108.4
2005 $1.1 $117.1 $108.9 $209.4 $15.7

The private sector will operate the line for 35 years in return for a share of its operating revenue.

In early 2006, TransLink decided not to install turnstiles at Canada Line stations, but stations would be designed to accommodate controlled access to allow TransLink to install them for less cost if it wished to do so in the future.[54] On April 9, 2009, TransLink, the provincial government, and the government of Canada announced joint funding of $100 million to introduce turnstiles at all 49 SkyTrain stations.[55] While a large portion of this funding will be used on the Expo and Millennium Lines, a portion will be used on the Canada Line stations. The federal government is contributing $30 million and the province is adding $40 million toward fare gates, or controlled access gates.


Construction began in October 2005 and was completed in August 2009.

The line comprises the following construction elements:

Tunnel 9080 m
Elevated 7349 m
Bridge 614 m
At-Grade 1385 m

In addition to the 18.4 kilometres of track above, there is about 500 metres of track in the OMC.


Opponents have claimed that the approval process was undemocratic and dishonest. They say that the projected ridership figures were grossly inflated;[56] if actual ridership levels are less than projection, taxpayers and transit passengers may have to cover the shortfall in revenue. Opponents also argue that the official claim that the project had nothing to do with Vancouver's bid to host the 2010 Winter Olympics was not credible.[57]

Public-private partnerships

Opponents of the RAV line's public-private partnership (P3) believe it was politically motivated and that it will cost more money because of the private involvement. The private involvement has, however, allowed for construction costs to be known and fixed up front. After raising its contribution to $435 million, the BC minister of transport and premier reaffirmed that this was the final contribution and that any cost overruns would be the responsibility of the proponent.[58] The Canadian Union of Public Employees opposed the use of a P3 to design, build, and operate the Canada Line. The P3 process did not allow precise plans to be developed with public consultation, but limited discussion to certain abstract parameters, while leaving actual design details to the private partner.

Ridership projections

Before the building of the line, TransLink had projected that it would require a 100,000 passenger/day average to reach the "break even point". They also projected that it would take about three years for capacity to reach this point and that TransLink would be responsible for the loss. However, the Canada Line reached its projected ridership goal in late 2010, three years early.[59]

Alignment and grade separation


Although the latest proposal for rapid transit did not include an option for rapid transit down the Arbutus corridor along the abandoned CPR right of way, Vancouver council reopened debate on this issue. Given that the rail right of way is currently zoned for transit use with space available for transit lines, running the line down the Arbutus corridor may have been more cost-effective than tunneling under Cambie. The planners and RAVCO, however, countered that the Arbutus corridor does not have the major concentration of transit destinations and origins that exist along the Cambie Street corridor, such as Vancouver City Hall, Vancouver General Hospital, Oakridge Centre, and Langara College, which are necessary to provide the ridership required for this project to be successful. Also the Arbutus corridor is longer than the Cambie corridor and would cause longer travel times. The Cambie corridor further had greater potential for future ridership growth.[60]

The Project Definition Report further specified that any service had be able to travel from Waterfront Station in downtown Vancouver to the airport in 25 minutes or less. At-grade transit, either along Cambie or the Arbutus corridor, was ruled out as a result. The reason or origin for this exact requirement was not specified, although travel times were considered an important factor in attracting new riders and in retaining existing riders, who were now required to make an extra transfer relative to the existing bus service.

All partner contributions were made upon the specifications set in the Project Definition Report. Any "significant change" would allow each partner to reconsider its respective contribution. As the Arbutus corridor proposal could not meet the specifications, this could put participation of funding partners in jeopardy.

Residents along Cambie Boulevard created the Cambie Boulevard Heritage Society in 1994, which opposed any alteration to a wide green center median that is currently a grassy area with various species of trees, including cherry trees donated by the City of Yokohama on occasion of the 1967 Canadian Centennial. The residents had already been mobilized in 1989 in response to the possibility of elevated rail along Cambie Boulevard.[61] In effect the residents were opposed to surface, trench, or elevated rail along much of Cambie Street. Even cut-and-cover construction raised concerns over construction impacts and temporary traffic diversions. Cost and ridership risks were also concerns to property tax–paying residents. Advertisements asked residents to join "to prevent Vancouver's worst traffic nightmare and from burdening ourselves and our children with unnecessary tax risks for years to come". The society suggested that the line instead be constructed along Arbutus, where its impact and cost would be minimal.[62] Despite the society's concerns, one of the final two proposals for the Canada Line in 2004 involved a trench in the center of Cambie Street from 49th to 64th Avenues.

On June 18, 2004, the TransLink Board voted 6–6 to oppose sending the project to the "best and final offer" stage. Opponents of the project favoured a proposal to build a line along the Cambie corridor involving a minimal amount of tunneling, at a saving of about $300 million over the previously fully grade-separated proposal. The province responded to the suggestion by withdrawing funding until after the 2010 Olympics; Minister of Transport Kevin Falcon said that such a change of scope could no longer be accommodated in the time left before 2010. Mayors and councillors sitting on the TransLink Board, however, could not come to an agreement on this alternate plan of action.[63] The impasse created a stir in the business community, which joined together and called for the province to take over control of the project. "The Coalition FOR a Lower Mainland Rapid Transit Solution" in a newspaper ad called on the premier to "please rescue our rapid transit". The Vancouver Board of Trade, the Council of Tourism Associations, and Tourism Vancouver led the call on the premier.[64] While the board ultimately voted to proceed, the incident had lasting repercussions for TransLink.


When the results of the bidding process indicated that an elevated option in Richmond was the winning bid, Richmond council engaged in some last-minute opposition to the RAV line and refused to give RAVCO the green light.

Objections to the elevated line included its visual impact and the impact and cost of any extensions into Richmond. The line would have varied impact on businesses along No. 3 Road.

It was said that an at-grade option would cost an extra $90 million due to the need to purchase cars that could accommodate drivers. In order to meet travel-time criteria, it was also argued that several intersections would have to be closed. It was also said that an at-grade option would require a large wall to protect the track along No. 3 Road.

In November 2004, a survey of 11,750 people was conducted by RAVCO to determine if people in Richmond supported an elevated or at-grade service in Richmond. 58 percent of the respondents favoured an elevated option.[65]

Closure and dismantling of 98 B-Line busway on No. 3 Road at Capstan Way to make way for Canada Line, April 2006

Even after the survey, however, another option was brought forward. On November 22, 2004, Richmond council considered whether an elevated guideway along No. 3 Road in Richmond was appropriate. If an at-grade service was not feasible, council had instructed staff to look into the possibility of relocating the elevated guideway further west, along Minoru Boulevard. In response, residents along Minoru Boulevard presented a petition containing 666 signatures opposing the Minoru alignment. In the petition they "indicated that if Translink and RAVCO were not prepared to construct an at-grade system on No. 3 Road, then the project should be abandoned in favour of bus service on No. 3 Road."[66]

When further surveys and public consultation conducted by city staff in December indicated that residents did not support the realignment along Minoru Boulevard, council was left to either turn down the development or support the best and final offer. They chose to go ahead with the project. As a final compromise, part of the elevated track in Richmond was single-tracked to reduce visual impact.

Impact on local businesses

One side of the street was cut off from traffic and parking was affected.
The "business is open" logo.

For the entire consultation process, it was assumed that any underground construction along the Cambie corridor would be by bored tunnel. It was only upon the publication of the winning bid that it became apparent that the portion of the line from 64th to 2nd Avenues would be constructed using cut-and-cover construction. This raised concern over the disruption of local business on Cambie Street. Businesses in Yaletown and No. 3 Road in Richmond would also be affected by the construction. Although construction in the downtown was mostly by bored tunnel, businesses in Yaletown were caught off guard when it turned out that Yaletown-Roundhouse Station would be north of Pacific Boulevard on Davie Street, rather than south of Pacific Boulevard.[67] InTransitBC responded by launching an advertising campaign promoting local business on the line.[68][69] Despite these efforts, businesses on Cambie Street experienced significant loss of business. After numerous failed appeals to the provincial government for compensation, store operators unsuccessfully sued for compensation. However, since the completion of the Canada Line, the line has been linked to rising property values along Cambie Street and in Richmond.[59]

Impact on expansion of other transit options

It had been pointed out that construction of the Canada Line would do little to improve transit or alleviate congestion on the Broadway corridor to UBC, which serves more than 100,000 weekday trips on bus services, with many trips continuing to University of British Columbia. In addition, the Evergreen Line rapid transit project was delayed (until 2016). As TransLink is solely responsible for funding bus operations, any shortage of funding may translate into cuts in bus service.

Regional Growth Strategy

The Canada Line is expected to spur housing development in Richmond. Lansdowne Mall in Richmond, for example, is designed to develop into a new high-rise community. This growth is contrary to the Regional Growth Strategy agreed upon by the GVRD, an organization of regional municipalities. Growth was meant to be concentrated in Surrey, Coquitlam, and the Burrard Peninsula. Richmond was excluded from this area due to its location on the flood plain, as well as to reduce pressure on development of its agricultural land. This deviation from the Regional Growth Strategy was an important reason for opposition to the Canada Line by municipal representatives on the TransLink Board. The act creating TransLink states that the organization's purpose is to support the Regional Growth Strategy. However, the transit-oriented development spurred by the construction of the Canada Line will assist Richmond in meeting its population growth obligations under the Regional Growth Strategy, while allowing many of its suburban neighbourhoods to retain their form and character.

Hiring practices

There were several labour disputes related to wages and unionization between employees and contractors working on the construction of the Canada Line. To excavate the final 2 km of the tunnel underneath the downtown core a crew of 36 Latin American workers were brought to Canada from Costa Rica, Ecuador and Colombia in April 2006. The employer, a joint partnership of SELI Canada and SNC (Pacific) engaged workers to assemble the Tunnel Boring Machine (TBM) and begin excavations. Pay stubs and testimony evidence from the workers indicated that they were paid $1,000 USD monthly in exchange for 65hr work weeks (less than $4Cdn. per hour). The Latin Americans, all on temporary work permits joined the Construction and Specialized Workers Unions Local 1611 and in a majority vote won union certification on June 23, 2006. This was the first time in Canadian history that a group of temporary foreign workers in the construction industry had successfully exercised their right to form a union. Before the union had a chance to begin collective bargaining workers' wages increased to $14.21 per hour and hours were reduced to 40 hours per week with overtime concessions as required by BC labour law. The union was not consulted and the unilateral pay raise led to an unfair labour practice complaint from the CSWU 1611. The BC Labour Relations Board sided with the employer's (SELI - SNCP) explanation that there had been a mistake in calculations of wages during the months before the workers voted to join the union. The employer stalled negotiations for a collective agreement until they were ordered back to the bargaining table in August 2006 by the BCLRB.[70] In September, bargaining broke down. On September 21, 2006, CSWU 1611 workers threatened a strike vote to bring the employer back to the bargaining table.[71] After almost two years of litigation, the BC Labour Relations Board ruled against the union's claims of unfair labour practices.[72]

In a separate complaint the union claimed discrimination against the workers based on their country of origin. Even with the newly imposed wage of $14.21 per hour the Latin Americans were earning half the wages of European (Italian, Spanish and Portuguese) workers with whom they worked alongside and performed the same underground TBM operations.

On November 9, 2007, the BC Human Rights Tribunal ruled that the Latin American workers had been intimidated to sign a petition against being represented by their union.[73][74] The tribunal found that the workers were intimidated and coerced to sign a petition in the fear of possibly losing future job prospects with their employer. The petition would have prevented them from being represented by a union before the tribunal and would also have created evidence that could have jeopardized the ongoing investigation by the tribunal over perceived discrimination.[75]

Upon completion of the tunnels in March 2008 the workers were laid-off and returned to their home countries.[76] Only five of the workers were re-hired by SELI after their arrival back to their home countries.

On December 3, 2008 the BC Human Rights Tribunal found in favour of the discrimination complaint.[77]

The decision prohibits employers from discrimination based on a workers' country of origin. Migrant workers must not suffer wage discrimination based on low wage labour markets in their countries of origin. The Latin Americans workers were awarded the difference in wages with an additional $10,000 each in punitive damages. The total award averaged approximately $50,000 per worker or $2.5 million Cdn. SELI Canada appealed the decision to the BC Supreme Court. In December 2012 SELI agreed to a settlement offer by the union. The Latin American workers voted unanimously to accept a settlement. The settlement provided an indemnization of 50% of the original award.[78]


On December 20, 2014, an electrical fire just outside of Aberdeen Station produced sparks and smoke on a train with passengers on board. This caused delays on approximately 30% of the system for four hours, and the cancellation of service between Bridgeport and Richmond-Brighouse stations. Transit Police have reported no injuries or deaths from the incident.[79][80]

On August 13, 2015, service was disrupted due to a medical emergency involving a woman falling onto the tracks and being run over by a train.[81]

See also


  1. ^
  2. ^ "Frequently Asked Questions". Canada Line/TransLink. Retrieved June 17, 2009. 
  3. ^ "Canada Line linking Vancouver and Richmond to open Aug. 17". Vancouver Sun. Archived from the original on August 7, 2009. Retrieved August 4, 2009. 
  4. ^ Canada Line Archived August 30, 2006 at the Wayback Machine
  5. ^ a b "Cubic, TransLink Report Record Use of New Fare Collection System for Canada Line" (Press release). September 30, 2009. Retrieved October 10, 2009. 
  6. ^ "Are you prepared to travel during the 2010 Winter Games in Vancouver?". VANOC Communications. January 20, 2010. 
  7. ^ "TransLink reports transit ridership heading for a new record". Translink. August 22, 2011. Retrieved December 28, 2009. 
  8. ^ a b "TransLink carried 26 million passengers during Games". Vancouver Sun. Retrieved March 23, 2010. 
  9. ^ "TransLink Operating Companies". TransLink. Archived from the original on August 22, 2008. Retrieved December 2, 2008. 
  10. ^ "Frequently Asked Questions, Canada Line". Rapid Transit Office, City of Vancouver. Retrieved December 2, 2008. 
  11. ^ "Overview and Route Map". InTransitBC. Retrieved December 17, 2006. 
  12. ^ Hasiuk, Mark. "Disabled advocate down on Canada Line station design". The Vancouver Courier. Retrieved December 3, 2008. 
  13. ^ "Sun Tech City development may be shelved". Richmond Review. April 3, 2009. Retrieved August 3, 2009. 
  14. ^ "Funding Deal Inked for New Canada Line Capstan Station". Retrieved July 29, 2014. 
  15. ^ "Connecting Transit Services". TransLink. Retrieved July 29, 2009. 
  16. ^ Canada Line YVR AddFare coming Mon Jan 18: here’s how it works, By Jhenifer Pabillano, January 7, 2010, The Buzzer blog
  17. ^ Best and Final Offer Stage Report & Recommendations (PDF)
  18. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k "Canada Line Fact Sheet The Canada Line Vehicle" (PDF). (TransLink). December 14, 2007. p. 2. Archived from the original (PDF) on March 26, 2009. Retrieved June 16, 2015. 
  19. ^ "New Canada Line trains double capacity of current SkyTrain cars". CBC. December 14, 2007. Retrieved October 9, 2011. 
  20. ^ "Urban Rail Signalling Projects". Thales Group. Retrieved October 9, 2011. 
  21. ^ "Canada Line Launcher As Partners Unveil Vehicle". Transport Canada. September 25, 2005. Retrieved June 10, 2009. The Honourable David L. Emerson...gathered to unveil the Canada Line name and the vehicle design for the Richmond-Airport-Vancouver Rapid Transit Project. 
  22. ^ Viven Chiu and Patrick Rault (January 2003). "The Richmond-Airport-Vancouver Rapid link Project: The RAVP/Olympic line" (PDF). Study Marigni. Retrieved June 10, 2009. With the Whistler-Vancouver Olympic bid, this issue has been put under pressure, and the name of this line is temporarily chosen accordingly, in this study. Like recommended by previous studies, this study considers a line opening in phase with the 2010 Olympic game, it must be clear that the rail link need is studied independently of the Olympic bid, and its realization should not be tied to the Olympic bid success....The Olympic line is considered as a regional link more than a local service. 
  23. ^ "Olympic Line". The City of Vancouver. Retrieved June 7, 2010. 
  24. ^ Summary of Intermediate Capacity Transit System Studies, 10 year Development Plan 1995–2006, BC Transit, Stephen Gardner and Glen Leicester, March 1995, page 11
  25. ^ A Long-Range Transportation Plan for Greater Vancouver, Transport 2021 Report, September 1993, 65 pages, A joint Project of the GVRD and the Province of British Columbia
  26. ^ Summary of Intermediate Capacity Transit System Studies, 10 year Development Plan 1995–2006, preface
  27. ^ 98BLine_BRT_Evaluation Study, September 1993, page 6, IBI group, Transport Canada
  28. ^ Skytrain line to Airport Proposed, Vancouver Sun, June 25, 1998, by Scott Simpson
  29. ^ Richmond-downtown link on transit wish list, Vancouver Sun, Amy O'Brian, December 5, 2002
  30. ^ Bill C-49, Budget Implementation Act, 2001, Part 6,37th parliament, 1st session.
  31. ^ Frances Bula, Secret plan to explain federal RAV funds, Vancouver Sun, October 4, 2004
  32. ^ RAV line resurrected as B.C. offers to cover cost overruns, Vancouver Sun, Nicholas Read, Ayesha Bhatty, and Jim Beatty, June 11, 2004
  33. ^ Hop Aboard, RAV proponents urge, Gordon Campbell, Vancouver Sun, June 17, 2004
  34. ^ The Road Less Travelled, TransLink's Improbable Journey from 1999 to 2008, Trevor Wales, 2008, page 43, says it occurred in October 2004
  35. ^ "Canada Line launched as partners unveil vehicle" (Press release). November 25, 2005. Retrieved December 17, 2006. 
  36. ^ "Canada Line Delivers a Smooth Ride". Globe and Mail (Canada). December 28, 2009. Retrieved December 28, 2009. 
  37. ^ "Vancouver drivers urged to forgo cars when viaducts close this week". Vancouver Sun. February 2, 2010. 
  38. ^ "Twitter / TransLink BC: Record day on Canada Line". February 12, 2010. Retrieved May 19, 2012. 
  39. ^ "The Buzzer blog » A huge weekend for transit, plus Canada Line increases trains today". February 15, 2010. Retrieved May 19, 2012. 
  40. ^ "Rise in transit use called Olympic legacy". BC Local News. Retrieved February 11, 2011. 
  41. ^ Press release, Office of the Premier, March 27, 2009
  42. ^ a b Richmond keeps RAV on track, Joel Baglole and Jonathan Fowlie, with files from Jim Beatty and Frances Bula. The Vancouver Sun, November 30, 2004, pg. B.2
  43. ^ TransLink Annual Report 2008, page 64
  44. ^ Canada Line Final Project Report: Competitive Selection Phase, Final Assessment of Value for Money, July 29, 2005, figure 3, page 15
  45. ^ "About Us". InTransitBC. Archived from the original on February 3, 2007. Retrieved December 17, 2006. 
  46. ^ About, InTransitBC
  47. ^ Canada Line Info Bulletin No. 14 March 3, 2006. Information on the nature of the public/private partnership.
  48. ^ RAV line builder shaves ,2m off price: 'I think we have a fully financed project': McCallum, Jonathan Fowlie, The Vancouver Sun, November 29, 2004. pg. A.1.
  49. ^ Vancouver council minutes, July 11, 2006
  50. ^ RAV bridge to take pedestrians, Frank Luba, The Province, February 17, 2005. pg. A.21
  51. ^ TransLink annual report 2006, 2007 and 2008
  52. ^ Airport authority Annual Report 2006, 2007, 2008
  53. ^ Canada Line Fact Sheet No. January 22, 24, 2006
  54. ^ No turnstiles for SkyTrains until 2012, August 14, 2009, British Columbia, CBC News
  55. ^ Come clean on RAV line, MacPhail tells CampbellLarry Campbell's RAV Reward
  56. ^ "Privatization: Cabinet leak proves Liberals will do anything for a P3". October 4, 2004. Retrieved May 19, 2012. 
  57. ^ Campbell's 'kaputski' on RAV line financing tops the list of keepers so far, Vaughn Palmer, The Vancouver Sun, December 3, 2004. p. A3
  58. ^ a b Wendy Stuek (January 10, 2011). "Canada Line workers to take strike vote". Globe and Mail (Canada). Retrieved January 20, 2011. 
  59. ^ Community Consultation Discussion Guide and Feedback Form, March 2003, Translink and RAVP, p.9
  60. ^ Cambie Boulevard trees leave activist smiling, Sandra Thomas, The Vancouver Courier, November 2, 2007
  61. ^ Help Save Cambie Boulevard, and so much more, Vancouver Courier, February 22, 2004, p. 21, paid ad
  62. ^ Vancouver Sun, June 18, 19, 22
  63. ^ Business Coalition wants Victoria to take over RAV line, Brian Morton, Vancouver Sun, June 23, 2004
  64. ^ Councillors say they could forego RAV, Jonathan Fowlie, Vancouver Sun, November 25, 2004
  65. ^ Minutes, Richmond Council General Purpose Committee Meeting, November 22, 2004
  66. ^ Yaletown RAV stop stirs it up, William Boei, The Vancouver Sun, December 7, 2005. pg. B.2
  67. ^ "Business is open, are you?" (PDF) (Press release). InTransitBC. March 20, 2006. Retrieved March 9, 2007. 
  68. ^ Krangle, Karenn (March 4, 2003). "Translink seeks public input on rapid Richmond route; [Final Edition]". Vancouver Sun. p. B.2. 
  69. ^ Mark Brown, BCLRB Vice Chair, July 30, 2006 “The Employer cannot simply refuse to meet to bargain collectively based on its view of the Union’s applications. The Employer cannot set preconditions to the commencement of collective bargaining. In doing so, the Employer has violated Sections 11 and Section 47 (the requirement to bargain in good faith and begin bargaining within 10 days of certification) of the BC Labour Code.” Brown ordered the Employer to meet with the union within 10 days.
  70. ^ "Labour strife plagues Canada Line construction". CKNW News Talk 980. Retrieved October 19, 2006. 
  71. ^$2008.pdf
  72. ^ "BC transit line builders coerced workers, tribunal rules". Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved December 23, 2007. 
  73. ^ "Official document on the ruling" (PDF). BC Human Rights Tribunal. Retrieved December 23, 2007. 
  74. ^ "Canada Line companies intimidated foreign workers: Tribunal".  
  75. ^ Union calls SLCP-SELI Joint Venture’s Canada Line foreign-worker lay-offs “a set up” – Journal of Commerce. Retrieved July 26, 2013.
  76. ^
  77. ^ Canada Line Temporary Foreign Workers paid B.C. Human Rights Tribunal settlement. YouTube (June 28, 2013). Retrieved July 26, 2013.
  78. ^ "Story - The Province". Retrieved December 21, 2014. 
  79. ^ "SkyTrain electrical fire disrupts service in Richmond". December 21, 2014. Retrieved December 21, 2014. 
  80. ^

External links

  • The Canada Line website
  • Canada Line – TransLink's page for the line
  • High Risk – An Analysis of the Proposed Public-Private Partnership for the Richmond/Airport/Vancouver Rapid Transit Project, May 2003, by Blair Redlin, Report by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives
  • TransLink – regional transportation authority of Metro Vancouver
  • The Richmond-Airport-Vancouver Rapid Link Project, The RAVP / The Olympic Line, January 2003 study, By Viven Chiu and Patrick Rault Marigni at
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