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Getting around during the Olympics

First, the good news. If you live in one of Metro Vancouver's suburbs and don't have to commute into Vancouver for work, traffic won't be too bad.

First, the good news.

If you live in one of Metro Vancouver's suburbs and don't have to commute into Vancouver for work, traffic won't be too bad.

Motorists should be able to drive within their own communities for work, shopping and other everyday trips without hitting much more than normal congestion.

There won't be any of the road and bridge closures, Olympic-only lanes or parking restrictions that will constrict traffic in Vancouver.

If you're a regular transit user, expect buses to be busier than normal as Games-goers ride to local live sites or to SkyTrain to avoid driving downtown.

If the system is overwhelmed, you may see your already-full bus roll by without stopping.

TransLink aims to ensure those pass-ups don't happen.

An extra 160 roving buses are at the ready to roll into action wherever they're needed most.

At least 10 are in Surrey, with another six to 10 in the Tri-Cities area, along with more in Richmond, South Delta and West Vancouver.

"If we see that a certain route is becoming busy we can dispatch that bus and add capacity to that route," said Matt Craig, TransLink's senior transportation planner.

TransLink expects transit use will jump 33% during the Olympics to a million trips a day, as visitors and locals alike heed the advice to ride instead of drive.

One factor that may help ease demand is that many universities and other schools will be on breaks.

Buses should run at least every 15 minutes on frequent transit corridors such as the Fraser Highway out to Langley, Highway 99 or King George Highway to South Surrey and Lougheed Highway to Coquitlam and Maple Ridge.

Demand on those routes that connect to SkyTrain will be closely monitored and ramped up as needed.

You can pre-plan your route by entering dates and times of travel on the trip planner at

live sites

If you're trying to get to your local live site, don't expect to park nearby.

Everyone else will have the same idea.

Nor can you count on not being ticketed if you use a mall parking lot that hasn't been cleared for use by TransLink.

Instead, scout further afield for a place to park and ride a bus on a frequent transit corridor.

Some shuttle services will be on offer -you can park at Fraser Downs Racetrack and Casino, for example, and catch a bus to Surrey's Celebration Site at Holland Park.

It may also be possible to park somewhere such as the Scott Road station and ride SkyTrain east to King George Station, across from the Holland Park celebration zone.

flame troubles

Like moths to a flame, the Olympic torch will be a magnet for sightseers as it crisscrosses the Lower Mainland Feb. 7-11.

That means temporary road closures wherever it goes.

Expect rolling 20-minute delays if the flame is where you're trying to go.

use the train

Simply put, if you go downtown to soak up the Olympic atmosphere, live sites and free concerts - and many people will at some point during the Games -don't try to drive all the way unless you want a gold medal in frustration.

Rush-hour conditions are expected to prevail downtown almost 24 hours a day.

The best way to get there will be by SkyTrain or West Coast Express on the north side of the Fraser River from areas like the Tri-Cities, Maple Ridge and Mission.

West Coast Express will run at least three extra trains a day and it will also be a potential option for those from Abbotsford and northern Langley via the Mission or Golden Ears bridges.

SeaBuses will also run every 10 minutes from North Vancouver's Lonsdale Quay, thanks to a newly launched third vessel.

The Canada Line will be a good option for Richmond, South Delta and potentially South Surrey/White Rock residents via an express bus that connects at Bridgeport Station.

Where to park

The main trick will be getting to a rapid transit station.

Existing park and rides with 7,200 stalls will be open (see and several more temporary lots at closed colleges and businesses will open up for the Games.

The vast city of New Westminster waterfront parkade has been cleared for use as a park-and-ride during the Olympics, offering 500 stalls.

Another 400 to 650 will also be available up the hill at Douglas College, which will be on break.

It may make more sense for some Surrey and south of Fraser passengers to park at one of those New Westminster lots and board SkyTrain there, rather than the Surrey park-and-rides at Scott Road and King George stations that could fill up fast.

For Canada Line users, there's a big existing park-and-ride at the River Rock Casino Resort that connects to Bridgeport Station, but temporary lots are available near Landsdowne Station at the Kwantlen Polytechnic University Richmond campus and a much pricier lot at Sheraton Vancouver Airport Hotel.

The parking will be free at Langley's Cascades Casino (buses go up Fraser Highway to SkyTrain) and at extra lots at the Port Moody and Maple Meadows and Mission West Coast Express stations.

The full list with prices is at:

Even with almost 3,200 extra parking stalls that will push the region's total to more than 10,000, it may be hard to find a spot.

If you can walk from home to a bus route and catch a ride from there, says TransLink's Ken Hardie, so much the better. Once aboard SkyTrain, you'll be downtown much quicker.


Another tip: Buy prepaid tickets in advance, available at many convenience stores, pharmacies and supermarkets.

You'll save money and scoot past the line-ups at SkyTrain ticket vending machines. They'll also save you fumbling for correct change if you take a bus.

A book of 10 three-zone FareSaver tickets -needed for travel from south of the Fraser, the Tri-Cities or Maple Ridge -will cost $38. Ten two-zone tickets good for travel from the North Shore, Burnaby, New Westminster or Richmond cost $28.50.

Want to just go once? A $9 day pass ($7 for seniors and students) may be the most flexible option, giving unlimited all-day travel with no worries about ticket expiry times.

Note: Trips after 6:30 p.m. or on weekends cost only one zone no matter how far you go. Ten one-zone tickets are $19.

TransLink also sells a six-week commemorative Olympic pass good from Feb. 12 to March 21 that goes for $149 (two zones), $204 (three zones) or $64 (concession).

Special fares apply for West Coast Express, but prepaid tickets can be applied against those rates.

Before leaving

Plan your route at or with Google Maps. Print out any route maps and times you may want.

Buy any prepaid transit tickets you'll need at a fare dealer - see

Pack lightly and wear warm, waterproof layers and good footwear -you may be standing in transit and walking considerable distances. See


Follow "TransLink" on Twitter and get instant service alerts pushed to your smart phone or computer.

NextBus SMS service can instantly send your cellphone the scheduled times for the next buses coming to any given stop. Text the stop number to 33333.

Check interactive maps for real-time congestion trouble spots at or

Listen to local radio or watch video monitors in stations for service alerts.

For more info on the go, point your web-enabled cellphone to mobile site or download the free TransLink app for iPhone.

Ask for help: Blue-jacketed TransLink staff, volunteers wearing red "Ask me" buttons and others in line can assist.


Extra daily riders on transit: 250,000.

Total daily riders during Games: 1 million.

Extra vehicles: 160 buses, 48 SkyTrain cars and a new SeaBus.

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