The Evergreen Line won't start moving passengers until early 2017 but as part of a sneak peek of the new Inlet Centre Station and update on the project Monday morning, a test SkyTrain arrived in Port Moody.
Peter Fassbender, the provincial minister in charge of TransLink, welcomed the train to the new underground station and provided a progress report for the Evergreen Line, saying the 11-km extension to the existing SkyTrain system would be completed on time and on budget — even though Evergreen was first scheduled for completion in summer 2016, then fall of this year before delays in tunnel-boring prompted the early 2017 opening.
"Now we are on time to the deadline that has been put in place, and so in early 2017 it will be up and running," he said. "When people start riding it, the date that was moved is going to be forgotten and they are going to see… the longest automated system in the world."
The ministry announced Monday that the Evergreen Line station plazas in Port Moody will be built over the summer at a cost of approximately $1.5 million.
The work will start in mid-May and the plazas are designed to be "welcoming functional public spaces" and will include bike racks, seating, public art and landscaping.
Fassbender said the Evergreen Line project, which will cost an estimated $1.4 billion and include six new stations and upgrades to Lougheed Town Centre Station, is now 85% complete.
The line is expected to carry about 50,000 passengers on opening day and links Port Moody, Coquitlam and Burnaby to Vancouver, integrated into the existing Millennium Line at the Lougheed Town Centre Station.
In spite of changing completion deadlines, Port Moody Mayor Mike Clay enjoyed catching a glimpse of SkyTrain in Port Moody during Monday's event.
"It just felt right to see the SkyTrain coming through Port Moody," he told The Tri-City News, noting that much of the high-density development in the area was done in anticipation of having a transit system connection to the community.
"We have lots of riders here and we have more to come in the yet-to-come development in this area, and enabling people to get around the region," he said.
Clay said he also likes the look and feel of the new stations in Port Moody.
"These stations are going to be beautiful, they are really to the design and character we wanted in Port Moody. We didn't want great big stations up in the air, so the SkyTrain is under the ground here and the station is at grade level. They blend in… they are safe, they are going to be bright and open, lots of glass, this is going to be one very busy station here."
The Evergreen Line is being paid for by the provincial and federal governments and TransLink, which will operate the system.