With just over a week to go before the Evergreen Extension finally opens, Tri-City commuters are planning how they will use the new rapid transit system. In the lead-up to the opening, Tri-City News reporter Diane Strandberg found out how five local residents will use the system and what hopes and concerns they have.
Aaron Robinson has two jobs — one at The Tri-Cities Chamber of Commerce, which is located next to the Lafarge-Lake Douglas Station, and another downtown Vancouver, where he is a policy advisor with the Greater Vancouver Board of Trade. Already a regular commuter on West Coast Express, Robinson says he expects to switch to the Evergreen Extension because it is closer to where he lives and offers more flexibility. As well, he expects to use SkyTrain to get to his Coquitlam job and in the evenings to visit friends.
He thinks more of his friends will now visit him. "I've got friends in Vancouver who said they wouldn't venture out until SkyTrain opens."
Eventually, Robinson hopes to be able to give up his car but believes that won't happen until there are more car-sharing opportunities in the Tri-Cities.
"In order for me to get rid of that car, I need to know I can use those cars for the last mile of my trip."
Daniel Paulino plans to use the Evergreen Extension to get to downtown Vancouver to get to work, where he is now applying for jobs, and to socialize. A regular transit user, Paulino says he would have benefitted from an earlier Evergreen opening because he would have spent less time on buses to get to school and could have used rapid transit more to get out and meet friends. For example, if he was late getting to the Coquitlam Central bus loop and missed the last C30 bus, he would have to walk home to his homes in the New Horizons neighbourhood.
Now, if he gets the job he is hoping for, the bus will connect to Lafarge Lake-Douglas and Paulino can take rapid transit to the Olympic Village via the Millennium, Expo and Canada lines.
"I can't wait for it to open," says the recent Simon Fraser University graduate.
Jason Demidoff works in the film industry and says he has been waiting for the Evergreen Extension for 15 years. Because he uses transit to get everywhere throughout the Lower Mainland and will be able to get on at Lafarge Lake-Douglas, which is within walking distance of his home, he says Evergreen will make his life easier.
But Demidoff worries about the SkyTrain getting even more congested than it already is.
"Right now, it's workable, but as the population continues to grow and they add more buses and more lines, I'm not sure."
Stefanie Webster works for BC Hydro in downtown Vancouver and currently uses the West Coast Express (WCE) to get to work. She is looking forward to switching to the Evergreen Extension because the Inlet Centre Station is within walking distance of her home and she won't need to take a bus to connect to the WCE. It will also be more convenient for getting home at night in case she decides to stay downtown to visit friends.
"It's cheaper and it gives me more flexibility," Webster says. And as for her social life, "It's pure gold."
But she's worried about the congestion during peak hours and whether the commute will take longer because she has to switch trains at Broadway and Commercial.
"If it's hell, I'll switch back to the WCE."
A young father whose mornings are rushed getting the kids to daycare, Geoff Nelson is looking forward to the flexibility that the Evergreen Extension will bring. The resident of the Forest Park area of Port Moody says he'll continue to take the West Coast Express into town but, if he runs late, he can switch to SkyTrain in either direction for more flexibility.
He also plans to use the Evergreen Extension for "date night" if he can work out the bus connections in the evening.
"If we're going to go out for dinner and a movie, I'll probably drive, but if we're were having drinks, we would definitely consider taking that."