Monday, August 17, 2009

Vancouver “Canada Line” debuts

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British Columbia’s C$2 billion (US$1.8 billion) Canada Line, the third Skytrain route serving metropolitan Vancouver, began revenue operations Monday. The new route, operating along 11.8 miles linking Vancouver with Richmond, includes a 2.5-mile spur linking downtown Vancouver with its international airport in approximately 26 minutes, reportedly making Vancouver the first Canadian city with a rail rapid transit link to an airport.

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The new line “is going to have the capacity to move a very large number of people in a reliable travel time," TransLink spokesman Ken Hardie said. "When it has its own right of way, it's not subject to traffic congestion."

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Some 6,000 people an hour are expected to ride the Canada Line on its opening day Monday. TransLink forecasts ridership will grow to 100,000 riders per day by 2013, served by 16 stations (three more remain in the planning stages). Originally scheduled to open this November, the line has opened early in part to prepare for anticipated heavy use by visitors to the 2010 Winter Olympics.

Montreal-based SNC-Lavalin Inc. oversaw the Canada Line’s implementation under a design-build-operate-maintain (DBOM) contract; the company will operate the line for 35 years. Funding for the C$1.35 billion project was provided by the federal government (C$450 million), as well as the British Columbian provincial government, Vancouver International Airport Authority, and TransLink, which each contributed C$300 million.