While hanging out at a Main Street coffee shop this afternoon, I overheard a conversation between a mom and her four-year-old.
“We can go out to the airport,” the mom said as they were leaving.
“Oh, that’s a long drive!”
Yes. Yes it is. With the opening of the Canada Line now moved up to August 17th, less than two weeks away, it will actually be quite a bit faster–for me, at least. The closest station is a 2km walk, bus, or bike ride away, but I expect door-to-door travel time to be much, much shorter than calling a cab.
It remains to be seen how well the existing bus service will integrate with the new stations, and if more frequent east-west buses will be needed to funnel Vancouver residents into the Cambie Street corridor. In any event, by opening early, Translink and InTransit BC will hopefully have some extra time to work out many of the bugs before the old bus routes out of Richmond get discontinued.
I probably won’t use the Canada Line much myself, still being closer to the Main Street bus myself. Since I tend not to go to Richmond or Oakridge Centre much, I don’t see a lot of opportunity to use it, but it would definitely make getting to Yaletown or Davie Street from my neighbourhood much more convenient.
Plus, as has been pointed out to me by friends and drinking buddies alike, now that I’ll be attending Langara College, the 49th Avenue station makes it extremely convenient to blast down to Gastown for a drink immediately after class. (Guys, you get that school isn’t 9–5, right?)
Still, this really does hammer home the point that for a pedestrian and transit user, the shape of our city really is defined by which buses go where. (Hint: they go downtown.) Personally, when I’m a passenger in a friend’s car, I never think about taking 12th Avenue to cut across town because there aren’t buses that go there.
These fascinating travel-time maps of Great Britain effectively illustrate what even a densely-populated country like the United Kingdom must contend with when moving people and goods around.
Also interesting is the implication of what “central” means to different people. This week, there’s been some discussion over at the Vancouver League of Drupalers, of having some coworking meetups to chat about Drupal projects we’ve been working on, get some coding down, and so forth. But where to actually meet? The Grind at Main and King Edward? Sweet, I’m there. Waves in New West? Yeah, not as convenient. However, if I lived right beside any Expo Line SkyTrain station in Vancouver proper save for Stadium or Main Street, it would be faster to go all the way out to New Westminster, hands down.
Fortunately, having my spiffy new bike has opened up a lot of options too, particularly with the ability to switch to transit when I need it, now that all the buses have bike racks.
So far today, I’ve ridden just under 8 kilometres to three out of four scheduled errands. The last one will double that. I’ll spend most of it on the cross-town 10th Avenue bike route. In the end, I will have spent about the same amount of time on the road as I would have, had I driven, if you factor in parking. It’s pretty liberating, I have to say.
But hey, even if it isn’t something that’s totally useful for me, a link to Richmond and the airport was necessary. I wish different choices had been made in construction and planning, but it’s definitely something we’ll be getting some use out of as a city. Plus, hey, Vancouver’s the first Canadian city with a subway link to the airport. Go us.