Tens of thousands of people stood in line for hours yesterday to experience the new rapid transit line in Vancouver. Such excitement has not greeted new transit options before, which got me thinking about the relationship between metro lines, a city, and its residents.
Unlike two previous routes, which primarily link suburban residential areas to downtown, this “Canada Line” links a variety of great places — real destinations — together:
- The financial core / downtown area and nearby Granville St. Entertainment District
- The trendy, restaurant-rich condo-ville of Yaletown
- City Hall and the new retail developments adjacent as well as the Vancouver General Hospital complex
- Langara University College
- River Rock Casino (which has a theatre that brings in great retro musical acts)
- The Vancouver International Airport
Many more citizens can see themselves benefiting from this line, compared with the previous two which have really only served commuters from bedroom communities. I think that accounts for the extra excitement. That it opened three months early, and in August, also helped (not sure how many would have stood in the rainy November weather had it opened on schedule).
It will be interesting to see how ridership does. I could see this line having much more balanced use beyond during rush hour as people go about their daily activities.
For those of you familiar with transit and metro systems, what’s your experience? Do metro lines connecting special places — destinations — have better ridership? Do they mean more to you and other residents in the city?
This is not to say a debate doesn’t continue about whether this infrastructure was worth the cost (although I personally think it’s a worthwhile investment in a future, green, livable region). I’m wanting a different discussion on what makes rapid transit work, and what makes rapid transit draw people from a variety of backgrounds.