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  #1  
Old Posted Oct 5, 2009, 8:42 PM
lightrail lightrail is offline
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A Tale of two Cities - Toronto and Vancouver

I just got back from a trip to Niagara Falls and thought I'd share some observations.

Getting from Toronto Airport to Toronto

On arrival at Terminal 1, ground transportation is well signed and easy to follow. The TTC bus stop is easy to find, with departure information for the various routes. The airport is served 24 hours a day by TTC route 192 (express to Kipling Subway) - the 58 Malton to the Spadina Subway, and two night routes. The 192 Express was running at 12 minute headways during the afternoon rush. The bus takes 20 minutes to get to Kipling Subway. Interestingly, even though the route is express, it does not run on the freeways - probably because of the chronic traffic congestion on the freeways.

TTC got it right with the subway stations; the buses pull into bays that are within the fare paid zone, behind the fare gates. So there is a quick painless transfer to and from the subway, without needing a transfer or to show any passes. Even though the trains are aging, the subway is comfortable, clean and fast. The drivers kept the dwell time to a minimun, in some cases opening the doors for only 5 seconds, depending on the demand. The trains were busy, but not crowded (though going the other way they were packed. One slow down for yellow flags, but otherwise maintained speed.

Transfer at St. George was okay. It's an easy transfer up the stairs to the University Line, but St. George's centre platforms are narrow by today's standards and the station can't handle the crowds transferring very well. We had to wait a while to get on the stairs up to the platform above.

Journey Time: 1 hour
Transfers: 2 (bus to subway, subway to subway)
Cost: $2.75 (no paper transfers needed)
Payment at airport: cash only (exact change)

Pros:
- easy transfers at subway
- frequent service
- clean
- takes 1 hour including transfers

Cons:
- Exact change only at the airport to board the bus cold be a problem for people arriving in the country
- no racks on the bus for bags lowers the buses capacity
- stairs and escalators not easy to navigate with bags - lifts at most locations, but there are some places where you need to navigate a few steps and no alternative
- need to make 2 transfers to reach Union Station


Getting from Vancouver Airport to Vancouver
On arrival at the domestic terminal, signage for the SKyTrain is not well marked. There are signs saying "Canada Line" with a train pictogram, but to me this is not obvious as a sign towards public transport. It would be easy to get lost finding the trains.

The station is open, bright, airy and welcoming. Ticket machines are easy to use (now they've fixed them to provide on-screen directions for using credit cards). Train information display makes it easy to know when the next train is arriving and where it is going. Friendly attendant very helpful, cheerful - great way to welcome people to the system and Vancouver. Trains serve the airport from 5:00am to 1:00am and after that the N10 serves the airport until 3am (but from a different part of the airport terminal).

On this Sunday morning, the trains were running every 12 minutes, but arrive a good 6 minutes before departure, allowing people to settle on the train well in advance of departure. The train was half full leaving the airport. Trip downtown was fast. The system is clean and reliable. Only annoying thing is the train is too talky, I don't need to be told the train is "for waterfront" on leaving every station. As the trains are automated, dwell time at stations is programmed according to demand. Dwell time at some stations seemed too long given the traffic.

No barrier access and open spaces on the trains makes it easy to use the system with luggage.

Journey Time: 25 minutes
Transfers: None
Cost: $2.50 sunday ($3.75 weekdays 6am-6pm)
Payment at airport: Credit cards, debit cards or cash (change given)

Pros:
- quick, fast and smooth

Cons:
- poor signage at the airport
- relatively expensive for the distance, though still a good deal

Nuit Blanche
As an aside, I also experienced Nuit Blanche in Toronto on Saturday night. The subway was running all night for the event; over 1 million people experience the contemporary art festival. My experience went something like this:
10pm - arrived by subway at Dundas Square - Toronto Time's Square.
10:30pm - City Hall plaza - fantastic word machine using 1500 watt halogens and suspended 200 ft up between the twin city hall towers
11:00pm - Bay Street - wild ride and other interactive art
11:30pm - Union Station - in the darkened hall, sound, light and smoke evoked a bygone era of travel - all while regular passengers and porters pushed their way through the crowds to and from in-service trains
12:00 midnight - Lambert galleria - witches cradles and refreshments (for us)
1:00am - took a streetcar a few kilometres east to the Distillery district - more art in old buildings and alleyways
2:00am - took a streetcar west to Liberty Square (the streetcars were extremely crowded, so much so, the driver was letting people board at the rear doors and not worrying about payment - most people had a Nuit Blanche transit pass anyway)
2:30am - watching and listening art on the ceiling of a 24 hour supermarket
3:00am - watching two lit construction cranes dance to music - pretty wild and weired
4:00am 0 I had to leave to catch my flight back to the west coast - but Nuit Blanche continued until the sun rises...
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  #2  
Old Posted Oct 5, 2009, 9:16 PM
vansky vansky is offline
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the train sinage at yvr is shit, it's confusing even for ppl who know the airport well...and other signs are just too small, hard to follow
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  #3  
Old Posted Oct 5, 2009, 9:19 PM
deasine deasine is offline
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Well with regards to the size, it has to be uniform to all the rest of the signs at YVR, but I have to say simply stating "Canada Line" means nothing for a person who doesn't know.

But honestly, if you are travelling to another city, you should be doing your research prior to entering.
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Old Posted Oct 5, 2009, 9:26 PM
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Nice post, thanks for sharing.



Yea, the YVR signage should have something like "Trains to Vancouver". Don't bother calling it "Canada Line" as it could be mistaken as Air Canada to tourists and don't bother calling it "SkyTrain" either as it could be mistaken as solely an airport people mover.

Interesting how buses in Toronto pull into fare paid zones. Any pictures?
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Old Posted Oct 5, 2009, 9:44 PM
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Originally Posted by mr.x View Post
Interesting how buses in Toronto pull into fare paid zones. Any pictures?

Most Toronto bus loops @ subway stations are behind fences - i.e. within the turnstiles - so no transfer is required. That actually makes their stations more expensive to construct and develop because you can't take advantage of the sidewalks and City infrstructure - you have to make your own passages and the two have to be practically on top of each other (more land acquisition). You cannot walk to the street from the bus loop side of the terminal - meaning that stations must have at least 2 entrances - one to the back (to buses) and one to the street.
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Old Posted Oct 5, 2009, 9:48 PM
vansky vansky is offline
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Originally Posted by mr.x View Post
Nice post, thanks for sharing.



Yea, the YVR signage should have something like "Trains to Vancouver". Don't bother calling it "Canada Line" as it could be mistaken as Air Canada to tourists and don't bother calling it "SkyTrain" either as it could be mistaken as solely an airport people mover.

Interesting how buses in Toronto pull into fare paid zones. Any pictures?
should've been train to vancouver and richmond...by the way, the train sign doens't even suggest a train, if u never see a train head like that, would u think that's a train?
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Old Posted Oct 5, 2009, 9:57 PM
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^ it's obviously a train symbol.
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Old Posted Oct 5, 2009, 9:59 PM
BCPhil BCPhil is offline
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"Trains" with an arrow pointing the way would work, and be bilingual.
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  #9  
Old Posted Oct 5, 2009, 10:07 PM
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^ or tri-lingual, with Chinese.
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Old Posted Oct 5, 2009, 10:38 PM
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Originally Posted by mr.x View Post
...and don't bother calling it "SkyTrain" either as it could be mistaken as solely an airport people mover.
I don't see how tourists will think "SkyTrain" as airport people mover. The most famous "Skytrain" in the world is Bangkok Skytrain, and I think most tourist will immediately recognize the name "Skytrain" as a vast transit system.
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Old Posted Oct 5, 2009, 10:49 PM
The_Henry_Man The_Henry_Man is offline
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It should say "Skytrain" in large font with the train logo (better yet, with the official Skytrain logo), similar to the Skytrain sign at River Rock, and underneath that in slightly smaller font, "Canada Line to Waterfront or Richmond-Brighouse".
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Old Posted Oct 5, 2009, 11:53 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CLC View Post
I don't see how tourists will think "SkyTrain" as airport people mover. The most famous "Skytrain" in the world is Bangkok Skytrain, and I think most tourist will immediately recognize the name "Skytrain" as a vast transit system.
I was at the tourist visitor centre once and some guy was asking what skytrain is. The lady told him that it is a subway running in the sky. He nodded and left.
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Old Posted Oct 6, 2009, 12:21 AM
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Originally Posted by CLC View Post
I don't see how tourists will think "SkyTrain" as airport people mover. The most famous "Skytrain" in the world is Bangkok Skytrain, and I think most tourist will immediately recognize the name "Skytrain" as a vast transit system.
Well for one thing, the whole area lacks a system map until you get to the station concourse right outside the platform.

Secondly, you overestimate how many people know of Bangkok's "SkyTrain" system.

Not everyone knows. Sure, each major city has its own metro system but not everyone knows its name. The only really popular ones are "subway" which can be used as the term for every city that has an underground rail system. And then, there's the London Underground and HK MTR.
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Old Posted Oct 6, 2009, 1:57 AM
CLC CLC is offline
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^^^

even included HK MTR as "well known"? well , there is also MRT in Singapore in the Asia Pacific region. Given these two similar abbreviations found in two of the world top 10 cities, so I guess MRT/MTR is more recognizable as mass transit than "Skytrain" (used in Bangkok and Vancouver)
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Old Posted Oct 6, 2009, 2:19 AM
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I agree: SkyTrain doesn't really mean anything for someone who knows nothing about Vancouver. SkyTrain can easily be confused with AirTrain, which is a people mover train in San Francisco International Airport that does connect the areas of SFO with BART/CalTrain. SkyTrain itself means nothing unless there is a destination.

However, if it's SkyTrain Canada Line to Downtown Vancouver/Richmond, then it should be fine.
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Old Posted Oct 6, 2009, 3:27 AM
lightrail lightrail is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mr.x View Post
Nice post, thanks for sharing.



Yea, the YVR signage should have something like "Trains to Vancouver". Don't bother calling it "Canada Line" as it could be mistaken as Air Canada to tourists and don't bother calling it "SkyTrain" either as it could be mistaken as solely an airport people mover.

Interesting how buses in Toronto pull into fare paid zones. Any pictures?
Sorry no - didn't think Here's a map of Finch Station - the TTC bus loop can been seen above the station platform. These bus bays are behind the barrier. The Go Finch Bus Terminal requires going through the barrier, which makes sense as you pay a separate fare for Go Buses.



There are different approaches used throughout the system. But as a previous poster said, the back of the station building has doors leading to the buses, a bit like a long distance bus station. This is walled in so only buses can get in. Some stations have similar setups for streetcars, some have underground bus and streetcar loops with stairs up or down to the trains.

Also go to comment on the turn styles. Toronto uses the old fashioned turnstile and they do slow down the traffic. Inbound, the turnstiles are operated by tokens, which you need to buy from the token booth (unless you have a supply). If you have big bags, you can line up and go through the token booth where there's space for bags to be rolled through. If you have a pass, you need to go through the token booth turnstile because without tokens, you cannot get through the remote turnstiles.

Exiting, the turnstiles only stop inbound traffic from entering. There's no fare check as you leave (not necessary in a single zone system). Stroller gate is there for large bags. Again slows down traffic. Newer fare gates would probably be better and faster combined with a smart card system. Something Toronto seems years away from even thinking about.

The Toronto subway cars are wider than the Canada Line at 3.13 metres wide. They're longer at 22 metres. They are also non-standard gauge at 2 inches wider than standard (the subway uses the same non-standard gauge as the streetcars). I believe this was done to prevent mainline companies from running their trains through the streets of Toronto.
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  #17  
Old Posted Oct 6, 2009, 3:55 AM
deasine deasine is offline
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Originally Posted by lightrail View Post
They are also non-standard gauge at 2 inches wider than standard (the subway uses the same non-standard gauge as the streetcars). I believe this was done to prevent mainline companies from running their trains through the streets of Toronto.
That was actually a rumor, someone proved that to me on the SSC forum. I forgot what the reason was though...
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Old Posted Oct 6, 2009, 4:03 AM
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^ or tri-lingual, with Chinese.
About the Chinese translation. I found it funny that Translink multilingual schedules now have two different translation of "Skytrain" to Chinese, it is actually different term used in Traditional Chinese ("架空列車") and Simplified Chinese("天铁"). If I remember correct, there used to be only one translation (the Traditional one) in BCTransit era.
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Old Posted Oct 6, 2009, 4:34 AM
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you gotta be pretty stupid not to see the train as soon as you step outside at YVR

and again most foreigners/tourists have their transport prearranged - its called transfers and you pay for it when you book your package
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Old Posted Oct 6, 2009, 5:15 AM
deasine deasine is offline
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Interesting how buses in Toronto pull into fare paid zones. Any pictures?
Finally... SSP is back up and running.


Photography by Wyliepoon of Flickr

But it's also important to note that the bus loop behind turnstiles not only speeds up boarding time, but also serves as a warm shelter for waiting for buses in the winter.
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