The Evergreen Extension will open its gates to transit riders in time for the Christmas rush.
Trains will begin rolling on Dec. 2 and bus route schedule changes will go into effect on Dec. 19, kicking off a projected ridership growth that the province expects will hit 70,000 people per day by 2021.
During the announcement at Moody Centre Station Monday morning, an excited Port Moody Mayor Mike Clay told a gathering of TransLink officials and politicians the opening of rapid transit would have positive ramifications for the Tri-Cities and the rest of the region.
“The only thing better would have been if it were [opening] today, but we’ll take it,” Clay said.
“This is going to transform our community. It is going to help young people get back and forth between jobs around the region where they have had difficulty commuting. It is going to help us get around socially around the region… and hopefully bring more people out to the Tri-Cities and experience what a wonderful area we have here.”
When it opens, the 11-km extension of the Millennium Line is expected to be able to carry passengers from Coquitlam Town Centre to Burnaby’s Lougheed Town Centre in 15 minutes.
TransLink officials told The Tri-City News that further announcements regarding bus integration with SkyTrain should be expected in the coming weeks.
The provincial government will hand over operations of the line to TransLink this month in conjunction with a large-scale public awareness campaign encouraging people to take advantage of the new SkyTrain infrastructure.
“We are in the home stretch and we’re looking forward to the opening of this critical addition to the region’s transportation network,” said BC transportation minister Todd Stone in a press release.
Coquitlam-Port Coquitlam Liberal MP Ron McKinnon said the infrastructure project will “help the middle class grow and prosper now and into the future. The Evergreen Extension will help get people where they need to go safely, efficiently and comfortably, and I am very pleased that it will be in service in the coming weeks.”
Added Port Moody-Coquitlam BC Liberal MLA Linda Reimer, “Families and businesses have been waiting for rapid transit to link their communities, cut commute times and provide more transportation choices. In a few short weeks, the Evergreen Extension will be a part of our communities for generations to come.”
Funding for the line came from the Canadian government ($424 million), the provincial government ($586 million) and other partners ($21 million).
– with files from Janis Cleugh