$1.4 billion dollars and many years later, the Evergreen Line to the Tri-Cities is up and running.
And hundreds of people waited in line in our miserable West Coast weather to be among the first on board.
Port Coquitlam resident John Walker and his daughter Ayano were the first to tap their Compass Card.
“It’s much easier to get downtown now, saves some money but saves a lot of time too,” he says.
There were hundreds of people gathered outside Coquitlam Central station by 11:30 a.m. to get a glimpse of the new line up close and take one of the first public voyages to Lougheed Station and beyond.
— Bailey Nicholson (@bnicholsonCKNW) December 2, 2016
It’s official. @Translink Evergreen Line is open to public. Hundreds wrapped around Coquitlam Central Station now coming through fare gates. pic.twitter.com/UhgMtNqEee — Emily Lazatin (@EmilyLazatin980) December 2, 2016
Maple Ridge resident Marie Newman says her travel time has been cut in half as a result of the extension.
“It would take another hour and fifteen minutes to get downtown with the system the way it is now, but with this system I imagine I’ll be there in thirty minutes.”
And it’s not just an exciting day for local commuters; one woman said she was there just to show her five-year-old son the new trains.
The extension of the existing Millennium Line will now connect the Tri-Cities with Burnaby, Surrey and all the way to downtown Vancouver.
Both Walker and Newman say they travel to Vancouver five days a week and will rely on the Evergreen Line.
READ MORE: Evergreen Line on track for 2017 completion
Among those on hand for the ribbon-cutting was Premier Christy Clark. Arriving on an Evergreen SkyTrain to Coquitlam Central, she called today an exciting one for transit.
— Emily Lazatin (@EmilyLazatin980) December 2, 2016
.@christyclarkbc steps off train at Coquitlam Central, says ‘Today is a great day’ as #EvergreenLine set to be operational at noon. pic.twitter.com/DoN3B52gAO — Emily Lazatin (@EmilyLazatin980) December 2, 2016
While people sometimes like to complain about SkyTrain, today is all about the excitement of the brand new 11-kilometre long ride.
She says when politicians first started working on this, people said “don’t built it, no one will come, the trains will run empty.” Clark says the Evergreen extension plays a role in densification in the region, and people will flock to the new line.
Clark estimates that 70,000 daily riders will hop aboard the Evergreen by 2021 – and she says that may be a conservative estimate.
It was also noted throughout the opening announcements that the addition of the Evergreen extension makes Metro Vancouver’s SkyTrain system the largest fully-automated, rapid transit system in the world.