Stepping into Canada and into the city of Vancouver provided me a whole new feeling of the environment. The fresh air and clean water made me fell in love with this place, as compared to Seattle. When I first arrived in Vancouver, I see this place as a big city. I feel that this city is less crowded as compared to SF and thus has more land and resources for individuals. The streets are pretty wide since Vancouver is a big city. People travel around the city through many different forms of transportation, such as by car, bike, bus, train, etc. Within all these forms of transportation, public transportation is significant and essential in maintaining a city's sustainability.
TransLink, Metro Vancouver's transportation network, is one of the main transit agencies in the city. Over the past years, this transit department agency participated in many of the city's major rapid transit line projects, which allowed people to commute faster on a daily basis to their workplace and other destinations. Some of these projects include the UBC line, the Expo Line, and the Evergreen Line. Currently, the Evergreen Line is still under the planning and construction process. The idea for this rapid transit project rooted from the city’s desire to create a Skytrain extension, which will connect tri-cities to downtown, providing more convenience for those who rely on or take public transit. One of the most commonly used public transportation is the Skytrain, which is also what we mostly rely on to get us to places in Vancouver. Compared to my experience with public transportation in SF, where I take a variety of public transportation such as the muni metro, bus, and sometimes BART, in Vancouver Skytrain is our main source of transportation that brings us to places conveniently. Skytrain in Vancouver can somewhat be compared to BART in our Bay Area. They both have many car trains that connect altogether that forms a single, long train. A slight difference between the two would be that Skytrain travels both on top of the bridge and underground, while BART travels mainly through the subway. Skytrain is also fast and reliable, in which it can travel to far-distanced places in a short amount of time. The fact that Skytrain can bring us to our destinations punctually with its accurate arrival time is something that Vancouver’s transportation system favors me.
In Michelle’s tour, we also learned that TransLink is now planning to allow its passengers to use something called the compass card whenever they take public transportation. Similar to SF’s clipper card, this new compass card in Vancouver is designed to be used in the same way: to tap the card when you enter the station to ride the train, which increases convenience and efficiency. With compass card, passengers can also tap their cards to see how many zones they have traveled. This new system of paying for public transit is still in the testing progress, and currently the existing compass cards are only used by TransLink employees, although it had been outreached to college students and people who receive subsidized money. The TransLink agency has been trying to improve its transit system based upon the opinions from the public. Surveys were conducted, however the issue is the decline of the response rates. The challenging part for the authorities is planning at regional level, where they have to figure out the amount of transit service that people want.
After Michelle and Nat’s tour which gave us the opportunity to travel the city and to walk through the Strathcona neighborhood respectively, we continued on our journey of food court exploration and settled to eat lunch at a food court (again) inside a shopping center. This is our second, consecutive (and hopefully the last) meal of food court food since we have arrived in Vancouver. We also explored around the shopping center after lunch, and I have found the taste that I haven’t had in three years. Trying a new flavor drink of Tim Hortons is a great way to revisit this cafe shop that I last tried on my last visit to Canada. However, I somewhat regret my choice of the chocolate drink, as it was too sweet and that I should’ve ordered a lemonade instead, but nonetheless it was worth to buy a drink that I couldn’t get in SF. We thanked Michelle and Nat for their time as we were heading to the False Creek in the Olympic Village area. After they head back to work, we continued to explore the area with our observation toolkit. Although it was a sunny day, shades in certain areas (may have) helped to keep us away from the sun (at least for a certain period of time). We also took this time period as an opportunity to take a break and rest for a while, after a long day of exposure to the sun. I have noticed the Olympic Village as a very nice open space with it being both pedestrian- and cyclist-friendly through the area’s designs and features.
As the day proceeds to the time around sunset (you may assume that the darkness will begin to arise but it didn’t), we traveled through the Seabus, which in my opinion is similar to the concept of a water taxi, to the Lonsdale Quay Market, which is located in the Northern part of Vancouver. The Seabus brought us to the entrance of the market, and we started our exploration indoors. When we first walked inside, something that grabbed our attention was the giant chess and checker pieces as board games on the floor. Most of us stayed in the area and played with the pieces for quite a while. Then with the remaining time we had, we walked around the market with the heart to explore. Before we left the market, we brought some food from the local McDonald’s, since most of us felt hungry. For many of us, it was our first time trying maple flavored food from McDonald’s. We took the Seabus back to the other side of the harbor and the Skytrain back to the Richmond neighborhood, where we are staying as our home for these five days in Vancouver. The time now is long past the usual sunset, however darkness has still not yet invaded the sky (which you may find surprising). As we were searching for local restaurants to have dinner, we have finally settled to eat at a “real” restaurant. I guess we were glad that we didn’t had to consume a third meal of food court and finally had our first “real” meal in Vancouver. In the end, we were satisfied with the food as it came in large portions and overfed most of us.
The sky finally started to turn dark as we go home. We have discovered a new fact that the sun in Vancouver sets at around 10 pm at night in the summer, which is pretty fascinating and can conserve a lot of energy!
- Shirley Tsang