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Ranking the Expo Line Stations, From Worst to Best

Is there a more ingrained part of the fabric of Vancouver than the Skytrain?  Since it’s construction in the leadup to Expo86, the Skytrain has gone from a novelty of the future, to the main artery that pumps people in and out of the heart of the city.  Prompt and quick train service, generally clean cars, and above all else, convenient.

However, as a wise man once said; Not all train stations are created equal.

Today, we’re gonna rank the stations on the Skytrain’s Expo Line.  For simplicities sake, we’re not going to include the Coquitlam extension, nor the hypothetical Langley extensions, as they don’t exist yet.  Strictly King George to Waterfront here.  Let’s rank the stations on the bloodline of Vancouver culture, from worst to best.

#20. King George – There’s a phrase used in transit called “end of line syndrome”, where, due to the fact that it’s the last place the train stops, the station serves as a massive hub.  The problem with that is… King George has no parking.  In a situation where it’s the closest station for more that three quarters of the population of Surrey, with about 30 parking spots, it’s exclusively used by people getting dropped off by family, or transit users.  This could very well change in seven years when the Langley extension is finished, but as for now, it’s the worst station on the Expo Line.

#19. Nanaimo – Does anyone actually use Nanaimo?  It’s not on one of the major bus routes.  It’s not near anything of note.  It’s just a stop between Commercial-Broadway and 29th Avenue, which isn’t much better, but we’ll get to it.  Unless you live within three blocks of the station, you’ll probably never find yourself getting on or off at Nanaimo.

#18. 29th Avenue – Everything I said about Nanaimo applies here, except there’s a park across the street at least, so you might be able to play some pickup football with your buddies there.  Other than that, another low-event station.

#17. 22nd Street – People get on to the bus to go to across the Queensboro Bridge.  That’s why the station exists.

#16. Edmonds – You can still see the ties in the ground from the old BC Hydro Railway line that discontinued service in the 1990s.  That’s gotta be worth something, right?

#15. Joyce-Collingwood – It’s on the R4 Rapid Bus route.  That’s pretty well the only thing of note about Joyce-Collingwood.  Not a middle of nowhere station, but not a point of interest either.

#14. Surrey Central – It’s big.  It’s busy.  There’s tons of transit options.  But Surrey Central just feels… blah, ya know?  Located in the middle of Surrey’s crime territory, the area isn’t overly clean, but the buses all run there, so it makes it a better option than King George.  Certainly not a nice place to be though.

#13. Gateway – A bit of a redundant station, due to it’s proximity to Surrey Central, but it has a major advantage.  You can see the BC Lions Practice Field from the train.  It’s a pretty cool thing to see a professional football team practice while you’re on your commute, and that’s what puts it above Surrey Central.

#12. Royal Oak – One of the many stations carried over from the old Intraurban Rail Line, Royal Oak one of the quieter stations on the line, but doesn’t suffer from not being near anything like previous entries on this list.

#11. Columbia – The last station before you cross the river, or the first after you do, depending on how you look at it.  Columbia is the transfer station for people wanting to go out towards Production Way, so there’s constantly people getting on and off trains there.  Cold, damp, cool vibes.  Columbia lands juuuuuust outside the top 10.

#10. Commercial-Broadway – The spot where the Expo Line meets the Millennium Line, it’s always busy.  Always something going on.  But due to it’s proximity on two different lines, albeit separated by a hallway and some staircases, it sees constant traffic, basically seeing a train every minute and a half.

#9. Patterson – Patterson is a hilarious station, because it’s only 20 seconds away from Metrotown, there’s no businesses or anything of note around it, but it’s just fantastic.  Right on top of a massive park, down the street from a huge tennis court, it’s the “recreation station” of the Expo Line.  Plus, you can sometimes find free street parking, if you’re lucky.

#8. Granville – Two Words.  SCARY ESCALATOR.  Granville lets you out onto Granville Street, the home of Vancouver nightlife, but getting up to street level is a harrowing experience.  The escalators are so steep, you’re constantly convinced you’re going to fall backwards.  It’s a shock it hasn’t happened more.  But it’s still a very nice spot, and one of the few underground stations on the line.

#7 Main Street-Science World – The oldest station on the line, first built for the Skytrain’s public demonstrations in the mid 1980s, Main Street-Science World is in a great location, across the street from long distance rail and bus at Pacific Central Station, across the street from Science World, False Creek, and other great spots in one of the city best areas.  It would rank higher, but is held back by crime rates around the station.

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#6. Scott Road – The best of the four Surrey stations, Scott Road has the biggest Park-and-Ride on the line, so naturally, it sees some of the heaviest traffic on the line.  Basically, 60% of the transit users in Surrey use Scott Road, myself included.  There’s nothing like seeing the sea of people exit the Surrey bound train at Scott Road.  Pure madness.

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#5. Metrotown – The sheer amount of things to do at Metrotown makes it land a high spot on this list.  It’s also a bus hub, being the centre of transit down to BCIT, EA Sports, and much more.  The old skyway bridge connecting the station to the mall never being reconnected following the stations renovations brings it down a spot or two, but it’s still top five.

#4. Burrard  – The best of the “Underground” stations.  Burrard brings you out in the heart of Downtown, but doesn’t have an escalator that makes you think you’re gonna topple over backwards.  It’s a prime location, and it’s also quite pretty in the summertime.

#3. New Westminster – The original terminus station for the Skytrain.  New West is in a gorgeous location, right next to the New West Quay on the Fraser, there’s a nice little shopping district built in the station, so it’s a great one stop shop.  There’s also an Old Spaghetti Factory up the street, so it’s a winner of a station.  Top three easy.

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#2. Waterfront – It’s a 100 year old train station.  What’s not to love?  It’s absolutely gorgeous in there, connections to the Canada Line, West Coast Express and Sea Bus are right there, or you could walk outside into Gastown.

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#1. Stadium-Chinatown – Due to it’s location, Stadium-Chinatown is easily the best Skytrain Station on the Expo Line.  With exits leading either down to street level at Rogers Arena, or up to either Chinatown on the side exit, or right into the bustles of Downtown Vancouver if you go all the way to the top.  There’s also nothing like the train ride home from Stadium-Chinatown after a Canucks win or a concert.  Just jam packed with happy people, there’s not much like it.

Nothing symbolizes Vancouver Culture quite like the Skytrain, as it connects the people to the city.  But there’s clearly a hierarchy of the stations, and I’m glad I could share it with you.

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