SkyTrain was first built to showcase the transporation theme of Expo '86
If you've ever taken the Expo line on Metro Vancouver's SkyTrain system, you've probably experienced the same frustration I have when it comes to your cellular phone service. Whether you go through the downtown, Edmonds or 29th Avenue tunnels, it's quite likely you have lost your connection while doing so. That's because unlike the newer Canada Line, it's older brother the Expo Line does not have built-in cellular transponders. That translates into a lot of "dead zones". Well, it looks like that might be about to change.
About a week ago I contacted Ken Hardie, TransLink's spokesperson, to ask why nothing has been done to ensure the Expo Line is wirelessly connected from one end to the other. Although he didn't have a chance to return my call, we did have a very interesting exchange on Twitter a few days ago. It went something like this.
KenHardie: Surrey folk interested in transit expansion: B-Line on the King George Blvd and a new route from White Rock to Langley.
@KenHardie but will you ever install cellular coverage in the downtown, Edmonds and 29th ave SkyTrain tunnels. Cda Line is better.
@CityCaucus Yes! Working on proposals now! (Sorry, I've owed you a call on this for over a week)
@KenHardie good to hear. A lot of transit users will be thrilled to hear about full access to Internet and fewer more dropped calls!
One of the things I really enjoy about riding the Canada Line is the fact I can continue using my smart phone deep below ground. That's because I use my travel time on transit to make calls, research future posts and read up on the latest tweets from the people I regularly follow. However, this was not always possible on the Expo Line because of the dead zones which regularly kill cellular service.
I was thrilled to hear from Hardie in his tweet that TransLink is looking at proposals to improve wireless service on SkyTrain. This is very much unlike my recent experience in Toronto when I took their subway system. I was amazed to find out that as soon as you go underground, you are basically cut off from civilization above. There is absolutely no cellular or internet access in the subway in Toronto. Hard to believe that there's no underground wireless in the centre of the universe!
I'm obviously not familiar with the inner workings of the "proposal" that Hardie refers to in his tweet, but if it results in all of us getting access to wireless service deep beneath downtown Vancouver, I'll be one happy customer. Now if only Toronto could be this advanced and come up with a plan that would bring their transit system into the 21st century. I'm told many of the TTC stations even lack elevators which cut off access to the disabled.
I've been harping on this issue for years and I want to give kudos to TransLink for taking some action on this front. Making Metro Vancouver's entire transit system accessible to cellular service will not only encourage more working people to take transit to their meetings, it's just the smart thing to do. What do you think? Should making SkyTrain fully accessible to cellular service be a priority?
Tweet your thoughts to @CityCaucus, hashtag #skytrainwireless.
- Post by Daniel