Eat your heart out TTC subway riders

Post by Daniel Fontaine in


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


Who cares? You don't have coverage for 2 minutes in one place and 5 in another.

Who is going to pay for it? If it's the cell phone people, than whatever. Go a head.

But if it's Translink, screw that. There are better things for them to spend their money on.

And really, who can talk on the Expo line? The thing is so bloody loud.

As a very frequent transit user, one of my biggest pet peeves is getting stuck next to or near someone yakking away on their cell phone for the entirety of the trip.

I don't use my phone while on the system out of respect for others and Lord knows, I don't want to be subjected to having to listen to others conversations.

And when I say 'others', I mean getting stuck in the vicinity of one, two, three or more people all trying to talk on their cells, up and above the regular din of the system and the passengers.

Consideration for others seems to have gone out the window to self entitled behavior.

Aaaagh... Sorry, but CUT IT OFF ENTIRELY, what an impersonal self serving world we are in when you have to be standing on a train with the "inconsiderates" around you beaking into cells and hands free as though they are the special designate souls of the world where they are so sure that everyone about them is sure to be interested in their own personal ONE WAY BLARING....

Took the Amtrack to Seattle last week ( and yes, for sure not quite the same environment as Sky train) , but they have had the balls to direct cell phone users to the vestibules at the cars so one and all don't have to be involved in a users business or personal life. You can't imagine what a refreshing approach that was for many on the train even including my 2 always have to be connected business associates who took time to step away to make / take their life convenient / imperative calls.
Yes , it was based all around common courtesy and not about how important it might be to be immediately connected to ones own life drama at the expense of others.

Very classy that you worked in a jab at Toronto, there.

Even if you could get your wheelchair into the station, you'd never be able to fit in the rush hour subway, it's too packed.

Check out!

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