I’ve been here in Vancouver for a week staying in White Rock about an hour south of the city. And I’m using public transportation to get around. Long time Vancouverites warned me not to rent a car. Having a car, they said, would be more trouble than it’s worth. Roads are constantly being blocked off to accommodate Olympic festivities and parking can be hard to find. I followed their advice and opted to take the new light rail line and bus.
It’s been enjoyable not driving. The lines haven’t been bad. And I’ve had some interesting conversations. I’ve hardly had to wait more than ten minutes for a bus and even less for the train. That is until today.
I work out of the unaccredited media center in Robson Square. It’s fine accommodations except for one major challenge. Robson Square has become a major party scene with its new ice rink, extravagant nightly light show and a zip line running across the plaza. It’s a true circus and it’s tough dodging around baby strollers, gawkers and the like.
The crowds extend two blocks away to the Canada Line where I get on the train at city center. The escalator and stairs were blocked tonight and I was detoured around the station. It took more than half hour before I boarded a train for Bridgeport Station to catch a bus. One woman kept saying over and over again “This is just crazy. Crazy!” No one’s really used to this. But a spontaneous person yelling “Go Canada Go” creates a ripple effect through the crowd and soon everyone in the line is cheering.
The irony is that driving actually wouldn’t be that bad. The roads are clear. Everyone is on the train or on a bus. Don’t mistake me. I’m not whining. I’m actually impressed. Local residents and tourists have embraced mass transit for the world’s largest sporting event.
Sure it requires patience and now extra planning for the lines. But the system seems to work. I’m also learning new skills like how to keep my balance standing up in a bus for an hour. It’s sort of like riding a skateboard, or doing squats on a wobble board at the gym.