Monday, February 8, 2010

How to get around Vancouver during the Winter Games

As a transportation planner, I watch the Olympics from the perspective of how well the transportation system works as opposed to how well the athletes do. The Vancouver Olympic Games will be especially interesting to watch, since VANOC (Vancouver Olympic Committee) and the City of Vancouver have stayed true to a multi-modal transportation system that provides limited emphasis on the automobile while investing heavily in alternative transportation modes.

Although there will be additional parking available (managed by Lanier/Impark, biking, walking, and shuttles will play a greater role than ever before. Here are some key players to look for in the coming days.

Canada Line: If you have just landed at Vancouver International Airport (YVR), this is the cheapest and quickest option. There is a station right at the Airport, and a train will whisk you away into downtown Vancouver in a mere 20 minutes. Detailed trip planning here.

Olympic Line: Connecting Granville Island, a key entertainment center for the 2010 Winter Games, and the Olympic/Paralympic Village Vancouver, the Olympic Line Streetcar service will extend Vancouver’s regional transit network before and during the Games. More streetcar info here.

Trolley Buses, Expo and Millennium Line SkyTrains: The bus and SkyTrain network is quite extensive within the city of Vancouver. The farther east you go, the dicier the service becomes, especially for trolley buses. For more information on bus re-routes, consult the bus re-routes guide for the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics.

Sea Bus: The Sea Bus passenger ferry runs from Waterfront Station in Downtown Vancouver and connects to the Lonsdale Quay in North Vancouver. A must-visit for anyone visiting Vancouver, with the views simply breathtaking from the water. More info here.

Taxi: Always a good option during these types of events.

Walking: Yes, good old fashioned walking may be the best way to explore Vancouver (especially with the mild winter weather they've had of late). It is an extremely pedestrian friendly city and one of the most walkable. If you are staying within the downtown core, rain or shine, you should walk to and from events (Pavilions, Ziptrek zipline etc...). Not only are there specific pedestrian corridors for the Olympics (Robson Street, Hamilton, Granville Street), you'll also see some of the most beautiful people on the continent.

Automobile: If you plan on driving into Vancouver and during the Winter Olympics, consult the 2010 transportation plan: Street plan and mapsOpening and Closing ceremony transportation guide

Here is a great article about getting to and around the Olympics in Vancouver.

Let the Games begin.

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