TRANSPORTATION: West Coast Express is a ‘beautiful’ alternative to Port Mann Bridge

All aboard! If only the West Coast Express, seen here heading east out of downtown Vancouver, had just a few more scheduled runs. Ian Lindsay/ PNG

MANPREET GREWAL
VANCOUVER DESI

With the Port Mann Bridge toll looming, even one more run of the West Coast Express will start presenting itself as a serious alternative to driving.

It is not only a stress-free way to make it into the big city but, in a strange way, is a means of connectivity even if it is with strangers who you neither owe anything to nor expect anything from.

As a resident of Abbotsford, I frequently travel to Vancouver for meetings. Because of the limited schedule of the West Coast Express, I am not able to take advantage of it for a two to three hour meeting so driving to Vancouver has just become a habit.

But this one time, I had already driven from Burnaby the night before and I was tired. It was an all-day meeting, so the train could work.

My son who studies at SFU, Burnaby and often uses the train to come home on weekends, told me that it was a relaxing, scenic drive and I wouldn’t be fighting traffic. I was sold.

The 12-minute drive to Mission felt like nothing, the ticket purchase was a matter of three minutes and soon I had hopped on to my brand-new experience. Although when you start in Mission, you have a lot of seating choices, the novice in me prompted me to slip into the first window seat close to the entrance. I saw other people get on the train and make their way confidently on and disappear into other corridors and carriages. I was curious to explore but stuck to my seat with all my paraphernalia, including briefcase and handbag beside me.

The train slowly startedt to fill up at each stop and soon I began to get a sense that the West Coast had, albeit for just a little over an hour per trip, built little communities on board. (My son had warned me that I would be exposed to the regular travellers’ cliques and I could feel a little left out. “Don’t take it personally,” he had laughed.

I saw people getting on and saving spots for others. Others would join at another spot looking for their regular fellow passengers and making their way to them. The group of four sitting close to where I was seemed very excited to see each other. They did a check in on how their recipes had worked the night before, an update on a sick pet and shared wedding plans for a daughter. It all seemed like a follow-up to discussions that had happened the day or days before.

There was a lot of chatter and laughter from another little pocket which also seemed to have built friendships just by being on the train. They were pouring over an iPad and checking out photos of someone’s family members.

There were some folks like me who hadn’t quite made a connection or were not a regular passenger. They were either reading a newspaper, on their Blackberries or laptops, or catching up on their sleep but everyone seemed relaxed. It was far removed from the stressed-out drivers I passed on my regular commute.

It is also a beautiful ride. The train has an attractive and comfortable interior and is on a track that runs alongside the Fraser River for many stretches of the route. There are not too many stops. I was in Vancouver in 70 minutes. Another four minutes walking got me to my destination. I was a lot fresher for my meeting than the times when I have fought traffic, navigating the one-way streets of Vancouver to get to my destination in a roundabout way, and frantically looked for parking.

On the way back, I was excited to repeat the experience and ready to engage a bit more. The train starting in Vancouver was packed. I met four different people: one who was riding all the way back to Abbotsford, one who got off in Coquitlam and another who boarded in Coquitlam. Another joined us for the last stretch from Maple Ridge to Mission. It was easy enough to talk about the weather, peoples’ reason for commuting and their thoughts on the West Coast Express, and where people worked.

The 70 minutes flew by.

I had such a beautiful experience, I promised myself that I would do it again soon. It has been two months now but I haven’t been back. The times don’t work for me most of the time. If the train had one or two more runs between its last departure from Mission and first return from Vancouver, it would be such an attractive means to get to Vancouver.

Especially after my first 20 free trips over the Port Mann are over.

Manpreet Grewal is a freelance writer based in Abbotsford. Email her at manpreetgrewal@shaw.ca

Tags:





Featured

Surrey-New Westminster

Six-lane Pattullo Bridge should go between Coquitlam and Surrey: New Westminster mayor Wayne Wright

THEREAS MCMANUS ROYAL CITY RECORD METRO VANCOUVER — If Coquitlam and Surrey want a six-lane replacement for the Pattullo Bridge, they can have it, says…
Continue Reading »

mountie charged for assault

Surrey RCMP officer charged with off-duty concert assault

TOM ZYTARUK SURREY NOW A Surrey RCMP officer is scheduled to appear in Vancouver provincial court next month, accused of assault in connection with an…
Continue Reading »

jet mystery

Malaysia Airlines: Material that washed ashore in western Australia being examined in missing jet search

ROD MCGUIRK THE ASSOCIATED PRESS CANBERRA, Australia — Unidentified material that washed ashore in southwestern Australia and is being examined for any link to the…
Continue Reading »

LOCAL NEWS

Surrey-New Westminster

Six-lane Pattullo Bridge should go between Coquitlam and Surrey: New Westminster mayor Wayne Wright

THEREAS MCMANUS ROYAL CITY RECORD METRO VANCOUVER — If Coquitlam and Surrey want a six-lane replacement for the Pattullo Bridge, they can have it, says…
Continue Reading »

mountie charged for assault

Surrey RCMP officer charged with off-duty concert assault

TOM ZYTARUK SURREY NOW A Surrey RCMP officer is scheduled to appear in Vancouver provincial court next month, accused of assault in connection with an…
Continue Reading »

Surrey First

Surrey mayor fires back, tells Barinder Rasode ‘she’s misleading the public’ about her safety concerns

AMY REID SURREY NOW SURREY — Since Coun. Barinder Rasode announced her departure from the Surrey First slate last week, Mayor Dianne Watts has yet to…
Continue Reading »

Don't Miss...

Mouse deer

World’s smallest deer that’s more like a ‘mouse’ born at a Spain zoo

CEN AGENCY The world’s smallest deer – more like a mouse – with a heritage stretching back millions of years has been born at a…
Continue Reading »

Rape-Gang rape-crime against women

Indians view rape as ‘very big problem’: Poll

MATTHEW PENNINGTON THE ASSOCIATED PRESS WASHINGTON — A new poll shows that Indians view rape as a big problem in their country and think the…
Continue Reading »

Desi-bhoot bangla-China-Asia

Gallery: No one wants these luxury villas in ‘The City of the Dead’

CEN AGENCY These are the luxury homes that no-one wants in a place locals call ‘The City of the Dead’. Over 100 villas here have…
Continue Reading »

India-Leopard

Video: Leopard causes panic in Indian city as it springs from the roof, chases rescue workers, bites a man

Urbanization pushing residents and wild animals closer together CANADA.COM A leopard burst through a tiled roof before attacking a group of men, biting one in…
Continue Reading »

This undated handout image courtesy of the Placer Dome gold mining company, shows gold in bars.AFP FILES/AFP/Getty Images

Indian doctors shocked to find 12 gold bars inside businessman’s stomach

VANCOUVER DESI New Delhi doctors were “shocked” to find out a 63-year-old businessman complaining of abdominal pain earlier this month had 12 gold bars  inside…
Continue Reading »


Bollywood Latest

Salman Khan-Jacqueline Fernandez

London bus drives off Warsaw Bridge causing panic, turns out to be a Bollywood shoot (w/video, photos)

CEN AGENCY Polish police received panicked calls after this London double-decker bus drove off a bridge, and plummeted into a river in the Polish capital…
Continue Reading »

Music-Bollywood-desi sex symbol

Priyanka Chopra’s latest single ‘I Can’t Make You Love Me’ already a hit on iTunes in 24 hours

IANS Mumbai – The going is great for actor-singer Priyanka Chopra. She is out with her third solo single “I can’t make you love me”,…
Continue Reading »

condom-ads-Durex-sex-booty shake

Video: Bollywood actor and Durex brand ambassador Ranveer Singh urges people to try ‘the Rex’

IANS New Delhi – Actor Ranveer Singh, who has done bold scenes in movies like “Goliyon Ki Rasleela Ram-Leela” and “Band Baaja Baaraat”, is now…
Continue Reading »