Renfrew-Collingwood Community News

News stories from the Renfrew-Collingwood community in East Vancouver

Skytrain 30 years ago

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Skytrain Upgrades January 2016

The east side of the Joyce Station where upgrades are taking place place. Photo courtesy of Loretta Houben


The year 1986 was the year of Expo, a world fair to celebrate Vancouver’s 100th birthday. The year many things changed in the Joyce Collingwood area.

For one thing, SkyTrain opened for service on December 11, 1985. Do you remember the excitement of riding for free that month? My husband and I tried it out one foggy day, travelling from Joyce Station to Metrotown Station. The huge mall wasn’t complete, and we got off at Patterson Station by mistake and decided to walk the rest of the way as the trains were so packed. We nearly got lost in the maze of old warehouse buildings which were still standing at that time.

Do you remember the fare was $1.15 for single zone and $2.20 for three zones for adults? And do you remember having to push a button to open the doors when the SkyTrain stopped, as not everyone got off at all stations?

What a change in the Collingwood area since then! Have you been keeping up with the new development planned for this area in the coming years? There have been a few open houses at Collingwood Neighbourhood House.

Exciting and innovative changes are coming for the Joyce SkyTrain Station, too! I live in the area, and since January 2016, the old exercise gym near the community gardens on Translink property has been taken down, along with a few trees including a lovely Kanzan cherry blossom tree, in order for equipment and mobile housing to be stored while the massive upgrades are done.

Loads of gravel have been put in to replace the boggy land along the old suburban pathway. An elevator for the east side will be installed, along with escalators and bike lockers.

SkyTrain’s name was coined for the BC Transit ALRT (advanced light rapid transit) system in 1986 because the first Expo line runs on an elevated guideway, giving passengers a scenic view of the city. Be sure to check out On Track: Early SkyTrain Project Film from 1983 on Youtube, provided by the Buzzer. Going to Town—1985 is another fantastic YouTube clip, showing the changing skyline of our city.

Work began on the SkyTrain line in the spring of 1982. I can remember the huge cement pillars going up in the Joyce area, and I was pleased that such a modern means of transportation was available, although doubtful about riding on a train without an actual person driving on board. In fact, when the trial run took place for free at Main Street station, one of my sisters refused to get on as she thought the train would fall off the track!

SkyTrain was such a new and novel idea, that a pamphlet was printed to show how to use it.  Please see:

If you have memories of SkyTrain and the way it’s affected your life, please share them with us. We’d love to read them. Email

Loretta Houben is a long-time resident of Collingwood. She coordinates the Seniors Connection page of the Renfrew-Collingwood Community News.

Copyright (c) 2016 Renfrew-Collingwood Community News

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