Metrotown SkyTrain station passengers are in for a shakeup of their daily commute starting early 2014.
TransLink finally secured funding to upgrade the station and bus loop as part of a $153-million renovation to seven Expo Line stations. It requested proposals for design and construction engineering services on Tuesday.
But it’s not going to be a smooth transition for the region’s second busiest station.
Either Metrotown will close completely for 15 months – the cheaper option, according to a cost review – or passengers will deal with construction for 28 months.
If the station is shut down, a temporary station could be built immediately east of Metrotown, according to the request for proposals (RFP). It would not be accessible by elevator, so passengers who can’t use stairs would need to use Royal Oak or Patterson stations, according to the RFP.
Alternatives to “Metrotown East” are bus bridges to neighbouring stations, alterations to existing bus services or, of course, the longer, more costly renovation period.
SkyTrain spokeswoman Jennifer Siddon stressed the project is just in the design phase and each option will be weighed carefully to come up with the “best plan for everybody.” Public hearings will take place before construction begins in 2014, she said.
“There would be some savings to shut down, do it all at once, but we have to balance that with what are the implications for our passengers,” Siddon said. “How are we going to ensure that the folks that work within the area can get to work?”
Regardless, the renovations are badly needed as the station currently operates over capacity and has “significant access and accessibility challenges,” according to the RFP.
Passengers at the bustling station at noon Wednesday all supported renovations, but were divided over the potential shut down.
“As more people go shopping, I do think it would be a good investment to renovate the station,” university student Abigail Pelaez said. “As a pedestrian, I would choose the temporary station so I’d encounter less construction.”
“I should at least be able to get here,” BCIT student Jeremy Wildsmith said. “I don’t think you can shut down the station that so many rely on.”