My Experience with the Lower Mainland Skytrain VIP Service:
I was recently able to travel the Vancouver area Skytrain System independently, and with confidence and grace to attend the GTT meeting in New Westminster hosted by Blind Beginnings at their offices at 227 6th Street thanks to the VIP assistance services offered by TransLink staff. It was my first attempt at travelling on public transit alone in the Lower Mainland, and it came to pass because I asked Rob Sleath about the VIP assistance that I had heard about, but never inquired after before this most recent trip. Here’s how it all went.
I arrived at the South Terminal of YVR on a flight from the Qualicum Beach Airport and took their 7:30 AM Shuttle service to the YVR Canada Line Skytrain Station. A fellow Shuttle rider assisted me to the bottom of the escalator, whereupon I called the Control Room for the Canada Line portion of the Skytrain system, 604-247-5703. An attendant showed up soon thereafter and guided me to the next train heading for the Water Front Station, and she called ahead to arrange someone to meet me there to guide me to the Expo Line Station. I’m not sure if they coordinated with the Expo Line folks, so I called their control room just to make sure, 604-520-5518. She turned me over to an attendant who works that line mid-way there, and he once again ensured that I was on the next train heading for New Westminster Station, and he also called ahead to arrange for someone to meet me at that end. The final stage was the biggest surprise to me, as that attendant guided me through the Station and on to the Bus Loop so that I could catch the next #106 to my final destination, where I arrived at about 9:30 AM.
I was hugely impressed with the services rendered and with the timing of it all. At no point did I have to wait all that long for them to arrive, and each of them were respectful and courteous.
If anyone is planning a trip to this area and plan to use the Skytrain system please don’t hesitate to call on them for support. Store those two numbers in your phone before you leave home. I must also note that the noise on the 30-year old Expo Line trains is considerable, so hearing the Station announcements was hit-and-miss. I turned on my Blind Square App just to make sure I stayed in touch with my location along the way. It seems this 30-year old line is getting to be a little worse for wear, so be sure to select a seat under a speaker for your own security and confidence.
I really want to thank all the advocates who have ensured that we have this great level of support should we choose to access it. I can foresee a time when I might do some travelling on this system completely independently, however for now I won’t ever hesitate again to ask for the help I need.