December 14, 2007

SkyTrain Switch

There is usually a 2 to 1 ratio between Expo and Millennium Line SkyTrains leaving from Waterfront Station in Vancouver. An Expo Line train terminates in Surrey while a Millennium Line train does a partial loop through the suburbs before returning to Vancouver. Even though I am hoping for a Millennium Line train to saunter down the tracks, usual an Expo Line train comes my way. As there is a distinctly small chance of a Millennium Line train overtaking the Expo Line trains that have preceded it on the same track, there are two temporally equivalent actions I can take:
  • Get on the present train and switch to my desired one at a later point in time
  • Let this train leave without placing myself within its welcoming interior and wait for the correct one to arrive eventually
One of these two options allows me to reduce my overall risk of being stuck in transit limbo. I want to be as close to my final destination as possible before there is a delay inducing incident aboard a train, at a station, or on the tracks itself. Any or all of these events will happen at least once a week to a daily commuter. My decision then becomes easy. I will get on the Expo Line train and ride it until Columbia Station, after which it will veer off towards Surrey, while I will await a Millennium Line train once more.

One winter evening, I nonchalantly boarded an Expo Line SkyTrain departing from Waterfront Station. I knew it was an Expo Line train since I required a Millennium Line one and I always check the display to see where the train is heading. This information is reconfirmed aboard the train when a soothing female voice announces which line the train is operating on. Usually I power down and go on standby mode until Columbia Station arrives, but on this enchanted night I became aware of my surroundings at an earlier stop as an ARNABabe was standing at the gates of my train compartment in anticipation of going to Surrey. The soothing female voice once again spoke, but this time she mentioned that the train was a Millennium Line one. I was still groggy at the time so the impact of the announcement had not yet dawned on me. The ARNABabe frowned and decided not to embark (having not spotted me). The sliding doors slowly closed and my train sped up, leaving her but a memory.

I was not completely disheartened though as I had discovered I was on a Millennium Line train and would not have to switch trains again. My journey continued, with each successive stop being accompanied by the announcement that this was a Millennium Line train. All was well, until Columbia Station. Now the voice said that this was an Expo Line train. Befuddled, I exited the train and saw others hastily do so as well with sheepish looks on their faces. I decided that I had been right all along in my perception that I was traveling on board an Expo Line train. My conviction was weakened though as two successive Expo Line trains came within the next ten minutes. According to my carefully observed 2:1 Expo to Millennium ratio this should not have occurred as that would mean there were 3 Expo Line trains in a row. The first of the two Expo line trains contained the ARNABabe seated inside, which provided further proof that at some point in the past my train had definitely been a Millennium Line train as the only reason she did not get on was because she wanted to take a ride on the Expo Line. Several minutes later a real Millennium Line came and took me home, but the mystery of the switching SkyTrain was never solved. To this day I wonder where those fateful souls aboard the Millennium/Expo Line train eventually ended up.