Canada - Vancouver


As noted on the Seattle page, we visited Vancouver as part of a trip to both cities in April 2002. As the two are only 150 miles apart, the opportunity is too great to miss.

Vancouver had a fleet of 245 E900 trolleybuses, delivered in 1982 and 1983. Hence they are virtually all identical, apart from livery variations. The main ones are: white body with red waist stripe and red dash, white with a much broader blue/yellow/blue waist stripe which dips down to the bottom of the front dash, all-over white and a few all-over adverts.

For 20-year old vehicles, they looked to be in good condition. There has been approval granted for replacement trolleys, but at the time of our visit, no decision had been made on the supplier or even the form these would take (but see last paragraph below). The undertaking operated 13 trolleybus routes totalling around 300km and these operate substantially on a typical American grid-pattern, although there are notable exceptions. The popular SkyTrain is being extended and this will probably affect trolleybus routes in the east when it is finished.

Downtown has a section of Transit-only street and this provides the great pleasure of seeing virtually nothing but trolleys passing through! The junction of Granville and Pender Streets is host to all trolleybus routes except the 9 (which is the only route not to touch downtown), so this is an excellent spot for watching trolleys pass or turn through the complex overhead.

We returned in 2006 to see the first of the new fleet of New Flyer trolleybuses, pictures of this visit start here. We then flew on to Edmonton, a difficult place to get to, being well inland, but worth the visit for the trolleybus system. Pictures of this town are on their own page.

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Three  E900's, in standard red and white livery, wait at Alma Loop. This is a short working on route 9 on the way to the University of British Columbia (UBC).
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2831 and 2947 at UBC. Here, the 4, 9 and 10 meet before returning on their respective routes. 2947 is the last of the fleet.
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2809 on route 20 crosses the 19 on a brilliant sunny day; nevertheless there is snow on the mountains beyond North Vancouver in the background. The 19 is the only route which doesn't follow the normal N-S or E-W pattern, instead running diagonally SE out of the city.
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2809 joins one of its colleagues at the end of the 20. The body resemblance with San Francisco Flyers and Seattle AM Generals can be seen here. The rear end and window style (including the small one opposite the middle doors) are all the same. The main differences occur on the fronts.
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Hastings Terminus. 2787, 2745 and 2936 rest before travelling back downtown. Hastings has extra sets of Express wires down the middle of the road, but they are little used.
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2814 has crossed to the Express wires in order to make the turn up route 7 to return to Oakridge Depot. In order to do so it will have negotiated 7 frogs and crossings here!
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Oakridge Depot on a Sunday. The population here and the lack of vehicles out led me to believe that there was no operation on a Sunday. In fact there was a Fun Run going on in town which had led to curtailment of some routes. The white dots on the road are used to guide drivers through junctions by steering the bus so that the horn in the centre of the steering wheel follows the dots.
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Another day at Oakridge when all but these trolleys (and the ones in storage) were out. This shot shows the old style of paintwork around the destination screen. The black surround was removed on re-paint as it made the destination more difficult to read.
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2851 and 2775 at Nanaimo Station terminus - the end of route 7. Just before this terminus (and that of route 16 not far away) are a set of linking wires to the 19. This enables these routes to run on and off to Oakridge Depot. All North-South routes can do this as they all cross the old route 41 (now diesel operated) on which Oakridge is situated. The 7 and 16 have to use a short length of the 19 to do this.
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2799 and 2837 meet up at the Marpole Loop, where the 8 and the 17 have a common terminus out of town. It is the nearest trolleybuses get to the airport, but regrettably not close enough to walk! This shot shows the two main contrasting styles of livery; the rarer third form was all-over white.
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Broadside study of 2741 on Broadway.
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Typical southern terminus in the suburbs. 2710 arrives to pick up passengers to return downtown.
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Granville Street Transit-only road. This passes through the heart of Downtown Vancouver and is great for trolley-watching. There are 7 trolleybuses in this view!
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A similar location to the last shot with 2867, 2730 and 2803 in view. At the junction up ahead, all routes except the 9 pass through.
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Granville and Robson intersection. Another great spot for trolley-watching as several routes pass or turn here. 2758 on a 15-Cambie crosses Granville. 2738 on a 5-Robson, one of two with experimental Kiepe trolleygear, will turn right here.
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At Granville and Davie the overhead is only two turns short of a Grand Union, although not all of them are regularly used. Here 2912 on a 16 off to 29th St. Station and 2728 on a 5 heading for downtown prepare to negotiate the junction.
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2943 crosses Granville Bridge on a nice sunny evening, with some of the downtown high-rise blocks bordering English Bay in the background. Both bridges featured high-speed running by the trolleybuses.

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The view from room 619 in the Shaugnessy Village hotel as dusk falls on the city. Granville Bridge is to the left and Cambie Bridge to the right. The mountains of North Vancouver, with their snow-covered ski-slopes can be seen beyond.

2006: New on this visit was the Stanley Park route, which had re-opened after road works had been completed. Also new was VTC (Vancouver Transit Centre), which was the new larger depot replacing OTC (Oakridge Transit Centre), although the latter was retained for passing out the new fleet of trolleybuses, and storage of historic trolleys. All the operational trolleybuses were moved from OTC to VTC while we were there. The new fleet were New Flyer trolleybuses, both two-axle and articulated, although the artics were not due for some time. By the time we arrived some 20 or so two-axle had been planned to have been delivered, but in the event only two had made it! This was disappointing but we managed to see them in limited operation, and also managed to go out on a driver training run on one of them!


On the right is 2755 at the Stanley Park stop on a very sunny afternoon in September 2006. The quiet, fumeless trolleybuses complement the peace of the park very well.

2894 beside one of the shelters in the Park.

2912 leaving Metrotown at the other end of the route, destined for the Park.

Here, 2770 turns off 41st heading back for OTC at the end of its shift.

A study of OTC with trolleybuses lining up after their day's work on 2nd September. Just visible on the right are a few preserved motorbuses.

An attraction we didn't get to see on the first trip was the Downtown Historic Railway (DHR) featuring interurbans from the early 1900's. Here is 1207 at the Granville Island stop almost under Granville Bridge.

Our first view of the New Flyers. Here are both 2101 and 2102 parked in the new VTC before it was opened, and the rest of the fleet joined them. As it wasn't yet in use, the security guard wouldn't let us in, so this shot is through the fence.

By the 4th September, many of the E900 trolleybuses had been moved to VTC. Here they are starting to fill the lines of outside storage, this time taken from the gate. We were getting a bit fed up with having to view everything from afar so the following day we got a driver going into service to get us in. We were introduced to the Chief who allocated us a guide. We were obviously the very first foreign visitors to their new facility!

Preserved Brill 2040 standing at the edge of a very eerie and almost empty OTC. Apart from the Brill, there were just 8 E900's there, destined for scrap.

Here is 2101 (the prototype) standing in VTC yard. 2102 was in the workshops being attended to.

The New Flyer and Kiepe logos on the side.

Above and Right: 2101 heading back to VTC after one of the driver training runs.