Expo 86 memories: the SkyTrain

Experts say the SkyTrain is one of Expo 86’s most recognizable legacies for the city.

The SkyTrain is the world's oldest 'driverless' rapid transit system

The SkyTrain was met with skepticism by some when construction first started in 1982.

Some experts say the SkyTrain is one of Expo 86's most significant legacies. 

It was built in time for the world exposition, perfect for the fair's theme of transportation and communication.

Initial skepticism

But the first automated rapid transit system in the world was initially met with skepticism by many people.

"The initial reaction to the SkyTrain was evenly divided," said John Atkin, a Vancouver historian.

Some advocated for something more familiar, a tram system on the ground instead. SkyTrain sounded like "science fiction" to many, said Atkin.

Main Street-Science World station of the SkyTrain, pictured here, was completed in 1985 for the Expo 86 fair in Vancouver. (City of Vancouver)

But he says the SkyTrain has had a positive and lasting impact on the region.

"It's proved over time to be incredibly popular and an important transportation resource."

The SkyTrain line started in downtown Vancouver and originally went as far as New Westminster. The route was expanded into the rapidly growing suburb of Surrey in the 1990s.

Today the SkyTrain system carries over one hundred million passengers every year.

With files from The Early Edition

To listen to the full audio, click the link labelled: Secrets of Expo 86: the SkyTrain according to 'Joe the historic investigator'.