Everyone hates the stairwell detour at Commercial-Broadway

We don’t have time to zigzag all the way around to the sketchy back staircase

Entrance to access the SkyTrain blocked by ten “STOP, DO NOT ENTER” signs.
ILLUSTRATION: Emily Xu / The Peak

By: Hailey Miller, Staff Writer

If you’re a regular SkyTrain-goer in Vancouver, chances are you’re no stranger to being outrageously inconvenienced. Now, TransLink wants us to use an out-of-the-way stairwell that’s narrower than the footing of a tightrope. It couldn’t be further off the beaten path, like you’re going down the rabbit hole of Alice in Wonderland just to get from one platform to another. 

Allow me to set the scene if you’re unfamiliar with the chaotic situation. Since the escalators at Commercial-Broadway have been out-of-order, SkyTrain personnel have attempted — and considerably failed — to only allow commuters to walk up the main staircase. It’s not like it’s the third busiest station in Vancouver or something. At this point, commuters are training for the Grouse Grind whether they like it or not. 

So, how exactly are you supposed to get down the stairs, you ask? Well, cue the tiniest, sketchiest, most inconvenient back stairwell you’ve ever stepped foot on. As if the hoards of commuters on any given day at the biggest SkyTrain transfer station isn’t bad enough, they’re now unsuccessfully directing people to some random stairwell — that’s smaller than the main staircase — with an obnoxious sign that screams “NO EXIT,” but everyone ignores it, myself included.

The SkyTrain personnel just stand there, in front of this makeshift barricade — that seems to be sentient, constantly growing and moving — like they’re the Royal Guards at Buckingham Palace. Do they really expect every single person is going to squeeze into a tiny stairwell or wait a literal eternity for some elevator that’s further out of the way then the back staircase of doom? Pff, unreal expectations! 

Why would I not casually sneak past the signs like I run the place? I literally make a run for it and book it down the regular stairs to beat the oncoming counterflow of passenger traffic. This illegal manoeuvre of going against the grain just so I don’t have to go down some alternate stairwell should really be an extreme sport. TransLink staff can’t stop me, I’ve been playing British Bulldog for years to train for this. 

Seriously, how long does it take to replace one single set of escalators? Are they making the materials from scratch? These are the kinds of questions I need answered on the TransLink podcast (not that I’m listening to it, but still!). But what do I know? I’m just a bus bitch who doesn’t have the time of day. Management will surely be hearing from me. A scathing email and a formal complaint are on the way to the higher-ups’ inbox as we speak. 

The wheels on the bus may go round and round, but the motors on the broken-down escalators that haven’t had a finger laid on them to even begin the repairs sure as hell aren’t. At this point, it would be more efficient to install a fire pole or a magic carpet slide — like those ones at kids’ carnivals — because the chaos of Commercial-Broadway is already a circus, with the latest bothersome transit acts rolling into a station near you! 

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