February 24, 2004

SkyTrain Shops? It's About Time

The lower mainland's TransLink system has issued a request for proposals for retailing opportunities at SkyTrain stations. The idea is to generate revenue for the transit system while improving safety in and around SkyTrain stations by creating thriving retail communities.

I say it's about time.

Having coffee shops, convenience stores, dry cleaners, barbershops etc. at SkyTrain stations would greatly improve community life and safety. I lived in Tokyo for about 14 years, where train and subway stations are bustling hubs of activity.

I've never understood why that model has not been followed in the lower mainland. However, I would go further and implement more lessons we could learn from transit systems in Japan.

1) SkyTrain stations need gates. That would eliminate the flagrant abuse of the system as a drug trafficking and petty theft freeway. It would also recoup lost revenues.

2) Perhaps we don't have the population density for this proposal, but another feature of most train and subway stations in Japan is a "koban" police box that is manned 24/7 by officers who know their community. They take reports of lost and stolen items, do neighborhood bicycle patrols, respond to local incidents, and generally keep an eye on things.

Food for thought.

Posted by Paul at February 24, 2004 04:36 PM