Vancouver 2010 transit line to open early

Fri Mar 27, 2009 3:55pm EDT
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VANCOUVER, British Columbia (Reuters) - The new rapid transit line that will play a key role in the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver will be completed three months ahead of schedule, officials said on Friday.

The C$2 billion ($1.6 billion) SkyTrain line between Vancouver's downtown and its suburban airport is expected to be ready for passengers by the Labour Day holiday in early September, Premier Gordon Campbell said during a test run of the 19 km (12 mile) line.

The Winter Games will begin in February 2010.

While not officially considered an Olympic project, the provincial and federal governments agreed to help fund the SkyTrain expansion sooner than had been planned in a bid to help Canada's bid for the Winter Games.

Unlike many large North American cities, Vancouver does not have an extensive highway system linking its downtown core with the suburbs and potential transportation congestion was considered a weakness in its Olympic bid.

The new transit line along a major commuter route has the potential to reduce car travel by 200,000 trips per day, which would cut annual hydrocarbon emissions by more than 11,000 tons annually, officials said.

(Reporting Allan Dowd, editing by Rob Wilson)