From the Vancouver Sun – Canada Line delivers 15,000 extra visitors a week to River Rock casino. Are gamblers the only new ridership?


There is utter pathos in this news item as it seems to be the only news worthy story the mainstream media can say about the RAV/Canada Line, that it’s delivering 15,000 gambling addicted people, by metro, to the River Rock Casino each week. Did we spend a nearly $3 billion metro just to deliver more people to a casino? The RAV/Canada line was supposed to take 200,000 car trips a day off local roads and instead of attracting the all important motorist from the car (the commuter), the metro is giving gamblers a faster trip to lose their money.

There has been absolutely no hint that the RAV/Canada Line has achieved any degree of modal shift from car to transit, as claimed ridership only shows that previous bus passengers are still using the new metro service and this news item continues the shameful way the mainstream media reports local transit news.

Canada Line delivers 15,000 extra visitors a week to River Rock casino

By Brian Morton, Vancouver SunNovember 19, 2009

METRO VANCOUVER — The River Rock Casino Resort is making it much easier for gamblers to spend their money.

As part of a $30-million renovation, gamblers and other visitors can now get off at the Canada Line’s Bridgeport Station and walk directly to the casino via a new covered walkway (called the Starwalk) to the resort’s third floor. The Starwalk is also linked to the adjoining parkade and bus loop.

Once in the resort, customers hop on a first-of-its-kind-in-Canada spiral escalator that drops them on the doorstep of dozens of slot machines and gaming tables.

It appears to be a smart business move, with up to 15,000 extra customers heading to the casino each week following the opening of the Canada Line in August.

“We’ve seen a 15-per-cent increase in guests since [the Canada Line] opened,” Howard Blank, River Rock’s vice-president of media, entertainment and responsible gaming, said in an interview Thursday. “And we think this will grow with this renovation. There’s a lot of older folks from Oakridge, Kerrisdale and Yaletown who didn’t want to drive here. And there’s also a lot of the [younger] hip crowd coming here [via the Canada Line] so they can drink and not have to drive.

“The majority of our guests now come from the Canada Line.”

The 18-month renovation included not only the Starwalk — which incorporates an autowalk (a flat, moving escalator) and voice recordings from stars who have played there — but four private VIP suites (each holding up to 20 guests, with one dedicated to Vancouver musician Dal Richards) at the River Rock Show Theatre. There are also restaurant upgrades and a new lounge.

A tour of the facility by The Vancouver Sun Thursday featured two escalators which, unlike traditional escalators, traverse two floors in a 180-degree circular span — a major change from the stairs that preceded them — and required seven months to assemble, install and test. The spirals were delivered from Japan in seven separate truss sections and installed by Mitsubishi.

“The escalators were very important,” added Blank, who noted that there are no other spiral escalators in Canada. “It gives us a grand atrium [and] it opens up our lobby and allows us to expand our ballroom. We thought it was important to separate us from other hotels and casinos. We’ve seen them in Macau and we’re one of the very few in North America.”

As well, the expansion includes a number of retail areas and community and transit policing offices. Also recently opened was a 1,512-vehicle parkade, a joint venture between the Canada Line and River Rock.

Meanwhile, Blank said that so far there haven’t been any problems at River Rock related to petty criminals or drug dealers who often utilize a rapid transit line to commit crimes.

“People of ill repute won’t come here,” he said. “We haven’t had any problem here at all. There’s a community policing station opening shortly [and] we have a huge security presence. And we also have so many security cameras here.”


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3 Responses to “From the Vancouver Sun – Canada Line delivers 15,000 extra visitors a week to River Rock casino. Are gamblers the only new ridership?”

  1. David Says:

    Of course they have few problems with criminals in the casino. Anyone with a brain follows high rollers and winners until they’re away from all the cameras and security guards and then attack them.

    Same thing with transit. There really are very few attacks on transit property compared with the number close to transit property where lighting is poorer and the number of police and witnesses is much lower.

    I’m not surprised that lots of people are using Canada Line to get to the casino. River Rock is more appealing to me as a concert destination than it was before. It’s just one transfer now, whereas transit wasn’t even an option before and driving meant not being allowed to have a drink with my wife.

  2. David Says:

    A better conection to the only Park & Ride on the Canada Line is a bad thing?

    Zweisystem replies: But why a park & ride at the Casino in the first place? Is it to serve the Canada Line or the Casino.

    The Park and ride at Casino Junction is a poor location, simply because it will attract very few customers, unless one wants to gamble. Being so close to the bridges across the Fraser River, means it is just easier to drive into Vancouver for many. What the issue shows is that the RAV/Canada Line seems not to be planned for transit, but for business interests, which means it will offer a poor choice for those wishing to change from driving to transit.

    The same thing happened to Zwei, a decade ago, when I switched from bus to car for my commute to town. After using the bus for over 15 years, I found when Puil took away the midday discount, driving only cost me about $4 more a day than taking the bus. Not a huge saving. The convenience using the my car was awesome.

  3. Ryan Cousineau Says:

    I’m of two minds here. On one hand, all previous Skytrain lines took some time to build up to their present ridership (the Millennium line in particular looked like a ridership dog at first, and now it…is not).

    On the other hand, the suburban lines all dragged development behind them over the years (to the stations especially), while the Canada line is pretty much running through a developed area.

    I’d suggest to you that the casino is more likely to be emblematic of the Canada line’s effects rather than exclusive. I’d bet that the Aberdeen Centre gets a lot more transit-taking guests now too, and so on all up and down the line. If you’re an attractive destination, more transportation to your door is a very good thing.

    Finally, are you Puritans or something? Some people like to gamble for entertainment. It’s a pretty mundane vice as vices go.

    Zweisystem replies: Metro lines such as the RAV/Canada line Millennium and Expo Lines need passenger flows of about 400,000 passengers a day to justify construction, presently our three metro lines are not getting anywhere near this number so the result is high subsidies and money which could be spent on other transit needs are diverted to subsidize metro.

    The RAV/Canada Line cost nearly $3 billion dollars, yet has not been able to show the all important modal shift from car to transit. $3 billion is a very large amount of money to spend giving bus riders a longer and more inconvenient trip and a giving few more people a metro ride to a casino or shopping mall and most using discounted fares. The real test of a transit system is to provide an attractive alternative to the car and it has not happened.

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