City In­former

Vancouver Magazine - - News - Stacey McLach­lan BY By­ron Eggen­schwiler IL­LUS­TRA­TION BY Got aque­s­tion for City In­former? stacey.mclach­

Our in­trepid re­porter an­swers that age-old ques­tion: just who is the voice of the SkyTrain?

ba­bies rec­og­nize their own mother’s voice even be­fore they’re out of the womb. For SkyTrain pas­sen­gers—who, head­ing home after a Fri­day night on the town, are of­ten act­ing like ba­bies— it’s the sooth­ing tones of sta­tion an­nounce­ments (all to­gether now: “The next sta­tion is: Main Street– Sci­ence World”) that light up the neu­ral path­ways in the brain and pro­vide com­fort in this cold, cruel world. No mat­ter if your seat­mate is a pro­fes­sional-grade manspreader or watch­ing the En­tourage movie on his phone with­out head­phones, the Voice pro­vides re­as­sur­ance that you’re on your way to a bet­ter place. (Un­less your ‘nal des­ti­na­tion is Gate­way, in which case things are clearly not go­ing great for you right now.)

In th­ese post-Siri times, one might as­sume that only a ro­bot could de­liver such con­sis­tency and cheer when de­scrib­ing pub­lic tran­sit. But there is, in fact, a real per­son—nay, a wizard— be­hind the cur­tain. And it’s Cal­gary’s own Lau­reen Re­gan: an en­tre­pre­neur who is also the hon­orary vice con­sul for trade and in­vest­ment for Ire­land.

How did aCel­tophile Albertan wind up with my dream job of nar­rat­ing Van­cou­verites’ daily com­mutes? As amem­ber of the Cal­gary business com­mu­nity, she knew some­one at In­ter­alia, a Cal­gary com­pany who does au­to­ma­tion for tran­sit sys­tems all over the world and had their eyes set on Van­cou­ver’s new Mil­len­nium Line. They tapped Re­gan to record a demo for their bid, and a few months later Tran­sLink signed the deal, re­quest­ing Re­gan’s silkys­mooth pipes for the ‘nal prod­uct in 2002. And lo, a star was born. Since then, she’s also be­come the voice of tran­sit sys­tems in Oak­land, San Fran­cisco, Salt Lake City and her home­town. Years later, she re­turned to record the new Canada Line and Evergreen sta­tions (her come­back al­bums, if you will) and freshen up her Expo and Mil­len­nium Line hits (her best-of mix).

But be­fore Re­gan took on the pres­ti­gious role of “SkyTrain Voice Lady,” BC Tran­sit em­ployee Karen Kelm was the orig­i­nal star of our rail sys­tem from its Expo launch through to 2001. If you’re miss­ing her iconic pro­nun­ci­a­tion of “Nanai­i­i­imo,” don’t fret: last year she recorded an al­bum from a mu­si­cal she wrote called Like a Fly in Am­ber, the per­fect rem­edy if you’re han­ker­ing for those dul­cet tones of yes­ter­year.

e Voice pro­vides re­as­sur­ance that you’re on your way to a bet­ter place.

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