Metro Vancouver's newest rapid transit line officially opens today, three and a half months ahead of schedule, with a fare-free day for all passengers.

Traveling at speeds of up to 80 kilometres per hour, the Canada Line will take passengers 25 minutes to get from the downtown core to the Vancouver International Airport and Richmond.

In Pictures: Canada Line Day One

Two of the first passengers this morning were Premier Gordon Campbell and International Trade Minister Stockwell Day, who took an inaugural trip along the $2 billion line before the general public.

"This new line will carry millions of visitors and residents each year, reducing commute times and carrying tourists and business travellers quickly and efficiently into our communities," Cambell said.

Free fare is offered from 1:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. Monday.

There will be festivities and fun at every station on opening day. Riders can pick up a free passport that can be stamped at 11 of the 17 stops.

  • Waterfront: Win prizes at Canada Place
  • Vancouver City Centre: Street teams handing out gift cards to Pacific Centre to the tune of live music
  • Yaletown-Roundhouse: Visit the steam train inside the Roundhouse, live music
  • Broadway-City Hall: Mayor Gregor Robertson will speak about the opening of the line, accompanied by a 1950s rock band
  • King Edward: Cambie Village merchants will be handing out coupon books for shops and restaurants. Paralympic curling demonstrations between 3:00 p.m. and 5:00 p.m.
  • Oakridge-41st Avenue: The unveiling of the Design for Diversity mosaics, free scratch tickets for big prizes at Oakridge Centre
  • Langara-49th Avenue: Free coffee and hot dogs at Langara College
  • Bridgeport: Hang out with Elvis impersonators at the River Rock Casino. Collect Marti Gras beads and playing cards
  • Lansdowne: Enjoy a free horse drawn carriage ride to the shopping centre. Paralympic basketball from 5:30 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.
  • Richmond-Bridghouse: Richmond Mayor Malcolm Brodie will officially cut the ribbon at 12:45 p.m., after a traditional Lion dance ceremony.
  • YVR-Airport: Free frozen confections in the public observation area with the theme "Explore Planes, Trains and 2010"

Canada Line representatives released a list of tips for opening day passengers, including:

  • Be patient, and expect large crowds
  • No bikes or pets on opening day
  • Standard fares apply to all other forms of transit
  • Riders will enjoy free fares from 1:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.

At full capacity, each Canada Line train will hold 400 passengers. They will be running trains every three minutes during peak service. The cars are much wider than SkyTrain, allowing them to accommodate luggage.

Estimated to have cost around $2 billion, the train will make Vancouver the first Canadian city with a rapid transit link between its downtown core and its airport.