Our intrepid City Informer answers the age-old question.
They say that 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 final 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 a Celtophile Albertan wind up with my dream job of narrating Vancouverites’ daily commutes? As a member 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 silky-smooth pipes for the final 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.