Probe into SkyTrain shutdowns recommends $71M in upgrades
An independent review of two major SkyTrain meltdowns that stranded passengers for hours this summer is recommending TransLink invest $71-million into the aging transit system.
The report, the result of a $1,200 a day review commissioned after the service disruptions, issued 20 recommendations to TransLink to upgrade technology that dates back to 1994.
Those upgrades include a programmable message board, PA speakers and CCTV cameras at all stations to effectively communicate service-related information to customers.
The report also recommends that TransLink upgrades its system to allow for automatic restarting of service during an outage.
Right now, cars on the Expo and Millenium lines must be manually restarted, which takes 10 minutes per car and can lead to lengthy waits during service disruptions.
TransLink should also improve customer service, including increased visibility of frontline staff at SkyTrain stations, an improved passenger address system and strengthened ties with municipalities to manage traffic and pedestrian crowding, according to the report.
On Tuesday, TransLink CEO Ian Jarvis called the SkyTrain outages said he will move forward on all 20 recommendations made in the report.
“The situation and incidents are unprecedented in Skytrain’s 29-year history, but they happened,” he said. “The outages, and particularly the way that the outages were managed, were not acceptable to our customers and not acceptable to ourselves.”
The service shutdowns were reviewed by retired Toronto GO Transit CEO Gary McNeil, who helped plan and implement Vancouver’s SkyTrain system.
The first shutdown on July 17 was blamed on a computer glitch. The trains stopped moving around noon and remained out of service for about four hours.
TransLink customer service became aware that the system was down because of a tweet, according to the review.
The second incident on July 21, a power outage blamed on a single technician working on a circuit breaker, also halted SkyTrains for hours while cutting the PA system, preventing staff from communicating with riders.
The report also recommends that TransLink change its procedures so no electrician works alone during crucial rush hours.
A controversial referendum on how to fund transit expansion in the region, including a proposed Broadway subway line, is scheduled for spring 2015.
With files from CTV Vancouver's Jon Woodward