VANCOUVER -- Winter may still be a couple of weeks away, but TransLink has released its plans to manage the impacts of cold weather.

Last month TransLink met with Metro Vancouver municipalities to discuss its winter preparedness plans. 

"Our initiatives this winter are focused on increasing safety and customer communication at stations, bus exchanges, and throughout our online channels," said TransLink CEO Kevin Desmond in a news release. 

There are nine new elements this year in TransLink's initiatives, including:

  1. Station upgrades to include display screens and speakers. These will help provide customers with up-to-date information during winter weather events.
  2. Touchscreen kiosks to help provide information about delays and help transit users plan their trips.
  3. Millennium Line coupling, which means trains on the line will be paired together maximize capacity while SkyTrain attendants keep an eye on the tracks.
  4. Upgraded de-icing products on Canada Line to help keep the guideway clear of ice.
  5. Tire socks are being resized this year, which should help them last for double the distance. They'll also be available for use on Burnaby Mountain and on the North Shore.
  6. TransLink will introduce a new snow desk in its communications centre to help monitor conditions.
  7. Contractors who plow and shovel snow near bus loops and at SkyTrain stations will be asked to upload photos to verify snow conditions.
  8. HandyDART will have a new formal process in place for assessing road conditions for customer pickup this year.
  9. As well, HandyDART will communicate with partner organizations if service disruptions or schedule changes are necessary.

Along with these new initiatives, TransLink will have its usual strategies in place like SkyTrain de-icing, problem tree and branch removal, snow routes, added bus tire traction and extra staffing for HandyDART. 

In past years, Metro Vancouver's transit system has been nearly crippled by extreme winter conditions. Heavy ice build-up has led to delayed trains and snowy roads have required buses to reroute. 

However, Desmond said TransLink's working to improve its winter strategy. 

"We've learned from previous seasons and have been working hard to ensure customers are kept informed of any significant delays or issues on our system," he said.