'Disruptive and inconvenient': Granville SkyTrain station escalator shutdown to last 2 years

TransLink is warning SkyTrain riders to expect disruption and increased congestion at the Granville SkyTrain station, as contractors begin a two-year-long overhaul of the station's three major escalators.

SkyTrain riders using the Granville station must use the Dunsmuir Street entrance

A TransLink passenger stands outside the Granville SkyTrain station entrance on Seymour Street in Vancouver, which is closed as crews begin work replacing three escalators inside. (Megan Batchelor/CBC)

TransLink is warning SkyTrain riders to expect disruption and increased congestion at the Granville SkyTrain station, as contractors begin a two-year-long overhaul of the station's three major escalators.

The work began Saturday, May 26 and crews will completely rebuild the escalators which, according to TransLink, are the longest in the Lower Mainland.

Passengers must access the SkyTrain from the Dunsmuir Street entrance for roughly 24 months, which has elevators.

"We fully understand that two years is a long time," said TransLink vice president of engineering Sany Zein. "This will be disruptive and inconvenient."

He said additional staff and plenty of signs will be put in place to help people find their way.

"It will be more congested. We want our customers to expect that," said Zein.

Two new fare gates have been installed at the Dunsmuir entrance in an attempt to keep things moving, but TransLink is suggesting people give themselves a few extra minutes to navigate the station access and deal with congestion.

SkyTrain says three escalators in the Granville SkyTrain Station are the longest in the Lower Mainland. They were built in the 1980s and need to be replaced. (Rafferty Baker/CBC)

Replacement will cost $14.5M

According to Zein, the three 35-metre escalators have to all be closed at once, as crews overhaul one at a time. Since they're enclosed in a tunnel, workers need one to use as a workspace, and the third to use to move crews and equipment up and down.

Along with three smaller escalators being worked on at the Granville station, the maintenance is expected to cost $14.5 million.

TransLink released an animated video explaining the project, as well as the route passengers will have to take at the Granville station:

Zein said all of the SkyTrain system escalators that were built in the 1980s are nearing the end of their service life and need to be replaced.

He said preventative maintenance has been done on the escalators at the Dunsmuir entrance, in hopes that they keep running smoothly during the two-year closure.

"Worst case scenario, if those escalators fail for any reason, we may need to close the station, so we have those contingency plans," said Zein.

TransLink vice president of engineering Sany Zein ascends the escalator at Granville station. The three main escalators are set to close for two years while crews undertake maintenance work. (Rafferty Baker/CBC)

According to TransLink, about 30,000 people use the three main escalators in an average weekday, and, in a year, each escalator will travel 12,744 kilometres.

"These escalators have been work horses in the system," said Zein.

The SkyTrain system's 37 escalators at 13 stations will all need similar maintenance, but work on those will be rolled out gradually.


Follow Rafferty Baker on Twitter: @raffertybaker

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