SkyTrain shutdown investigation makes 20 recommendations

An independent review of TransLink's two SkyTrain shutdowns this summer is recommending $71 million in improvements to reduce delays and improve communication in the system.

Report looked at safety and communication issues from two system-wide shutdowns this summer

A new report outlines 20 steps to prevent future SkyTrain system failures like the 2 that stranded thousands in July 2:11

An independent review of TransLink's two SkyTrain shutdowns this summer is recommending $71 million in improvements to reduce delays and improve communication in the system.

Among the recommendations included in the report released on Tuesday morning is the need to upgrade the manual restart system — which can take several hours — with an auto-restart system that would significantly reduce delays.

The development of a plan to get staff to every single affected train within 20 minutes of a prolonged service disruption was another key proposal.

Other recommendations included:

  • Modifying rules around the movement of trains during a shutdown.
  • Installing back-up for, and decoupling, critical systems.
  • Restricting repairs of critical systems to non-peak hours.
  • Updating maintenance manuals and procedures.
  • Upgrading intrusion detection systems.
  • Installing system-wide CCTV coverage.
  • Streamlining radio communications.
  • Improving public address systems.
  • Installing programmable message boards at stations.
  • Improving call centre and website capacity and response.
  • Expanding advisories of major delays to bus scrolling screens.

After the report was released, TransLink put out a media release accepting all the recommendations.

After the trains stopped many riders pried open the doors and began walking along the tracks to the nearest station. (Josephus Fantasticus/Twitter)

"We have taken these incidents very seriously, and we fully accept and are acting on all 20 recommendations. We have already started the work," TransLink CEO Ian Jarvis said in the release.

 Jarvis said the unprecedented service disruptions in July were "unacceptable to customers, and unacceptable to us.

"Customers had every right to be angry and frustrated, especially those who were stuck on trains for a prolonged period in the heat. We must make sure that never happens again," he said.

In July, two system-wide shutdowns just five days apart trapped passengers on trains for hours. Many riders complained TransLink was slow to respond, leaving them with little choice but to force open doors and walk off  the trains.

Gary MacNeil, former CEO of Toronto's GO Transit, conducted a review of two system-wide shutdowns in July that left thousands of SkyTrain riders stranded across Metro Vancouver for hours. (CBC)

TransLink originally said a review was not needed because it had determined that human error and a faulty electrical panel were behind the problems.

But the organization changed tack after heavy criticism, hiring Gary MacNeil, the former CEO of Toronto's GO Transit to conduct a review of the incidents.

MacNeil's main focus was TransLink's communication problems and the safety issues created when passengers opened train doors and walked onto the elevated rail lines.

He concluded that, despite the problems identified, the SkyTrain was a safe system and nobody was injured in either incident.



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