By Mercedes Deutscher, Contributor
This summer was definitely not the best for TransLink: two SkyTrain breakdowns in July extended passengers’ commutes by hours or left them stuck in trains between stations. After almost an hour of being stuck in the trains, some passengers took action by opening the doors, prior to staff assistance, and walking along the tracks to the next station. To increase safety of those who left the trains, power was cut to the whole Expo and Millennium Line, extending the problem by hours.
A third minor breakdown occurred on September 5, and after only 10 minutes of being stopped, passengers on a train between Scott Road and Gateway Station forced the doors open and walked to the next station. The delays were extended by an hour.
There is one commonality among these three breakdowns: impatient passengers. So a solution needs to be found to ensure fewer breakdowns on the SkyTrain. Short stops between stations, lasting 10-15 minutes, are not uncommon. Walking along the SkyTrain tracks is. So here are some things to consider during the next short delay.
Consider the danger! According to CBC, the tracks that the SkyTrains run on are charged with 600 volts of electricity. Those signs at the stations warning passengers about electrocution are not just there for decoration. When one chooses to exit the train outside a station, they put their life at risk. In order to avoid someone falling onto the tracks and being electrocuted, SkyTrain operators are forced to shut off the power to the track. Not just a small area either; the entire track must be powered down. That leaves passengers throughout the whole system stranded.
If the risk of death isn’t enough to keep one from leaving the train, maybe money is. Anyone caught opening the doors and/or exiting the train outside of a station (unless advised to do so by TransLink officials or in the case of fire) risks receiving a $115 fine. Sadly, it appears the fine isn’t steep enough. Perhaps if the fine was raised to $500, impatient passengers wouldn’t be so hasty.
Placing a bag on a seat during rush hour is bad, but opening the doors, exiting the train, and causing the system to stop for hours is worse. Was it so important to get home that it was worth delaying the commutes of thousands of fellow passengers?
It’s time for TransLink and passengers to work together so that these delays stop happening. Be it an increase in fines for those who break the rules; be it reporting someone who is trying to illegally leave the train; or, at the very least, be it having the patience to wait a few extra minutes while at a short stop between stations, something needs to be done.