Multiple SkyTrain issues occurred throughout July
By Angela Espinoza, News Editor
Throughout July there were a number of issues plaguing the TransLink SkyTrain system. As with last summer, multiple shutdowns and other events have occurred for various reasons.
The month started with an announcement that the Compass Card system was to be delayed again because of “technical issues.” On July 8, it was revealed that the Compass system may not be able to proceed until this October at the earliest, but even by then the system won’t be operational. One of the technical issues regarded commuters testing out the system, who have revealed frequent overcharging when using the card, as the system is not always accurate enough to record when passengers tap out.
While the Compass fare gates were meant to be in place back in 2008, installation did not occur until 2012, with issues and delays occurring since. With nearly $200-million spent overall thus far, the project is nearly $30-million over budget.
Multiple SkyTrain system shutdowns then followed, the first occurring on July 17 and the second occurring on July 21. The July 17 shutdown affected the Expo and Millennium lines for over three hours, and was blamed on a “computer glitch.”
The July 21 shutdown also affected the Expo and Millennium lines. The shutdown occurred around 12:30 p.m. and lasted for over five hours, leaving on-board commuters stranded at various locations. Reports also show that the power outage which caused the shutdown cut out the PA system, so there was no communication between passengers and SkyTrain officials. Eventually passengers were escorted out of the cars to walk along the tracks to the next SkyTrain station. Those at SkyTrain stations were asked to leave until the issue could be resolved.
The shutdown was blamed on a now-suspended electrician who had been working on the Evergreen Line rail system. The worker allegedly “tripped” over a circuit breaker that affected the connecting lines, causing the outage.
Following the event, Mayor of Surrey Dianne Watts spoke to CBC, stating:
“We need to hold TransLink’s feet to the fire in terms of ensuring that the proper infrastructure is in place, that if something like this should happen, what the backup plan is, how are people being communicated to?”
TransLink offered a “free day” on BC Day for all transit users as an apology, including bus, SkyTrain, SeaBus, HandyDart, or West Coast Express services.
While not a technical issue, on July 28 transit police proceeded to take down several hundred sexual assault ads after a number of complaints regarding the wording. While the message of the ads attempts to raise awareness of sexual assault, the line, “Not reporting sexual assault is the real shame,” made many feel the wording blamed assault victims.
TransLink intends to replace the ads with a similar campaign.