Following this summer’s series of major SkyTrain disruptions, TransLink has announced that it will be implementing a number of improvements to increase the reliability and resiliency of the SkyTrain system.
Malfunctions with the SkyTrain system on July 17 and 21 led to system shutdowns that lasted for as long as six hours. “The outages were not acceptable for customers and not acceptable for ourselves. We are fully accepting and acting on each of Gary’s 20 recommendations,” said TransLink CEO Ian Jarvis. “We failed our customers last summer… we can do better.”
“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.”
The first incident was caused by an overheated computer card while the second incident has been blamed on human error when a worker installed a circuit breaker for the Evergreen Line. According to the review’s findings, the electrician was allowed to work alone and unsupervised.
The improvements are recommendations by Gary McNeil, the former Toronto GO Transit president, who was hired by TransLink to conduct an independent review on SkyTrain service.
While the review largely tackles the causes of the major delays, it also addresses the recent frequency of short delays which have been largely caused by track intrusion alarms.
Last year, an adjustment in the sensitivity of the Expo Line’s aging weight/pressure plate detection system led to a 50 per cent increase in track intrusion alarms. Prior to the sensitivty adjustment, there were 275 to 300 intrusion alarms a month, causing about 125 emergency situations per month.
However, since the adjustments were made in November 2013, track intrusion alarms increased to 450 per month resulting in approximately 275 emergency brake incidents.
Early estimates total the cost of the improvements at $71-million, which are aimed to reduce the frequency and duration of service disruptions, ensure timely and safe evacuation of passengers during a major disruption, strengthen the resilience of the system so it can recover from breakdowns more quickly, and introduce a frequent communication system with customers when problems arise.
The transportation authority plans to implement the changes and improvements over a five year timeline. Some of the major capital items to improve the system include:
The report also offers recommendations on how TransLink can improve its operational procedures:
Both the Expo and Millennium Lines have a combined annual operating budget of $107-million and employ 660 people.
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