Last week, the London Underground started running Night Tubes on Friday and Saturday nights, to the joyful cheers of clubbers, drinkers and early morning workers.
Here in Vancouver however, there’s no such luck. The SkyTrain continues to close between 11 pm and 1 am, remaining shut until between 5 and 7 am, depending on the line and day.
So, why can’t TransLink open up our SkyTrain lines around the clock? According to spokesperson Chris Bryan, it’s simple. Maintenance.
“Required maintenance and service obligations to keep the tracks and trains in good repair prevent us from operating any late-night SkyTrain service,” Bryan told Daily Hive.
According to Bryan, crews need two and a half hours available each night to maintain the SkyTrain’s 80 kms of track, 33 passenger stations and other system infrastructure.
At the time of writing, Bryan had not responded when asked how often regular work actually takes place, speaking only about critical maintenance.
“We try to schedule all critical maintenance during our non-service hours so to minimize impacts to the travelling public,” said Bryan.
How about running 24 hours but closing for maintenance at weekends, as happens – albeit chaotically – every weekend in London?
Bryan says this is unfeasible, because the SkyTrain doesn’t have as many lines as the London Underground.
“SkyTrain with just three lines, does not have that luxury,” he said.
“Shutting a line during the day in Metro Vancouver would have a more significant impact on customers, and therefore we use late evening slots for essential track maintenance.”
We put it to Bryan that the Tube lines close at weekends, even though it often leaves riders with no way to reach certain areas, but he had not responded at the time of writing.
Oh well, be careful what you wish for I suppose.
For Vancouverites who need night transport, Bryan suggested the NightBus instead. There are currently 10 NightBus routes, which run every 20 to 30 minutes:
Note that the N6 (West End/Downtown) and N16 (Renfrew-Kingsway/Renfrew-Hastings) routes have been discontinued due to low ridership.