TransLink has requested ProTransBC, the private operator of the SkyTrain Canada Line, to add one more train to the system’s weekday morning peak hour schedule along the route between Richmond-Brighouse Station.
Overcrowding at the Richmond terminus station has become a regular occurrence, to the extent that SkyTrain attendants have had to temporarily shut down access to the small platform over several morning peak hour occasions this month.
Passengers are held downstairs at the ground level ticketing area until the crowded platform above clears of waiting passengers.
Currently, Canada Line trains south of Bridgeport Station are evenly split into the almost-equidistant Richmond and Sea Island segments. Trains run every 6 to 7 minutes within both twin spans during the morning peak hours from 7 a.m. to 9 a.m.
The added train during the morning inbound crush will run exclusively between Waterfront and Richmond-Brighouse, providing three additional inbound trips and three additional outbound trips.
This means 17 of the 20 available two-car trains will be in use. Additional trains could be placed into service, but it comes at a premium cost to TransLink: it would break the public-private project’s concession agreement, which has set dates for when train frequencies will increase.
The Canada Line opened in 2009 with 14 operating trains and in August 2011 it was increased to 16 operating trains as scheduled in the concession agreement. TransLink also opted to extend evening peak hour service by one hour until 7 p.m.
Small station areas, short 40 or 50-metre platforms and steadily rising ridership to numbers that are years ahead of original forecasts have been a cause for capacity concerns. However, TransLink has maintained that increasing train frequency through the usage of existing spare stock and the future acquisition of additional trains will be the main methods for increasing system capacity.
In June 2014, the Mayors’ Council overseeing TransLink proposed a $7.5-billion public transit transportation plan that included the purchase of additional Canada Line trains to allow the system to reach beyond its existing 20 train potential frequency.
The plan calls for 12 additional cars (6 two-car trains) in 2019 and eight additional cars (4 two-car trains) in 2024, bringing the total train fleet to 40 two-car trains by 2025.
This will require a capacity expansion at the Canada Line train yard, coupled with passenger access and circulation upgrades at three stations and the extension of 12 station platforms from 40 to 50 metres to accommodate the increased crowd flow from higher train frequencies.