Heat tracing, de-icing, tire socks: How TransLink is gearing up for winter

Dec 2 2019, 9:50 pm

From “tire socks” to heat tracing and touchscreen transit kiosks, TransLink is looking to prepare for the worst this season.

“Our initiatives this winter are focused on increasing safety and customer communication at stations, bus exchanges, and throughout our online channels,” says TransLink CEO Kevin Desmond in an emailed statement.

Desmond says that the company has “learned from previous seasons” and is working to ensure that customers are kept informed when delays or transit issues occur.

Last November, TransLink hosted a meeting with municipalities across the Lower Mainland in hopes of being better prepared and limiting the impact of weather on transit and transportation. Here’s how they are looking to prepare for the upcoming season:


Two new features that are being introduced this season include electronic display screens and speakers at multiple stations. These will provide information to customers should a delay or weather event take place.

Touchscreen transit kiosks are also being installed. Similar to the display screens, they’ll show a full-screen warning whenever an emergency or significant delay occurs.

SkyTrain and Canada Line

The SkyTrain and Canada Line will be using many of the same features from prior years. This winter, expect additional SkyTrain attendants at the front of trains and at station platforms.

Heat tracing is installed on sections of the tracks where heavy ice buildups have previously resulted in disruptions, and de-icer trains will keep power rails ice-free. De-ice trains will also run when there is overnight snowfall. Problematic trees and branches that are within 10 metres of SkyTrain tracks are also being removed.

New this year will be coupling on the Millennium Line, meaning trains will be coupled together (four-car trains) to maximize capacity. The Canada Line has also upgraded its de-icing products.


TransLink will be adjusting the tire socks that are used on its buses and as a result, they will last for “double the distance, with the same level of effectiveness.”

The tire socks will be used for routes on Burnaby Mountain and the North Shore.

Other new features include a Snow Desk in the Transit Communications Centre to monitor bus routes and road conditions, as well as contractors who will plow and shovel at bus loops and exchanges.

Returning initiatives from last year include trucks that will spray de-icing fluid on trolley lines and switching to 40-foot conventional buses, which carry fewer passengers but have better traction in the snow.

TransLink says that they have also communicated with municipalities to coordinate priority corridors for snow clearing if conditions become severe.


HandyDart has not implemented a formal process to assess road conditions for customer pickup. If service disruptions or changes occur, day programs and health partners will be notified of said changes.

In the case of reduction to service, each bus will have additional staffing to help customers load and unload.

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