Union leaders representing almost 7,000 transit workers want TransLink to widen the scope of its review of the two recent SkyTrain shutdowns.
Six locals with the Amalgamated Transit Union, Canadian Office and Professional Employees Union, Canadian Union of Public Employees, and Unifor are also asking independent reviewer Gary McNeil to meet with them.
“It is critical that the inquiry consult the workers who run the transit system in order to understand all of the challenges and problems that need to be fixed,” Nathan Woods, president of Unifor Local 111, said in a joint news release today (July 29). “We regret that TransLink did not talk to us about this inquiry.
“Translink also needs to broaden the terms of the independent inquiry to ensure that all aspects of the SkyTrain breakdown are investigated – there should be no limitations after such a serious disruption of service.”
Rob Woods, president of CUPE Local 4500, said in the release: “Riders had no easy way of finding out what happened, how serious it was, what they should do and if alternative transportation was available – that led to many people taking the very dangerous decision to exit stuck SkyTrain cars along the guideway without any assistance – this has to be fixed even before the inquiry reports – we need a backup communications system immediately.”
On Monday (July 28), TransLink announced the hiring of McNeil, a former CEO of GO Transit in Toronto, to lead a "thorough review of TransLink’s response plan for major service disruptions, and identify improvements".
In a news release, TransLink said that McNeil would file his final report at the end of October.
A TransLink backgrounder describes the SkyTrain outages: "On July 17th and July 21st the Expo and Millennium lines were shut down for extended periods of time. These outages had a significant impact on customers and raised public safety concerns. In both cases the entire system was out of service for periods in excess of four hours.
"Some customers self-evacuated trains, and customer crowding occurred at major transit hubs.
"The first occurrence was caused by the premature failure of a computer system component that controls a segment of the Expo Line, and the second was caused by the loss of power when the main power control panel was accidentally taken out of service while undergoing modifications."