TransLink could be on verge of improving overnight transit service out of Vancouver

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      The lack of early-morning SkyTrain service when downtown Vancouver bars close on weekends is a long-standing frustration for emergency responders, nightclub owners and workers, and businesses.

      Late-night mayhem exacerbated by drunks being trapped downtown without transportation has led to unnecessary deaths and injuries, sexual harassment of women, public urination, vandalism to local businesses, and untold millions in extra policing and health-care costs.

      That's in addition to fights that break out over taxi service after the SkyTrain has ceased operating. Patrons have sometimes complained that cabbies won't take them to far-flung suburbs.

      Now, it appears as though TransLink may be on the verge of addressing this.

      The regional transportation planning committee will present the results of its late-night transit review to the Mayors' Council on Regional Transportation on Thursday (June 25) at its 9 a.m. meeting.

      The president and CEO of the Downtown Vancouver Business Improvement Association, Charles Gauthier, told CBC reporter Justin McElroy that he's happy with what he's heard—though Gauthier didn't provide any details.

      For many years, Gauthier has advocated for better late-night transit out of the downtown core.

      So it's safe to assume that the committee will recommend some improvements.

      Whether that means 24-hour SkyTrain service remains an open question.

      SkyTrain officials have often claimed that they can't provide 24-hour service because of the need for overnight maintenance of the tracks.
      The Buzzer

      The last eastbound Expo Line train leaves Waterfront Station at 1:16 a.m. from Monday to Saturday, and at 12:16 a.m. on Sundays and holidays.

      The final southbound Canada Line train leaves at 1:15 a.m.

      Bars close on weekends at 3 a.m. in the Granville Entertainment District.

      In 2017, the chair of Barwatch, Curtis Robinson, alleged to the Straight that TransLink was deliberately making it difficult for people to leave the downtown core on weekends because it "didn't want to deal with the nightclub and bar crowd". 

      SkyTrain officials, on the other hand, have often maintained that they needed to halt train service to allow for overnight maintenance on the train—a claim that Robinson has dismissed as "horseshit".

      In 2018, TransLink launched a "NightBus District pilot project" with express buses roughly following the routes of the Millennium, Expo, Canada, and Evergreen lines. They provide service from downtown after 4 a.m. on weekends.

      Other NightBus service takes bus passengers to Kitsilano, UBC's Point Grey campus, up Victoria Drive, along Hastings to SFU's Burnaby campus, and up Lonsdale to Lynn Valley.