TransLink CEO says sorry for 13-hour SkyTrain shutdown

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      TransLink interim CEO Doug Allen has said sorry to SkyTrain riders after the Expo Line was shutdown for nearly 13 hours, disrupting the Friday morning commutes of tens of thousands of people. 

      At a midday press conference outside Main Street-Science World Station, Allen announced that SkyTrain service had been completely restored.

      "A lot of our customers were disrupted," said Allen. "I want to apologize to all of them."

      The incident affected stations between Waterfront and Joyce-Collingwood, effectively shutting down Expo and Millennium line access to the downtown core. 

      The delays began at 11 p.m. Thursday night, when a spark from a rail grinder ignited a bird's nest, damaging a metre of cable just east of the Main Street station.

      "It's a very unfortunate, very unusual, really a freak accident," said Allen, who explained that crews had been working throughout the night to fix the problem.

      In order to avoid similar incidents in the future, the TransLink CEO announced that the regional transportation authority will be having a look at nesting throughout the system and that it will try to stop grinders from sparking.

      "That's all part of the due diligence that has to be done," Allen said.

      TransLink announced earlier this morning that all of its services will be offered for free throughout the day. The company also said that it had added a total of 33 extra buses to its system to help alleviate the delays caused by the incident.

      "It's one of the biggest responses we've ever had," said Allen, who also promised to work out an arrangement to compensate users who purchased monthly bus passes.

      The delays come a week before mail-in voting closes for the transit referendum, which calls for a $7.5-billion investment in road and transit improvements over the next decade. 

      Peter Mothe is a practicum student at the Georgia Straight and a graduate student at UBC's school of journalism. You can follow him on Twitter.



      The Stalk

      May 22, 2015 at 3:55pm

      At least we have a full grade separated Skytrain from Commercial drive all the way to Douglas College

      Heaven forbid Translink make any investment within Vancouver proper, you know, beyond the 2 subway stations connecting the Douglas College line to Cambie by 2040... maybe

      Blame it on the Birds

      May 22, 2015 at 4:08pm

      Why do we need to pay $400 to $500K per year for someone in a monopoly to say Sorry?

      It won't take me 13 hours to fix a 1 meter of Cable maybe 2 hours tops :)

      Does the Translink CEO get a Car allowance? What about Parking Space?

      Wait he doesn't use Transit EVERYDAY like other people?

      Today after several stoppages Public Relations makes an excuse blames a bird nest.

      So they (PR) say look it's not Trans-link’s fault it's that darn Birds nest. LOL

      The Non Binding Plebiscite.

      A 'Yes' vote does NOT give any added capacity it is a small part of the about $8 billion in funding the Mayors are seeking from both the Federal & Provincial Government.

      Neither the Federal nor the Provincial governments have said anything and indeed they are against this specific additional funding as outlined by the Mayors for Transit in BC.

      The governments are funding the building of 'PPP' Private Public Partnerships based infrastructure like Bridges and Tunnels NOT added capacity with Trains and Buses.

      Aka Corporate Welfare so they can turn around and give 30 to 50 Year Tolls contracts to Private Corporations for their profit.

      It seems most people considering a 'Yes' vote think this automatically and/or is likely to provide added capacity, this is simply NOT the case.

      Added Transit capacity is SOLELY dependent on Funding from the Federal and Provincial Governments of at least $8 Billion +++ they have shown ZERO interest in doing this regardless of a 'Yes' vote.

      Indeed a review of Translinks Financial statements and budgets for 2014 show at least $300 to $400 million in waste that can easily be re-directed to increase capacity today!


      - $84 Million allocated in 2014 to Compass to catch at best $5 to $7 million in 'Fare Evasion'

      - Compass will NEVER pay for itself, $15 Million in Operating costs per year budgeted,

      - $20 Million +++ in 'Studies', these can be done for Free or a fraction of this cost by local Colleges or Universities,

      - $32 Million projected possible $50 Million per year for Transit only Police aka $100,000 per year + Fare Checkers when local City Police can & do attend any Emergencies involving Transit.

      Waiting for up to 10 years after a 'Yes' vote for a "Promise" of added capacity is stupid.

      Besides most of these politicians won't be around in a few years let alone 5 to 10 years from now.


      May 22, 2015 at 9:47pm

      "It won't take me 13 hours to fix a 1 meter of Cable maybe 2 hours tops :)"

      Built a lot of monorails, have you?

      Richard Campbell

      May 23, 2015 at 12:49am

      @Blame it on the Birds

      Enough of the misinformation. The Provincial Government has already promised they will pay 1/3 of the cost of the rapid transit projects and the Federal Government has likely has enough funding too.

      Not sure why the No side feels they need to mislead people.

      Utilities Engineer

      May 23, 2015 at 1:21pm

      Instances of birds nesting on high voltage lines near very loud rail lines are, let's say a stretch. This is slightly less improbable than birds nesting on high voltage lines very close to trolleybus lines.

      Perhaps a bird's nest did catch fire during an electrical mishap. This does not indicate that the bird's nest caused the fire. Is TransLink making this story up?

      Was there an investigation by the fire department to determine the cause of the fire before TransLink hastily repaired the burnt out electrical line to destroy any evidence of carelessness on the part of TransLink?

      I'm not accusing anyone of anything, I'm just asking, did TransLink investigate the incident to blame the bird? If so, there was no proper investigation. Peter Mothe who wrote this story, can you shed any light on this?

      Peter Mothe

      May 23, 2015 at 1:59pm

      @Utilities Engineer

      According to SkyTrain press releases the incident occurred when crews were performing routine grinding maintenance to lower noise levels on the tracks. That's when the spark flew into the bird's nest.

      TransLink did not explain if this was human error by the maintenance crews. They didn't apologize to the bird either.


      May 23, 2015 at 11:21pm

      Funny how definitions of things like "responsibility" change between public and private sectors yet salaries do not. This clown is paid more than $1000 a day to be CEO of a corporation that has institutionalized waste and incompetence to a degree shocking even for a public body. His predecessor is making similar money as a "consultant" with Translink and yet they have massive media and special interest support in their demand for more money.

      Giving Translink more money will not "fix" the incompetent managers who have wasted millions on Compass. Giving Translink more money will not guarantee improved services. Giving Translink more money will mean that incompetent managers will get bonuses, the CEO will get a massive raise and their propaganda department will grow. Giving Translink more money is like giving a heroin addict a chunk of money because she/he promises to "get clean."


      May 24, 2015 at 10:42am

      I have a great idea. Given translink continues to prove to be totally useless and inept why dont we give them money every time we make any time of purchase? Lets increase our taxes because I think giving more money will fix the problem.

      what do you think? good idea?


      May 24, 2015 at 11:51am

      Too cheap to pay for a spark watch (attendant), penny wise, pound foolish


      May 24, 2015 at 9:04pm

      Seriously someone was using a grinder on the Skytrain line at 11:00 at night? In the dark??
      I call bullshit on this one