How many fights and hospital visits could TransLink prevent by extending weekend SkyTrain hours?

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      On a regular basis, Vancouver police issue reports of another stabbing or other type of skirmish in the early-morning hours in the Granville Entertainment District.

      As someone who posts news articles on this website on weekends, I can attest that this happens all too frequently on the sidewalks. And my sympathies go to the officers who have to police this mayhem.

      There have been similar problems in Gastown early in the mornings on Saturdays and Sundays.

      Sometimes, it's because fights erupt over who will get into taxis, which are in short supply at this time.

      Transportation bottlenecks out of the area keep urban and suburban drunks in our downtown core for longer periods of time.

      This elevates the risk of vandalism, public urination, and harassment of women on the street late at night.

      For years, TransLink has maintained that it couldn't operate SkyTrain later at night because it needed to do maintenance work on the tracks.

      But this week, the regional transportation authority has told CTV News that perhaps it is, in fact, possibly to extend rapid-transit service later at night on weekends.

      As things stand now, service ends around 1:30 a.m. But because morning service starts later on weekends, there's been a revelation that the trains could run later into the night, just like in other big cities.

      "It could be done," TransLink's Matt Doyle told CTV. "But it does require a significant amount of infrastructure, planning and investment."

      Try to imagine how this must sound to the cops who've been policing the downtown for years and been under the impression that SkyTrains service couldn't be extended on weekends. 

      How do the ambulance paramedics feel? Particularly those who've rushed down to the Granville Entertainment District to save the lives of people knifed during a fight over a taxi.

      What about the emergency room physicians at St. Paul's Hospital or Vancouver General Hospital who've had to stitch these people up? They're already being run off their feet all night on weekends dealing with other crises, including fentanyl overdoses and victims of motor-vehicle accidents.

      How does the merchant feel who has to hire someone to clean up the area around their store on weekends for years on end, on some occasions because drunks couldn't get out of the area and decided to pee on their doorstep?

      Vancouver mayor Gregor Robertson chairs the police board. He also chairs the TransLink Mayors' Council. 

      He should pick up the phone today and tell TransLink CEO Kevin Desmond that he must extend SkyTrain service later into the night if this is feasible.

      Vancouver has eight MLAs on the government side of the house in Victoria, including six members of cabinet. They should also make this a priority.

      The premier's chief of staff, Geoff Meggs, is a former Vancouver councillor who's well aware of the late-night problems in the downtown on weekends. He should immediately bring this to the attention of his boss, John Horgan, and Solicitor General Mike Farnworth.

      There's no reason emergency-services personnel and women leaving nightclubs should be placed in unnecessary jeopardy if TransLink has ways of getting nightclub patrons out of the downtown later into the nights on weekends.

      This is Public Safety 101.

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