TransLink’s CEO said the transit authority is studying the feasibility of extending SkyTrain hours on Friday and Saturday nights, even though it creates a very difficult problem for maintenance crews to overcome.
Expanding weekend SkyTrain hours was just one of several issues Kevin Desmond discussed with Global BC anchor Chris Gailus in an expansive year-end interview.
He said they’re looking closely at extending late-night service on Friday and Saturday nights. One of the concern is that expanding operating hours could reduce the time for track maintenance.
WATCH: TransLink to consider extended SkyTrain hours
“Our service ends around 1:30 at night, starts up again around 5 a.m, precious little time for our maintenance to get on the right-of-way,” Desmond said. “In our industry, maintaining our assets is really, really important.”
He said keeping the SkyTrain running two nights per week would mean around 500 fewer hours per year for maintenance.
“If we didn’t have those 500 hours, that’s the equivalent of another two hours a night the other five days of the week,” he said. “Would we envision shutting the system down at 11, 11:30 at night the other five days of the week? I don’t know that that’s a great trade-off.
“Are there other operating patterns we could run? But it comes with a trade-off of time and quality on the train.”
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Desmond saidplanning for the Canada Line may have been shortsighted, saying the line that links Richmond to Downtown Vancouver is “at capacity now during the rush period.”
He said TransLink recently entered an agreement to add 24 trains for the Canada Line, and future expansion may be necessary.
“I’m still the new kid on the block to a certain degree, coming from outside,” he said. “I don’t want to throw anyone else under the proverbial bus, so to speak.”
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Nevertheless, he said the Canada Line was “under-built… I’ve seen that happen in a lot of different transit investments, at least throughout North America, funding is tight. And I applaud this region for getting the line done, it’s been a very innovative project, it was done in time for the Olympics, it’s super, super successful.
“Clearly, the development around the line, the demand on the line, has overtaken what all the planners had expected. So in retrospect, you look back, and that’s just Monday morning quarterbacking,” he added.
Rather than looking to the past, TransLink needs to focus on the future, saying demand for transit will no doubt grow as the region’s population is expected to expand by one million people in the next 20 to 30 years, Desmond said.
“It’s a great problem to have,” he said.
- With files from Ted Field