The mayor of Coquitlam is mounting a renewed push to see SkyTrain service extended late on weekends.
Richard Stewart is calling on TransLink to find a way to readjust its maintenance schedules to allow trains to run a few extra hours on Friday and Saturday nights, in order to ensure people can get home safely.
“A lot of our residents are clamoring for alternatives. The province is dragging its heels on ride-hailing, and as a result the taxis just don’t cut it, we can’t get cabs to the suburbs from downtown Vancouver,” he said.
WATCH: (Aired Dec. 17, 2017) TransLink to consider extended SkyTrain hours
Stewart said with the supply of late night transportation restricted, it means people headed back to the suburbs are at a higher risk of driving drunk or accepting potentially unsafe rides from strangers.
“Whose fault is it when the crash happens? We as a society need to not restrict the supply of a safe ride home,” he said.
“So we’re looking for ways to make the SkyTrain work better on the weekend.”
Stewart is being supported by Vancouver’s BarWatch, a safety-focused industry group made up of bars and nightclubs.
BarWatch chair and former Vancouver police officer Curtis Robinson said his group has been lobbying for extended train hours for a decade, saying it would amount to a “game changer.”
“It’s unacceptable, it presents a safety concern for not only our patrons but our staff members as well,” he said.
“At 3 a.m., people would know they have 15 minutes to get to the train and you would see a mass exodus … it would be safer, people would be less inclined to drink and drive their vehicles.”
Robinson said helping clear out the entertainment district would also take pressure off of Vancouver police, who are tasked with maintaining order and safety in the small hours of the weekend, when violence often breaks out.
TransLink is conducting a feasibility study on the idea, and says it is is listening to the appeals,
“We hear you guys,” said spokesperson Jill Drews.
“We know transportation options late at night in the city are very slim. And we want to provide a better service. What that service is remains to be seen. We are studying it, though, with the intent of producing something we can work with here to get people home safely after a night out.”
Drew said the challenge remains that running trains longer will cut into critical maintenance time — and that those hours must be made up at some point in the week.
“We cannot lose a second of that maintenance time,” she said. “It’s really down to the second.”
“So part of the study is looking at how maybe we can move them around to a different part of the week, looking at ridership, looking at costs, all the things we would need to do to confidently say ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ SkyTrain would work well late-night.”
Drews said TransLink is still speaking with stakeholders and going over some technical details, but hopes to be able to report back on the idea by early summer.