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TransLink to beef up NightBus service, 24-hour SkyTrain ‘not an option’

Extended transit night service coming to bus lines, but not SkyTrain
WATCH: A new study on how TransLink's can improve night transit service recommends bus hours be extended. As Jill Bennett reports, anyone hoping for 24-hour SkyTrain service will be disappointed.

TransLink has released the results of a study on improving late-night transit service, and the result will be more buses at night — but no boost to SkyTrain service.

The changes will mean added NightBus service on the N17 and N19 routes in the fall, a simplified N15 route to connect to the Vancouver International Airport, and service increases on nine NightBus routes in 2020.

The independent, year-long technical study found that “the reality is SkyTrain was not built for 24-hour service” due to high maintenance requirements.

READ MORE: TransLink set to extend late-night service, but don’t bet on more SkyTrain

According to the study, running the train overnight on Fridays and Saturdays would mean TransLink would have to slash an hour from the end of weekday service and fully shut the system down on some statutory holidays.

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WATCH: TransLink set to reveal results of late-night service review

TransLink set to reveal results of late-night service review
TransLink set to reveal results of late-night service review

It also found the extended hours would come with a $20-million price tag, while potentially slowing down construction on the Broadway and Surrey SkyTrain extensions.

TransLink’s study also looked at options for NightBus expansion, and pitched a new overnight express bus program that would operate after SkyTrain shuts down for the night.

READ MORE: ‘It’s unacceptable’: Advocates mount renewed push for late-night SkyTrain service

The buses would follow the Expo and Millennium line routes, stopping at select SkyTrain stations, with end-to-end trips taking about 20 minutes longer than the train, TransLink said.

However it could be some time until those buses are on the road: TransLink said it can’t begin planning for the service until funding, estimated at about $4.4 million a year, is secured.

The agency is also making the NightBus District– a well-lit, central transit hub in the Granville Entertainment District — permanent, after a successful pilot project.