The wheezy SkyTrain – a real snow job!

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Again, SkyTrain embarrassed itself during the snowy Christmas holiday. For over a week TransLink announced fewer, longer trains, manual operation, service disruptions and complete systems shutdowns. SkyTrain is not a new system, being in operation 23 years, there should be no ‘Gremlins’ to fix, but SkyTrain proved again, when it snows in Vancouver DO NOT TAKE TRANSIT!

Saturday night was the climax when someone shot a video of an open door (1 of 3 open doors on the train) 10 metres above Stewardson way, between New Westminster Station and 22nd Ave. Station and posted to U-Tube and subsequently was a leading news feature on Sundays news programs.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lm-LjnkBm2s

TransLink’s spin doctors were hard at it, claiming it was a “one in a million” happening, etc. Sorry old chums no dice, as open doors on SkyTrain is an infrequent occurrence, only this time we have the video proof. The excuse that the “door alarms were turned off because technicians were working on the doors” is appalling and utterly stupid. Does TransLink regularly send technicians to repair SkyTrain while in revenue service? Does Work-safe BC condone this? Evidently transit customers protestations forced TransLink to take the train out of service at 22nd Ave. Station; why wasn’t it taken out of revenue service when the technicians started to work on the problem?

This week has been completely embarrassing for TransLink and the SkyTrain lobby, as they send out the ‘spin doctors’ to placate the transit customers over and over again. Sorry no dice, my friends – TransLink completely screwed up and continues to show that the organization is completely incompetent. What is even more unbelievable, Kevin Falcon and TransLink’s Brass want to build more SkyTrain in even snowier areas in the Tri-Cities and Surrey!

SkyTrain’s problems in the snow can be traced to major design flaws including.

  1. The Linear Induction Motors are only 1 cm. above the reaction rail and are prone to snow and ice damage.
  2. The outside sliding doors fail due to ice build up.
  3. The switches (movable frog switches) and switch motors are prone to ice and snow damage and cannot be operated manually, unlike failed switches on a at-grade LRT system which can be operates manually safely in case of problems.
  4. Poorly designed stations allows falling snow onto the tracks and sets of the anti-intrusion alarms.

Please note, that LRT has little difficulty operating in snowy conditions and during the recent great blizzard in Denver Colorado, the at-grade LRT system was the only public transit system left operating in the city.

VANOC must be shaking their heads with this years disastrous transit operations in the snow. Certainly it has showed the TransLink can’t be trusted to provide vital transportation in snowy conditions. The 2010 Winter Olympics must be the only Winter Olympics in history, where the Olympic Committee prays that there will be no snow!

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