Public transportation after the Games: where do we go from here?
March 05, 2010
With the end of the 2010 Winter Olympics, public transit in Metro Vancouver is shifting back to pre-Games capacity. TransLink CEO Ian Jarvis notes the transit service that was in place just prior to the Games reflected a new peak in service levels that resulted from the significant expansion TransLink provided over the past five years. Jarvis says these service levels will largely be sustained as a result of the Mayors’ Council approval of TransLink’s $130 million funding supplement last October, although he says there will be adjustments to improve the cost efficiency of the transit network.
“In moving about half again as many people per day during the Games as we normally do, we’ve been able to show the people of Metro Vancouver how well their transit system can work for them,” Jarvis says. “While we’ve made the point that we’re not financially able now to expand services or to sustain the service levels seen during the Games, we’ve proven that with the right conditions in place – funding, TravelSmart options, key destinations next to high-capacity transit and incentives to use that capacity – our transit network can move many more people and perform at very high level.”
“Our service performance during the Games came about in part because we had a good transportation plan, created with our partners at the Ministry of Transportation, VANOC and the cities of Vancouver and Richmond. But we also had the benefit of a basic transit system that has been expanded, modernized and well-maintained, backed by skilled staff from all parts of the enterprise that kept service performance at an extremely high level and focused on providing the best possible customer experience,’ he says.
Jarvis says the Games-related service increases were funded through TransLink’s agreement with VANOC, and that transit service levels now will depend on its regular operating budget. However, he notes that total transit service will hit a record 7.1 million operating hours in 2010 thanks to the full-year impact of services introduced at various times throughout 2009.
Bus service has the ability within contingencies included in the current budget to provide ‘special events’ service boosts for such things as sports events, the Celebration of Light or an occasional spike in foot passenger volumes on BC Ferries.
SkyTrain is again on its pre-games starting and finishing times, but capacity has been increased significantly over the past year by new cars allowing for longer trains on the Expo/Millennium Line (4-car Mark IIs and 6-car Mark Is) as needed to move more people at once. Canada Line will go back to 14-train operation, but has the flexibility to move up to 6 more trains into service, if needed.
By year’s end, West Coast Express will run longer trains to move more people at once. Seven new cars will begin arriving from Bombardier in July: these will first replace other cars, so they can go in for overhaul and refurbishing (new seats, carpets, etc.), and when that work is complete, the new cars will be added to the trains.
SeaBus returned to “two boat” service on March 1, with the MV Burrard Beaver and MV Burrard Pacific Breeze, which was launched last year, doing most of the work, while the MV Burrard Otter will be berthed, to be used as a substitute if one of the other two has to go for maintenance. It will also be put into service from time to time so it can stay operational. For the time being, all three ferries are being kept, in the expectation that operating funds for three-boat service will be provided in a future budget.
“Special Event” service levels will operate for the Opening Ceremonies of the 2010 Paralympic Winter Games on March 12th at BC Place Stadium. “Special Event” levels will also ensure capacity is in place for the 20 Sledge Hockey events at UBC’s Thunderbird Arena and the 17 curling draws at the Vancouver Paralympic Centre (the new curling rink next to Queen Elizabeth Park). More details about that will follow closer to the time.