TransLink accepts all 20 recommendations in independent review of SkyTrain service

November 18, 2014

TransLink is acting on all 20 recommendations of an independent expert review of SkyTrain. The report, prepared by Toronto’s GO Transit former president Gary McNeil, estimates the cost of implementing the recommendations at $71 million. The recommendations aim to:

  • reduce the frequency and duration of service disruptions
  • ensure timely evacuation of passengers in the event of a prolonged disruption
  • strengthen the resilience of the system so it can recover from breakdowns more quickly; and
  • provide clear and frequent communication with customers on the trains, in and around the stations, and on buses.

The Independent Review: SkyTrain Service Disruptions on July 17 and July 21, 2014 states that the July incidents “showed vulnerability in some of the system elements, and highlighted customer service issues that needed to be rectified.”

TransLink CEO Ian Jarvis said the unprecedented service disruptions in July were “unacceptable to customers, and unacceptable to us.”

“Customers had every right to be angry and frustrated, especially those who were stuck on trains for a prolonged period in the heat. We must make sure that never happens again,” he said.

“We have taken these incidents very seriously, and we fully accept and are acting on all 20 recommendations. We have already started the work.”

Following the incidents, TransLink acted immediately to improve the way it prevents, prepares for, and responds to service disruptions.

“Now, with Mr. McNeil’s report in hand, we have a clear plan of action that will boost SkyTrain’s reliability, ensure that passengers remain safe, and improve our customers’ experience with this vital regional service,” said Jarvis.

One of the key actions already underway is an evacuation plan that aims to get staff to every single train within 20 minutes of a prolonged service disruption.

The Passenger Address speakers on trains and in stations will also be upgraded, and PA speakers and emergency information panels will be installed at each station entrance.

Jarvis said he was pleased with McNeil’s finding that SkyTrain is a safe system.

The report states that: “In analyzing the July incidents, it is important to note that SkyTrain is a safe system. Very few ‘accidents’ occur on the overall system, and none have been related to the train control system. The various system elements performed in a safe mode, as intended.” (Page 4).

In conducting the review, Mr. McNeil took into account inputs from a wide variety of sources:

  • Interviews with TransLink and operating companies, including front-line staff
  • Approximately 250 customer comments related to the two SkyTrain disruptions, in addition to thousands of tweets and social media postings
  • Experience of peer agencies, from cities such as Toronto, San Francisco and London, England

Some of the recommendations include:

  • Adding the “auto restart” component to SkyTrain’s SELTRAC system to reduce the duration of delays when major failures occur to the “command and control” communication function between trains.
  • Installing system continuity equipment for critical system elements. These “redundancies” for system continuity will ensure the critical functions remain active in the event of a system failure.
  • Upgrading the guideway intrusion system to better detect false alarms, which will reduce the frequency of service disruptions.
  • More resources and a robust plan for quickly and safely evacuating passengers from trains during major service disruptions.
  • A better Passenger Address System, including PA speakers and emergency information panels at each station entrance.
  • Increasing the visibility of front-line staff.

The cost estimates in the report are preliminary, and TransLink is now developing detailed plans and budgets. The entire scope of work is expected to take up to five years to complete.

Independent Review: SkyTrain Service Disruptions on July 17 and July 21, 2014

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