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Rail Talk #2 with SkyTrain CEO Doug Kelsey

Check out the second series of Rail Talk videos with Doug Kelsey, SkyTrain’s president and CEO.

Rail Talk is a series of candid question and answer sessions that Doug does with members of the TransLink Listens online customer survey portal.

The first series from September 2008 focused on SkyTrain security questions, but this series was open to general questions. Doug answers inquiries about our snowy Christmas service, plans for the Olympics, and more. (By the way, the webcast was recorded before the Olympic Transportation Plan announcement, so that’s why Doug’s answers are not detailed.)

The Rail Talk sessions are originally done as one-hour webcasts, and then split into shorter clips so that everybody can see them on YouTube.

And before you ask, here’s why nobody looks into the camera in this set of clips. Both a webcam and a video camera were set up to record the Rail Talk session—and Doug and Drew Snider from TransLink media relations were focused on just the webcam to connect with the customers participating in the original webcast :)

The first clip above answers the following question:

During the Christmas snow “storms” accomodation was made on the Sky Train to increase the train frequency & hours, as well as some municipalities stepping up to accomodate parking for transit riders. The challenge was for those of us living East of Surrey (i.e.West Langley) who still needed to get into Surrey, and the bus service wasn’t adequate. What plans are in place to improve this situation for Olympic Games time, weather related emergencies, or regular commuting times?

I’ve provided the rest of the questions below, linked to each of the appropriate YouTube clips. But if you’d like to watch the whole webcast continuously, we’ve also created this playlist that goes through all the clips in order.

Sorry for the typos — the questions are entered exactly as typed by the public!

Q1. During the Christmas snow “storms” accomodation was made on the Sky Train to increase the train frequency & hours, as well as some municipalities stepping up to accomodate parking for transit riders. The challenge was for those of us living East of Surrey (i.e.West Langley) who still needed to get into Surrey, and the bus service wasn’t adequate. What plans are in place to improve this situation for Olympic Games time, weather related emergencies, or regular commuting times?

Q2. Is there any plan in place to increase the SkyTrain frequency over the lunch period? (11:30-1:30)

Q3. how much is the fares going up for the improvements if so how much

Q4. I had difficulty getting info on the delays and changes during the snowstorm. What is being done to get better information out to the user where they need it? i.e. waiting at a stop.

Q5. Is there consideration to allow for fare management during critical events? By which I mean reducing fares, or allowing for some type of tax benefits for fares purchased at these times to encourage use?

Q6. waiting for bus for me i always have to wait 1 hr for next bus to arrive here in surrey no matter what way i am going

Q7. I would like to use Skytrain more, but getting from Langley to the King George station simply takes too long by bus. There was a plan suggested last year to place an express bus (similar to the West Coast Express) from Willowbrook to downtown or King George – where are these plans at?

Q8. Even with the universities being closed for students, there will still be significant numbers of people who work on campus who will have to get to work. Plus UBC is an Olympic venue What are you planning for that? Will you ask the university to completely close down for the Olympics?

Q9. Are skytrain train service levels planned to be increased/improved during the twinning of the Port Mann project, which will undoubtably increase vehicular traffic delays/congestion on Highway 1 for a very long period?

Q10. Do we know (percentage-wise) how close we currently are to Sky Train capacity

Q11. holding door what about them opening up on there own while running. many times the train has been so full they are pressed up against the door – so dangerous

Q12. Are there accommodations planned for skytrain to improve cellular service for riders, or possibly allow wireless Internet access on train?

Q13. during the olypics what about lowering the price of transit and then maybe the cars on the road would be lessend – what about this idea

Q14. what about security – i go to burrard station but get on at gateway an maybe once in a 7 day trip i have only had one officer on my train. you say security has in crease but i don’t see it (clarify one officer only one day out of 7).


9 Comments

  • By Marcin, April 24, 2009 @ 1:16 pm

    A reason I have heard put forward on a few occasions for why SkyTrain cannot be run 24 hours a day is that night time is the only time that necessary track maintenance can be performed. One way around this is to run trains down a single track in areas requiring maintenance, and do the work on the track that is not in use. Middle of the night service would not be very frequent, so trains could surly be scheduled to pass the single-track sections while alternating directions. Is there a reason this would not be feasible?

  • By Jhenifer Pabillano, April 24, 2009 @ 1:18 pm

    Marcin: I’ll ask about it.

  • By Daryl, May 20, 2009 @ 3:33 pm

    Got arbitrarily detained and physically abused at the Holdem Sky Train Station on the evening of May 19, 2009. Who accepts service for litigation?

  • By Jhenifer Pabillano, May 28, 2009 @ 9:50 am

    Marcin: here’s the response I have from SkyTrain:

    It may sound simple enough to run the trains for 24 hrs while doing maintenance on the tracks but in reality, it is not.

    We can perform track maintenance in one area while doing another at the same time. This means that the power would be shut down in one area and it will also be down in another. For example, we could be doing maintenance in an area
    near Joyce station and at the same time, we could be doing some work by Metrotown or Columbia.

    Not only does this add additional travel time for
    passengers but it also has significant impact on the cost and staffing throughout. There are significant logistical challenges as well to
    maintaining train operation with power and the train control system.

    The majority of other systems do shut down at night, and SkyTrain’s length of service day is comparable to, and sometimes exceeds, those of many large cities, including Toronto, Montreal, London and Paris. Many of those systems also operate shorter hours on weekends.

  • By Marcin, June 17, 2009 @ 2:18 am

    Thanks for looking into it Jhenifer!

  • By Laura, September 24, 2009 @ 10:44 am

    Is it possible for the SkyTrain to be open for an extra two hours at least on Friday and Saturday nights? Closing at 1:30 means that people downtown at bars and clubs either have to leave before it closes or find their own way home which leads to drinking and driving.

  • By Jhenifer Pabillano, September 24, 2009 @ 11:17 am

    Laura:

    Sadly enough, even an hour extension in service would have a significant impact on our ability to perform track maintenance.

    The Vancouver Sun did a great article on night shift transit workers that might help illuminate what track maintenance means. The duties include inspection and oiling of 90 track switches every two weeks, and removal of debris accumulating on the track. For all this the electric rail has to be off so the workers won’t be harmed — they get around on a little diesel service vehicle.

  • By Sungsu, September 24, 2009 @ 12:16 pm

    Perhaps if the NightBus were better publicized, more people would know that they have options for getting home, pretty much until the morning buses and trains start running.

    A map showing just the night bus routes would be helpful, like the Paris Noctilien map.

  • By James Santibanez, September 27, 2009 @ 5:26 pm

    I saw Doug Kelsey the other day when I went to school @ Metrotown Station.

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