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TransLink 101: Where do our transit vehicles sleep at night?

TransLink 101: Where do our transit vehicles sleep at night?

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For February 2013, we’re going back to basics with TransLink 101—explaining TransLink and its work!

Buses settled in for the night.
Buses settled in for the night, in a photo from about 2006.

You ride our buses and trains during the day, but what happens when they go home at night?

Well, just like the rest of us, our vehicles need some downtime and TLC at the end of a long day of work. Each night, our SkyTrains, buses, SeaBuses and West Coast Express trains retire to their own resting places for a well-deserved break. Read on to find out just what happens!

SkyTrain

From 2009: two generations of SkyTrain car inside our operations and maintenance centre near Edmonds.
From 2009: two generations of SkyTrain car inside our operations and maintenance centre near Edmonds.

For most of our SkyTrains, the end of the day means heading over to our Maintenance and Storage Facility near Edmonds SkyTrain station (15 stay on the line overnight, some along the Millennium Line and near King George Station).

George Booth, vehicle supervisor, says trains start coming off the line in the evening reduced service times so cleaning can start at 7:30 p.m. and finish by 4 a.m. Crews work through the night cleaning, changing light bulbs, replacing seat covers and doing other maintenance as needed.

And, depending on the temperatures outside, some of the SkyTrains might even head over to our automated train wash (how fun is that?!?). It’s just like a car wash, but for SkyTrains!

Buses

A bus in the car wash at Surrey Transit Centre.
A bus in the car wash at Surrey Transit Centre.

There are also washing stations for the buses in our transit centres across the region, where our buses go home at night. There are seven bus transit centres all over the region, in Burnaby, Richmond, North Vancouver, West Vancouver, Vancouver, Surrey, Port Coquitlam.

Wim Beuk, maintenance manager, says that the length of the nightly routine varies at locations, depending number of buses. “Surrey, for example, with 185 buses, will have approximately 13 service people each work night that work from 8 p.m. through to 5:30 a.m., fuelling and cleaning the buses,” he says. “Maintenance trades staff for afternoons and night shifts will average approximately 18 people.”

West Coast Express

From 2010: the 6 a.m. West Coast Express train parked at Mission City Station.
From 2010: the 6 a.m. West Coast Express train parked at Mission City Station.

Kyla Daman-Willems, Marketing and Customer Service Supervisor at West Coast Express, says their trains retire in Mission for the evening. There is a full yard there and a crew works on the trains over night. “They have them all clean and fueled up for 5 a.m.!” she says.

SeaBuses

From 2010: the Burrard Pacific Breeze, sitting in one of the maintenance docks in Lonsdale Quay.
From 2010: the Burrard Pacific Breeze, sitting in one of the maintenance docks in Lonsdale Quay.

As for the SeaBuses, they head over to a couple of docks next to the Lonsdale Quay terminal for their nightly TLC.

One of the boats takes off early at 8 p.m. when the evening rush is over and gets a head start on maintenance and cleaning. Chris Bhardwaj, Supervisor, SeaBus Operations, says that head start also lets crews do major work if needed.

“Many times they even do an engine change over night,” he says, explaining that when needed, crews will take the whole engine out, replace it with a new one, and have the boat ready to go the next day.

All this means that by the time morning comes around, our vehicles are well-rested, fixed up, and ready to head out on the system to get back to work!

And that’s it! If you have any questions, please add them to the comments and we’ll track down an answer for you.