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Winter is coming! How TransLink prepares for wintry weather

Winter is coming! How TransLink prepares for wintry weather

Photo: Dennis Tsang

Winter officially doesn’t arrive for another month-and-a-half, but at TransLink, customer safety is our number one priority. In anticipation of adverse winter weather conditions, our operating companies have plans in place to ensure service stays as reliable as possible for you.

We work expeditiously before and during winter to ensure our buses — including our trolleybus fleet — and SkyTrain all continue to run smoothly, so that we can get you home safe. But, as you know, sometimes traffic woes and slippery roads mean there are some inadvertent delays.

Read on to find out what this means for your winter commute.


During heavy overnight snow, some trains run through the night to keep tracks clear.

With 70 kilometres of track on the Expo and Millennium lines and 19 kilometres of track on the Canada Line, SkyTrain is an important way to get around for many Metro Vancouverites.

We undertake various steps to ensure our SkyTrain system isn’t impacted because of overnight snow.

De-icer spray trains keep the power rail free of ice. During heavy overnight snow, some trains run through the night to keep tracks clear.

These trains spray a glycerin based product to de-ice the power rail to help keep a consistent electrical connection.

Canada Line heat tracing and cover-boards – This year, we installed two kilometres of heat tracing on power rail where heavy ice buildup caused service disruptions in February 2017. We also installed cover boards in exposed areas to protect the power rail from snow buildup. Both these installations reduce the risk of ice.


When snow piles up and ice forms, streets get messy and traffic can grind to a halt. We met with our counterparts at Metro Vancouver municipalities to discuss priority snow-clearing corridors. We also continue to improve how we prepare, respond and innovate to better serve our customers.

Our bus fleet is 1,400+ strong, and with ridership at a record high, we know that keeping you moving is important. After last year’s success in using tire socks, we are expanding the program to cover more buses in areas where snowy weather makes it tougher for our buses to access bus loops and stops.

If snow is heavy on Burnaby Mountain this year, we will deploy tire socks on buses between Production Way–University Station and SFU. This year, we will also use tire socks on 210 Upper Lynn Valley/Vancouver and 232 Grouse Mountain/Phibbs Exchange, if required.

Trolley bus wires anti-icing trucks – These trucks spray anti-icing agent to the entire 300-km electric trolley overhead system if there is risk of frost/ice.

Bus switch outs – If needed, we will switch articulated (60-foot) buses for traditional buses. Articulated buses can, indeed, carry lots of people, but our 40-foot conventional buses have better traction on hills in the snow.

DID YOU KNOW? Trolley de-icer trucks can cover 300 kilometers of wire in about six hours over an evening!


As a door-to-door service, HandyDART must travel down many side streets.

  • Prioritizing day programs – We contacted regular day programs in October to make them aware of HandyDART requirements for salting/sanding and access.
  • Targeting difficult locations – We are reaching out to customers with problem driveways/access to see if they have a clearing plan.

And of course, when and where needed, extra staff will be deployed, including SkyTrain Attendants and Transit Police, to assist customers in getting where they need to go.

Know before you go

  • If there is snow or ice, remember to dress for the elements, wear proper footwear and expect occasional service disruptions throughout the day.
  • Remember to plan ahead and give yourself extra travel time.
  • Check Trip Planner or for a mobile device, or sign up for transit alerts to be the first to know if there are changes to the transit schedule.
  • Follow our Customer Information team on Twitter, Facebook, and save 604-953-3333 on your mobile device.

Author: Chris Bryan and Tanushree Pillai


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