Not so reliable, our SkyTrain – Eh?

SkyTrain is on the fritz again. The problem with proprietary transit systems is that they age very poorly.


SkyTrain delayed by communication system disruption

Vancouver Sun March 28, 2014

METRO VANCOUVER – TransLink says there are system-wide delays on SkyTrain today following a disruption to the communication system.

SkyTrain is running single-track between Broadway and Nanaimo stations. All Millennium Line trains will only travel between Columbia and VCC-Clark stations.

TransLink asks riders to allow for extra time when planning their journey on SkyTrain.


8 Responses to “Not so reliable, our SkyTrain – Eh?”
  1. Anonymous says:

    And other rail systems never have issues, old or not? Deleted libelous accusations.

    Zwei replies: Of course other rail systems have issues, but automatic transit systems have greater issues. SkyTrain is touted to have almost no stoppages what so ever, yet the reality is completely different. Now, if you had read a book on the subject…………….

  2. Rico says:

    You really need to check out TriMets site a bit to get a comparison with how often the Portland system experiences significant delays……

    Zwei replies: And Translink more honest in reporting problems and delays. TransLink plays a dirty little game, because there is no definite timetable (no 9:15 from Waterfront), delays are seldom recorded, unlike most LRT systems which have a timetabled service.

  3. Rico says:

    I am too lazy to look it up but I believe translink measures ontime performance by how close to the scheduled headways it achieves. As a transit ‘expert’ (cough) surely you know that if you are running high frequencies (say less than say 5 minutes) you should not care about timetabled services, you should care about headways. Think about it from the point of view as someone on Skytrain or LRT.
    Pretend you are using LRT in Toronto and consider anything within 3minutes of the scheduled timetable as ontime (I think that is the TTC standard). Now say there has been an issue on the line such that the 4:20 train is early 4:18…..but wait, you showed up for 4:20 and missed it, the next train is scheduled for 4:25 but is running late 4:27:58. Both trains are still within Toronto’s ontime performance standards but instead of 5 minutes between trains you have 10. As a rider that sucks. Pretend you are in Vancouver. Pretend Vancouver has a timetable. Of course since the trains come less than 2minutes apart you didn’t look at the schedule and just showed up at the station. An earlier problem resulted in the trains running 10minutes behind the hypothetical schedule. You show up at the station and just miss a train. The next train comes at its scheduled headway and you get in. Even though this fictional example is ‘late’ to you the rider it is perfectly on time. And even though the other example is on time to you the rider it sucks. That is why schedule ‘headway/reliability’ is more important than the timetable.

    Zwei replies: TransLink tends not to report train delays less then 5 minutes, but with 120 seconds headways or less, this has a cascade effect along the entire line which equals large delays along the entire system. Zwei has several commuters who use SkyTrain, who regularly report to me of system stoppages. I hear from them quite often. Rico, there is a reason why Translink is held in great disdain and ignored internationally, their reporting is questionable at best and no one cares. We have had SkyTrain up and running for 29 years and no one has copied Vancouver’s transit planning, nor the use of SkyTrain, yet scores of transit authorities have come and observed Skytrain in operation. These outfits tend to see through the BS meter.

  4. Rico says:

    ps wouldn’t you just love to see the Skytrain schedule (6:01, 6:03, 6:05…………), you could print it out and put it up in the stations. By the time you found the right spot on the schedule 4 trains would have gone by…..

    Zwei replies: London Underground does it.

  5. Haveacow says:

    Actually if service is below 4 minutes it is uncommon in North America to schedule individual trains. What is generally done is a time specific gap between trains is established. This is especially common in subway/metro systems where a short frequency and a physically long system makes for a very large number of individual operating trains and scheduling for each would be needlessly complicated. This is especially true in systems where after peak service the frequency increases back to a easily scheduled number of trains or vehicles. What appears on the schedule for the customer is a specific time followed by a statement that says, frequent service at this time, then at a specific time schedule service begins again. There is usually a brief period after peak where service is still frequent because this allows the system time to remove the extra peak trains from service.

  6. Haveacow says:

    The need for complicated individual scheduled times for trains is only needed when a trunk and branch service has been established. Where trains from specific branches need to be essentially plugged into a specific time block in the trunk section of service. This brings up the old debate about whether at some point a branch should just be its own line and allow a passenger transfer station to develop (assuming it is easy and convenient) to the former trunk line. This has the effect of simplifying the whole scheduling process.

  7. Haveacow says:

    The overly complicated individual scheduling needed in a trunk and branch service is partially what did in our transitway system. Our transitway operates in a open busway format (allows for a trunk and branch system) compared to a closed busway format where each busway is a separate line or series of lines. Closed busways are cheaper and simpler to operate but require transfers. While a open busway allows more direct service to a specific point but fills up faster (literally and operationally) is more costly to run and generates very low service frequency to outer areas of the network.

  8. eric chris says:

    Sky train is also a magnet for crime, no commenting allowed on the CBC story, but at least the CBC reported it:

    The Vancouver Sun made sure not to mention shooting and sky train in the headline:

    It will all be forgotten by the media quickly, and the Vancouver Sun receiving a lot of cash for advertising from TransLink will soon follow up with a feel good story about sky train.