SkyTrain Fizzles Again

The problem with driverless transit systems is that when there is a problem, there is no driver to drive the damn thing if things go wrong.

As SkyTrain ages, stoppages like this will become more common.

Computer problems cause major SkyTrain disruptions

Crews are working to fix the problem, but it could take a while

News1130 Staff July 17, 2014


BURNABY (NEWS1130) ai??i?? If you know someone taking SkyTrain home this evening, they may be late.

The trains are not running east of Metrotown because of a computer problem.

Commuters are warned to expect major delays, Jiana Ling with Translink says crews are working to fix the problem, but she says there will be delays until at least 9 p.m.

The Millennium line is down between Braid and Sapperton and the Expo line is stopped between Royal Oak and King George. There is limited service from Waterfront to Metrotown station as well as Lougheed to VCC-Clark station.

A bus bridge is in place between Metrotown and King George where there is no service. Ling says they are advising customers to use the existing bus network as the bus bridge might not be as reliable.

She says the company understands the severity of the situation, and are thanking people their patience and are apologizing for the inconvenience.


Major SkyTrain delays snarl afternoon commute

By Staff Reporter, The Province July 17, 2014
Major SkyTrain delays snarl afternoon commute

The crowd at the Scott Road SkyTrain Station.

Photograph by: Jennifer Saltman , @jensaltman

An apparent computer glitch has prompted a system-wide hold on the Expo and Millennium Line SkyTrains on Thursday, stranding hundreds of passengers for hours and delaying transit service across the region.

Delays first began around 4:45 p.m. with intermittent service on various sections of the Expo and Millenium Lines.

Several trains carrying passengers were stopped on various parts of the system and had to be manually driven into stations to let passengers out.

At least one impatient passenger on board an Expo Line train car, halted between Columbia and Scott Road stations, pried open the trainai??i??s doors in order to walk along the track back toward the station, according to a witness on board.

Two hours after issues first arose, the Expo Line was up and running between Waterfront and Metrotown stations, but did not continue to King George. The Millennium Line was also running between Waterfront and Metrotown, and between VCC-Clarke to Lougheed stations, but not between Royal Oak and Braid.

Just after 6 p.m., SkyTrain attendants at Scott Road station also told some passengers it would be five hours before problems were resolved at the problem sections, while Fred Cumming, president and general manager of B.C. Rapid Transit Company, tweeted that a resolution would take two hours.

Many stations along the problem section appeared out of service for the remainder of the day, with gates closed.

Commuters were advised to make alternate travel plans or to take existing bus routes.

It remains unclear what prompted the initial hold, but passengers reported announcements at stations that said it was an electrical issue of some type and that delays could be long-term.

Ai?? Copyright (c) The Province


7 Responses to “SkyTrain Fizzles Again”
  1. Malcontent says:

    Well SkyTrain has been obsolete for decades. Two shutdowns within a week. (Last Saturday afternoon) pretty bad too how buses are force fed to skytrain (to pump the numbers) while leaving no alternate way for people to get home. Expect more breakdowns in the future and billions to fix and upgrade Expo then Millennium lines…

  2. Daniel says:

    Hey Zwei, the problem last night showed how you were telling us the truth all these years but noone listened to you. Time to tear down the Skytrain and build a lightrail in every street, bridge, side streets, pools, back alleys etc. Seriously hearing the news last night brought a smile on my face as I knew you’d get an erection after a decade.

    Zwei replies: In fact SkyTrain has been down many times this year but because it was during rush hour and TransLink let people roast in cars and not doing anything about it for an hour, makes it very newsworthy. The only reason I post when SkyTrain fizzles is because I am tired of the SkyTrain Lobby claiming that SkyTrain never breaks down.

    It is interesting that in the EEC it is illegal to operate a automatic public transit vehicle without an attendant on board. TransLink was damn lucky the fire brigade were not called out to rescue ill passengers. TransLink is incompetent and yesterdays fizzle was made even more unpleasant by TransLink’s incompetent response.

  3. Haveacow says:

    Well it would not be a Saturday morning if I wasn’t here at CHEO (Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario) holding my son Chris while he undergoes more tests. I thought I’d catch up on some work today and here we go, your Skytrain broke down due to a computer glitch. How many hours was the system out of action this time. You seem to have a lot of these computer glitches and “track issues” as well, during the colder months. Time to review maintenance guidelines and schedules again boys and girls. There seems to be a pattern forming here. I had the privledge a few weeks ago to speak to the former assistant head of maintenance at O. C. Transpo and the head of bus services department at the STM in Montreal. His grandson was getting a test at the same lab my son Chris was. He said something very interesting to me regarding constantly reoccuring transit vehicle and system breakdowns. His point was that, it may not be the technology but how it is maintained and the steps involved doing it.

    He used the example of engine problems on a specific class of bus here in Ottawa. It turned out it wasn’t the bus but when the way mechanics would do their preventative maintenance checks (PM’s). They would attempt to a specific test on the vehicle’s engines and readjust the engines as needed. The way they did the test was causing the problem because for some reason this class of vehicle was functionally very different then most of the other classes they had. It was discovered that, the maintenance staff refused to do the test the proper way on this class of bus because it took 4-5 times as long compared to the vehicles in the rest of the fleet. They were already causing very serious backlogs in the maintenance schedules. After some very tense meetings with the mechanics and other staff they reached an agreement to do the test the way it was supposed to be done but in return, to never purchase this class of bus, with the very different motors, from this particular manufacturer again, ever.

  4. the Cardinal says:

    Zwei, myself & other Light rail campaigners have been reporting the problems with Sky Train for years, every time we have raised concerns about the reliability of the system and its resilience on either this blog, in the press or with CoV engineers we have been howled down by the paid Translink activists Rico, Richard & Daryl.
    Once again they cannot ignore this latest outage by twisting the debate against the Light Rail lobby by refusing to answer important questions. The three of you are no better than 3rd rate grubby politicians.

  5. eric chris says:

    @ Haveacow, given how quickly TransLink pinpointed the problem, it was likely self inflicted during the upgrades to the system for the Evergreen Line. Just like how the IT whiz bangs in our company always seem to have the fix after they just finished upgrading software on our computers at work.

    Really, you alluded to the real problem with ST, it is not suited for urban transport and it is only a matter of time before a major disaster reboots transit here. For starters, there is no contingency for what happened last week. If someone panicked and had a medical emergency, he or she might have died due to the difficulty in reaching the stranded passengers hanging 10 metres in the air with no way for help to arrive. This is a major safety oversight and the ST design does not have escape routes.

    Second, the dullards at TransLink did not even consider taking the entirely redundant 99 B-Line off its service route to UBC to rescue passengers from the ST melt down. At UBC today on Saturday, the transit capacity on Broadway is 26 people per minute in one direction (ppm). Yet, the demand while I was waiting at the bank for 10 minutes at 11 am was about 25 people on West 10th Avenue (Broadway corridor) and Sasamat Street during peak transit time. That is, the demand is about 2.5 ppm or 10% of what TransLink offers at peak times on Broadway. Does Ottawa offer express 99 B-Line service every ~six minutes until 2:30 am and trolleybus service (actually diesel buses are running instead of trolleybuses for the third consecutive weekend) every ~10 minutes until 2:30 am to make the express BRT possible? Probably not.

    Third, the worm who heads ST, Fred Cummings, had no empathy for the riders and blamed them from prying open the doors to escape a potentially life threatening situation. If this creep took transit (he drives like 80% to 90% of the other managers, VPs, presidents… directors at TransLink) to work rather drive, he might not be so quick to blame the victims.

    Anyhow, The Province in its round about way gave RFTV a good plug on the ridiculous contention by “stylish” Daryl DC claiming in his blazer and sneakers that ST is faster than LRT. Elaine O’Connor who writes for The Province is a decent journalist who can’t come out and call the monkeys at TransLink, monkeys, and really wrote the article to discredit ST and the study by TransLink.

    Daryl DC has zero credibility and is destined to become a deadbeat TransLink employee or equally useless member of society. He has no qualifications as an academic or engineer and is referring to cooked up and biased studies that TransLink pays for to make ST appear superior to all other transit. TransLink’s study which Daryl DC refers to in the above story, directly contradicts independent and reputable studies by UBC and Shirocca Consulting:

    ST Speed
    Most people travel 5,000 metres or less in Vancouver and trams have an average speed ranging from 20 kilometres per hour to 30 kilometres per hour (25 kilometres per hour or 417 metres per minute on average). It takes about one minute to reach the closely space tram stop by foot and about 12 minutes to make the trip on the tram. On average, the trip on the tram takes about 13 minutes, notwithstanding the time for the tram to arrive at the stop.

    On the other hand, ST has an average speed of 40 kilometres per hour or 667 metres per minute, in its segregated guide way. To travel 5,000 metres on ST takes about 7.5 minutes. Walking 800 metres on average to the ST station at five kilometres per hour (83 metres per minute) takes ~10 minutes. So, to travel on ST takes ~17.5 minutes on average in Vancouver, notwithstanding the time for the ST to arrive at the station. In fact, ST relative to the tram increases the trip time by 35% (17.5 min – 13 min divided by 13 min = 35%) on average.

    Contest !!
    I’m more than fed up with Daryl DC and the buffoons at TransLink. How about holding a contest for the best ST horror story on RFTV? I’ll provide $1,000 for the best ST or BRT horror story and will offer an extra $200 as a bonus for a picture of gourmet coffee lover, Ian Jarvis, driving his gas guzzler rather than taking transit.

    Zwei replies: What the mainstream media did not report that these trains stalled in 30 C heat with rush hour crowds with no AC. After 40 minutes, the first attendants reached the cars but people were already abandoning the SkyTrain in droves. This meant that the power was turned off and what was a rush hour fiasco turned into a near catastrophe. Zwei has been reliably informed that Translink has been threatened with closure due to unsafe operating conditions by two senior fire chiefs after this latest fiasco. Local fire-marshals are investigating.

    At least with a tram, if it craps out, you can leave and find alternative transportation.

  6. Haveacow says:


    Although I am not a big fan of the Skytrain technology, I won’t go as far to say that it’s not suitable for public transport, it was designed for that purpose. I simply view the Skytrain technology like the cathode ray tube, functional but it is clearly out moded in many operational areas by the newer more efficient flat screen technology.

    As for buses running at night with high frequency, its really up to translink and its bean counters to prove its worth the money. I also don’t argue too many buses can be overly noisy but, they are needed for basic access to the city and area. As for Ottawa’s late night bus offerings here is a little recap. Bus Transitway route 95 runs every 15 minutes till 2:30-3:00 am and then runs every half hour all night till 6 am (depending on the day of course). The 97 route also a transitway route, operates till 3:30 am, after 1:30 am it runs every half hour. The 1,2 & 7 (non transitway routes) run till 2 am most days. Unfortunately, the O-Train normally runs till only 12 and Carleton students are forced to take the 7. However, right now the O-Train is out of service all summer after 10:00 pm to finish the work preparing the line for 7.5-8 minute frequency. Work that was supposed to be finished last summer. After 10 pm the O-Train is replaced by a shuttle bus #107. Most of the major surface routes inside the (inside the Greenbelt) operate till 12:30-1:00 am period. Less busy routes, inside the Greenbelt, shutdown around 10 pm. Outside the Greenbelt most of the surface routes shutdown way too early, between 9-10 pm leaving only the 90’s series transitway or major crosstown routes operating later.