Did TransLink act on 1992 SkyTrain safety review by TTC?

(Victoria, 31 July 2014) – IntegrityBC is calling on TransLink to disclose what changes were made to SkyTrain’s emergency protocols following the Toronto Transit Commission’s review of SkyTrain safety in 1992.

The Toronto Transit Commission’s review – which may have looked at other issues including fare evasion – was a response to a three-hour SkyTrain shutdown in 1991.

That shutdown was raised in the B.C. legislature by then MLA Grace McCarthy during question period. Responding to McCarthy’s question, Municipal Affairs minister Lyall Hanson stated: “The difficulty, which everyone may not know, was not in the failure of the computer; that’s what stopped the train. The time it took to get it back into service was the difficulty.”

Hanson went on to note: “The system we have in place now is being modified, hopefully to be in effect this fall. That will let us put SkyTrain back into service immediately…The number one issue, of course, is passenger safety…”

If passenger safety was priority one for the minister in 1991, then why was TransLink CEO Ian Jarvis so stunned to see passengers walking along the tracks last Monday in 2014?” asked IntegrityBC executive director Dermod Travis.

The organization noted that emergency readiness should be at the core of any transit system’s operations, including plans for both foreseeable and unforeseeable events.

Service disruptions are not unheard of with mass transit systems, including those using similar technology to SkyTrain,” said Travis.

If TransLink didn’t have a plan in place for a system-wide shutdown following the 1991 disruption, the 1992 Toronto Transit Commission safety review and input after a three-hour shutdown in 1993, then someone was asleep at the switch.”

While IntegrityBC believes former GO Transit CEO Gary McNeil is eminently qualified to review TransLink’s response to system disruptions this month, taxpayers also have a right to know if the corporation acted on the 1992 safety review and later input. Otherwise, TransLink risks paying $1,200 a day to Mr. McNeil to hear what it may have already been told.

According to a CTV interview with TransLink executive Fred Cummings, who is in charge of rapid transit, a backup computer system that could run the SkyTrain in the event of breakdown would cost $20 million. Travis noted that’s $3 million less than TransLink’s current cost overruns on the Compass Card.


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For more information:

Dermod Travis, Executive Director