TransLink has changed the plan and any reduced frequencies apply only during evening hours. This is not a total win, but it is a far better solution than a frequency reduction throughout Saturdays and Sundays, for the same amount of savings. Also, no further frequency reductions on off-peak hours will take place. The change during evening hours was activated by BCRTC to improve operating efficiency. This adjustment may have to do with internal issues such as staff levels, and was not necessarily a TransLink demand for cost-saving purposes. Improvements in software and vehicle allocations are also taking place of service reductions to create cost savings, indicating that TransLink has made an effort to pursue alternatives to mitigate service reductions as much as possible.
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In the wake of growing transit ridership and growing transit need, a frequency reduction in the service that serves as the backbone of the entire Metro Vancouver transit system would be an irresponsible choice given the minimal savings and potentially large impact on ridership, ride quality and servicing ability.
Waits between trains on the SkyTrain Expo Line in Surrey and Millennium Line will increase from 6 to 8 during the weekends and potentially off-peak weekday periods as well, and from 8 to 10 during the late night. This is a big difference that will impact riders' abilities to catch connecting buses at SkyTrain stations - particularly in the late night hours - and get to their appointments on time.
With the savings so small (as low as 0.5% of the total annual savings proposed in a plan), why bother with such an impacting reduction of service?
TransLink should recognize the operational cost advantage of the SkyTrain and its technologies and commit to the SkyTrain off-peak frequencies that have been in place since 2002. Failing to do so may result in severe system-wide consequences in terms of transit ridership, mode-share and acceptability. The consequences may effectively offset the savings.
“Reducing the frequency of mid-day skytrain is silly. That’s when I do most of my riding and the trains are usually at least 3/4 full. Reducing the number of trains is going to make it feel like rush hour all day long.”
-Sheba on The Buzzer blog
- The minimal cost savings could be offset by a ridership decrease as a result of the less attractive service.
- Passengers connecting to less frequent suburban busses may experience difficulty planning and meeting their transfers, leaving them with much longer waits at bus stops.
- Businesses who depend on customers and patrons arriving by SkyTrain may lose money
- Surrey customers will be restrained from a more competitive and affordable alternate transit option across the river in the wake of the opening of the tolled Port Mann Bridge this December
- More crowded trains in addition to longer waits – less comfortable riding
1. The goal: TransLink commits to no SkyTrain service cuts
2. TransLink can opt to recoup the minimal savings through other means (the frequency reductions in the 2013 base plan make up less than 1% of the total proposed savings)
3. An agreement is reached between TransLink and the municipality or the province for the allowance of funding to keep the SkyTrain system’s off-peak frequencies at bay
Please see the campaign page at skytrainforsurrey.org/wewant6/ for more information!