Translink says it was an employee who caused yesterday’s massive Skytrain shutdown.
An electrician installing a circuit breaker for the new Evergreen Line accidentally tripped up the main breaker feeding the Skytrain operations centre.
The power outage halted trains and made it difficult for announcements to be made over the PA system.
That employee has now been suspended.
Meanwhile, union leaders are quickly speaking out in his defence.
The man’s name hasn’t been released, but he’s being described as a longtime employee.
Tony Rebelo with Cupe 7000 says the suspension is disturbing because this was clearly an accident and the work being done was ordered by management.
“Management directed our member to do the work on this panel, despite knowing the panel’s poor design and the high risk of failing while it was worked on live. At this time, we feel the company failed to do a risk assessment of the work that was going to be undertaken on such a highly critical piece of electrical equipment.”
Rebelo also says the worker shouldn’t have been suspended before the investigation was complete.
Passengers were waiting for as long as five hours for the system to return to normal, or for a bus to arrive and take them on an alternate route.
Translink chief operating officer Doug Kelsey admits having two major, unrelated disruptions in less than a week is “unprecedented,” but he insists the system is reliable most of the time.
“To keep this system running safely, which we did yesterday, we will be reviewing our operating practises, as well, to try to minimize this from happening again.”
Kelsey also says mistakes are bound to happen
“Anytime you have electronics, nature, people and power together, sometimes things go wrong.”
Despite the epic delays, he says there is no need to cost taxpayers millions of dollars by changing the power structure.
“We will look at our practices, I think that’s just good business as anybody should. But, we will not revisit the power structure.”
Customers are being compensated with a free day of transit on Monday, Aug. 4, the B.C. Day holiday.
Kelsey says he understands not everyone’s going to be satisfied with a free day of travel on a holiday, but:
“We think BC Day is a very good day for this and no matter when you do it, it may not be appropriate for everybody. It is going to take us a number of days to get ready.
“We are going to staff up for this and we think B.C. Day is also a good day. A lot of people will be using the system because they in fact may not be working.”