With another wallop of winter weather, it’s been chaos on the roads.
That’s meant pain for drivers and transit commuters – with big bus delays, and even a couple of major disruptions on the less than 10-year-old Canada Line SkyTrain.
With Environment Canada now warning of a winter storm tomorrow, complete with snow and freezing rain, we checked in with TransLink CEO Kevin Desmond for an update on how they plan to handle the nasty weather.
LISTEN: TransLink CEO weighs in on snow response
Desmond says TransLink’s fleet of buses is only as good as the roads they’re on, and Tuesday’s commuter chaos was due in most part to the snow coming down so hard and so fast, cities just couldn’t handle it.
“I don’t know that any of the municipalities could have kept up with the duration of the snow- that said, just like if you’re in your car, our buses can only operate where the streets are passable, so we do our best under those situations.”
He also dismissed the idea the transit authority invest in snow tires, saying bigger, snowier cities such as Toronto and Montreal don’t use them – and which he says are better suited to dry snow, not the wet stuff we get here.
“The folks at the bus company have looked at snow tires over the years, the supplier of our tires – Michelin – recommends all-weather tires – which are ideal for rain, which is typically what we get throughout the winter. This has obviously been an unusual winter,” he says.
“The key is really getting the roadways cleared of the snow and ice.”
Desmond also defended crowding on the Millennium and Expo SkyTrain lines, which he says are running full steam during rush hour.
“Clearly, a lot of people were choosing transit, and not driving during the snow. During the peak period, we have no additional trains to put out. We have the maximum number of trains available.”
He says with Wednesday’s storm likely to roll in during rush hour, if people can sneak out of work early, then TransLink will be looking to add extra trains at pre-peak hours to get them home.
As for the Canada Line, Desmond acknowledged the snow has been causing unforeseen problems.
Both Monday night’s and Friday snow caused trains to get stuck on the bridge crossing from Vancouver to Richmond, and it’s still not clear what the solution is.
“We’ve been talking intensively with the operator of Canada Line throughout today to try to understand what they’ve done to try to prevent that,” Desmond says.
He says it’s tricky because the bridge is steeper than any other incline in the system. Crews have been using de-icing solution and sand to try and get extra traction.
But, he says after the last two disruptions, crews think they’re prepared for Wednesday’s weather.