TransLink is apologizing after a seven-hour shutdown of a section of the Expo Line caused huge delays and severe crowding for SkyTrain passengers Tuesday morning.
Trouble with a section of power rail that was improperly installed during overnight maintenance work near Main Street station caused system-wide delays.
Transit riders took to social media to vent, with some reporting their trip to downtown Vancouver took two to three hours after waiting for bus bridges or shuttle trains to carry them between Joyce and Main Street stations.
“I am one of your biggest supporters, but today’s nightmare was an epic fail on all parts,” Tracey Flattes wrote on TransLink’s Facebook page.
She was among many passengers who complained of poor communication by TransLink and insufficient help from staff for the throngs that were packed into SkyTrain stations awaiting trains.
“I understand that things happen that are out of control, but things that are should be managed properly, and weren’t,” added Kris Liu, who cited “terrible communication, inadequate buses and misinformed staff.”
Others gave up altogether.
“I spend 25 minutes waiting for a bus, then when it finally comes and I have to make a transfer to another bus, it comes but is completely full,” recounted Julia Hart. “Ten minutes later, another one comes, and it too is completely full. I give up and come back home, missing a $200 class.”
Many passengers are calling on TransLink to compensate them for the morning disruption.
“Today has been the absolute worst,” said Chris Keehn. “Where are our refunds?”
The shutdown began just before 6:30 a.m. and normal service was restored on SkyTrain just after 1:30 p.m.
TransLink spokesman Derek Zabel said the power rail installation error caused damage to the collector shoe assembly of a train, which in turn ripped up a section of communications cable.
“We certainly apologize to our customers who experienced delays today and hopefully we can earn the right to continue to serve them in the future,” Zabel said.
“This was a major service disruption for customers right in the middle of the morning commute.”
A previous SkyTrain shutdown in early July was not related to the power rail replacement project, which will continue for several more months.
Zabel said TransLink has no capability to issue refunds, although that may be an option after Compass cards are rolled out.