Transport Action BC has ongoing concerns with certain aspects of Canada Line (CL) performance and the seeming unwillingness of TransLink to hold the concessionaire – InTransitBC and Protrans BC – publicly accountable for any shortcomings.
Significant service disruptions occurred on April 16, 2012, inconveniencing customers for most of the service day. The disruptions, centred on Olympic Village Station and affected service on the entire line. Anecdotal evidence from a TABC member indicates sporadic and crowded service. Possible cause(s) of the disruption have not been publicly released and media coverage of the incident was minimal.
Stalled train problems were also experienced at Olympic Village Station on the evenings of April 13 / 14, 2012. Again anecdotally, another TABC member heard that computer control issues requiring staff to monitor trains were, relatively, more frequent, prior to the April 16 incident.
It is unclear if these various incidents are related as there has been no public accounting.
Transport Action BC requested a detailed, open and public post-mortem on the disruptions. The Canada Line’s operating company has passed the two-year “learning curve” allowed in its contract . Performance penalties should be considered as part of TransLink’s response to the disruptions.
Furthermore, evening maintenance has affected Canada Line service many times in the past 18 months. This may be justified, but it seems excessive for a system less than three years old.
We are concerned that the perceived lack of action holding the concessionaire publicly accountable for Canada Line performance jeopardizes TransLink’s credibility and its ability to provide a reliable and attractive service. It also significantly weakens the original rationale to use a P3 model to build and operate the Canada Line.
Transport Action BC sent a letter to the TransLink Board on April 20, 2012 detailing our concerns but a response has not been received. This blog posting is an expanded version of the contents of that letter.
TransLink’s Chief Operating Officer responded to our concerns in a letter dated July 3, 2012.
The letter confirms that communications problems on April 13, 14 and 16, 2012 were related incidents. Troubleshooting was initially hampered by the sporadic nature of the loss of communications with the Operations Centre. Some equipment was replaced but this did not permanently correct the problem.
Eventually, a physical inspection of communications cables in the guideways found premature cable wear between Olympic Village and Yaletown stations, i.e. the section under False Creek. The cable was replaced and communications was successfully restored.
Unfortunately, the letter does not state why the cable experienced premature wear – the Canada Line had not even been in service for 3 years at the time. The letter hinted that performance penalties were applied for this major service disruption but did not explicitly state they had.
The letter also did not deal with the ongoing evening maintenance and resulting service disruptions that Transport Action BC raised in its original letter. These disruptions were still being reported in Nov 2012.