Monday, December 22, 2008

Winter Weather

While riding transit and walking around both Vancouver and Downtown Langley the last few days, I have had the following observations. 1.) Businesses, Stratas, and Joe Landowner really need to clear their sidewalks. Where I grew up (Vernon), if you didn’t clear your sidewalk the city would come and clear it for you. You'd then get a nice bill from the city. Now I realize that it only snows for about two weeks a year in the South Coast, but sidewalk clearing is a major safety issue and needs to happen. I found myself walking on the road last night and today because the sidewalks in some parts of Langley were impassable.

My second observation is this: SkyTrain does not work well in the snow. I applaud the efforts of SkyTrain staff that worked all day to remove snow buildup with hockey sticks so the SkyTrain doors would close (and I can only imagine the other behind-the-scenes work that was going on), but it really speak to the lack of robustness in SkyTrain’s design. Snow was even blowing through the doors when they were closed.

Maybe someone that knows more about SkyTrain can comment on why the system doesn’t handle bad weather. In Calgary when there was bad weather, it seemed the only thing that would run was the light rail system. The doors opened and closed without issue. Signaling and control worked. And while this would not be needed in Vancouver, all the switch gear was heated to prevent freezing. It just seems very strange that the SkyTrain system, which is one of the most expensive types of systems in the world, can’t handle 10cm of snow. Light rail and streetcar work in all weather.


Anonymous said...

I took SkyTrain today and it was fine. Only one hockey stick-wielding staffer, and a bit of swaying around the Edmonds station.

Light Rail Guy said...

The problem with SkyTrain and snow is the Linear Induction Motor.

Two problems occur in the snow.

The LIM mist be 1 cm. above the reaction rail (the metal plate in the middle of the tracks) and any ice or snow build up, more than 1 cm. scores the LIM causing shorts or worse. There has been incidents where ice build up on the reaction rail was so great that it derailed the SkyTrain car.

The other problem is blowing snow and ice shorts out the electrics associated with the LIM, which are located under the car.

No wonder than LIM powered transit systems are not popular at all as any benefit is at once negated by the LIM and its many problems in revenue service.