Tuesday, December 11, 2012

When the SkyTrain goes down, information is key

Every so often the SkyTrain has technical difficulties, police incidents, and medical emergencies which prevents service from running. It happens a few times every year and when it does, chaos for transit riders normally ensues. I was subject to such a breakdown on Sunday. There was a track problem that resulted in Gateway, Surrey Central, and King George SkyTrain station being shutdown. When I got off the bus at King George, I was greeted by a closed station with no information. I ran back onto the bus (as did everyone else) to Surrey Central. At Surrey Central the station was also closed, but at least there was a flip-board sign that said a bus bridge to connect to the functioning parts of SkyTrain was in place though it didn’t mention where to get on the bus. Luckily, I found the bus because it said “Special” and was surrounded by TransLink security. Anyway, I got thinking that there has got to be a better way to handle these situations which will come up from time-to-time.

I can’t remember where, maybe Downtown Calgary, but they actually had permanent signage in place for bus shuttle service when their rail system had a disruption of service. This would be extremely usefully in Vancouver too. Instead of the mass confusion that occurs when the SkyTrain goes down, TransLink would already have signage installed that says “In the event of SkyTrain disruption, please use bus shuttle service from Bay 1”. There would be clear signage at the SkyTrain station entrances and at the shuttle bus bay. They could even make the signs a highly visible colour. When the next disruption occurs, people would see the signage and know where to get service to complete their journey. Riders may not get as confused or worked up. It would also show that TransLink is prepared for this kind of stuff and may improve customers’ perspectives of the agency.

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