TransLink expected to announce expanded late-night service

The possibility of 24-hour transit service on certain days in Metro Vancouver could soon be reality.

TransLink is scheduled to reveal the results of its Late Night Transit Service Review on Thursday morning, with significant increases in night service expected to be announced.

"I think people that rely on transit will be happy with what they hear," said Charles Gauthier, CEO of the Downtown Vancouver Business Improvement Association, who has already been briefed on what TransLink will announce.

While he didn't want to comment on the results of the review, his organization has long advocated for more late-night transit options.  

"We don't have many options available to us right now. We don't have ride-hailing in this province and that's being felt by a lot of people. We have a taxi industry that especially during the summer months [and] New Year's Eve and during the holiday season, they're unable to meet the demand that's out there," he said.

"And I think really the only option we have, other than people going and purchasing their own car, is relying on a more robust transit system to be operating on a 24-hour basis." 

CBC

Review 2 years in the making

Currently, rapid transit lines in Metro Vancouver close down at night for several hours depending on the route and day of the week.

But responding to demands from the public, police and other leaders, in 2017 TransLink announced a study on whether it should extend SkyTrain service in the Metro Vancouver region on Friday and Saturday nights.

TransLink had said the biggest hurdle to offering the service was balancing an increase in late-night service with having time to maintain the track.

Vivienne King, former president and general manager of the B.C. Rapid Transit Company — which operates SkyTrain on behalf of TransLink — said at the time of the review maintenance crews have roughly 1,500 hours per year available to them when the track is free.

Multiple people with knowledge of the review have told CBC that 24-hour SkyTrain service will not be among the options mentioned in Thursday's report.

Benefits both visitors and workers

The possibility of enhanced service was applauded by Vancouver Coun. Lisa Dominato, who has a motion in front of council to create a night-time economy strategy.

"I'm hopeful that we'll see more options for night service both within Vancouver but also to the other neighbouring municipalities," she said.

Dominato said expanded service was important not just for people visiting the downtown core late at night, but also working there.  

"People come to the city to enjoy our nightlife, whether that be going to restaurants, bars, musical events, concerts .... but we also have people who work at night and that we have to consider how are those people getting around to and from their jobs and to home."

It was a sentiment echoed by Gauthier.

"We really don't pay a lot of attention to the janitorial staff and security staff," he said.

"People that work in restaurants and nightclubs need to get back home, and with the affordability challenge that's currently being experienced in Vancouver and other parts of the region, people can't necessarily work close to where they live if it's downtown."