The SkyTrain bridge connecting Surrey with New Westminster is being single-tracked for upgrades during the biggest bump-up in ridership since the beginning of the pandemic.
Service from July 31 to August 7 and August 14 to August 21 will be single-tracked between Columbia Station and Scott Road Station as construction crews replace expansion joints that are more than 30 years old. TransLink CEO Kevin Quinn told the Mayors’ Council on Regional Transportation on Thursday that the joints have reached the end of their useful lives.
“We’re going to keep customers moving as quickly as possible between stations,” Quinn said. “We’ll have trains crossing two at a time in each direction providing 15-minute service during peak periods and at other times one train will cross in each direction providing 12-minute service. And of course we’ll have SkyTrain staff out there on-site to assist customers at the affected stations in Surrey and New Westminster, and to monitor service levels.”
This is happening as ridership is increasing along the line during weekdays and weekends.
“The week of July 12 was actually the highest week of ridership since the start of the pandemic nearly 18 months ago,” Quinn said. “For that week, total system-wide boardings were 48. 2 per cent of pre-COVID ridership levels. As you can imagine this jump in ridership is very welcome news, and certainly a move in the right direction.”
Since the summer of 2020 SkyTrain ridership levels plateaued at 40 per cent of pre-COVID levels, Quinn noted, “so we’re so pleased to see more customers returning to the system this summer and we certainly expect to see ridership continue to increase in the weeks ahead as more of the provincial health officer’s restrictions are lifted.”
Quinn addressed the council just six days into his job, coming from Baltimore where he was CEO of the Maryland Transit Administration.
New Westminster Mayor Jonathan Coté, chairman of the mayors’ council, remarked that it’s “encouraging to see some life starting to come back in ridership increase.”
“I was recently taking the SkyTrain and I didn’t get a seat for the first time in probably well over a year and a half,” he said. “I’m going to take that as a positive sign for our system and I think we know we still have a long way to go and we need to make sure people feel comfortable and safe on our system but we do need to get our riders back, it’s critically important to our transportation system and our public transit system.”