SkyTrain delayed? Don't stress: Take that down time as a coffee break!

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SkyTrain Breakdown TransLink

Vancouver, when the SkyTrain stops running in the middle of your commute, don’t worry so much about where you were trying to go. Instead, treat it like a bonus coffee break, and go spend your disposable income at one of the city’s many cafes or restaurants.

Sound a little indulgent? Well, that’s pretty much what TransLink spokesperson Cheryl Ziola told the media this week when another afternoon’s commute on the Expo and Millennium lines was shut down due to a technical glitch.

Instead of being concerned about making it to the doctor’s appointment you’ve waited months for, or to pick up your child at daycare, or to clock in for your job, or to get to your midterm exam, TransLink thinks you should go chill out with a snack and some coffee until they get things running again. Your doctor or care provider or boss or teacher will be totally understanding, right?

Here’s exactly what Ziola said:

“All [TransLink] can say is, you know, we empathize. We do understand. But perhaps in the future, it would be good to take a little rest break, go for a coffee, go have a bite to eat until we can get things back under control again. That would be a good way of avoiding some of the congestion in the stations as well. And it would be good for our local economy, too.”

Oh, right. The money thing. Because you have lots of it. You’ve definitely worked into your monthly budget for meals instead of being where you wanted to go. Don’t forget, unless you have a monthly or day pass, your fare might expire, too, while you’re sipping that latte or tucking into that unplanned Chicken Caesar Salad, so save some money for another ticket when the train is up and running again.

Granted, TransLink is right: Delays happen. And Ziola points out that drivers face similar wrenches in their schedules when there’s a major crash on their route. Drivers already stuck near the scene are likely stuck, as are passengers who end up trapped inside trains. But if TransLink is hoping to appeal to people just setting out on their rides and likening them to motorists just setting out on their drives, the motorists have an out: They can plot an alternate route, or take public transit. What is a transit user supposed to do that’s affordable and timely?

TransLink has already said riders will not be compensated for this most recent delay, yet their best suggestion for passengers coping with the delays could prove quite costly. Not everyone has the luxury of a flexible schedule or budget.

During system shut downs, TransLink often provides bus bridges to move passengers between stations, however stations still remain crowded as more people show up and are not able to board trains, or get stuck waiting for those replacement buses. Walking may be an option for some, and in some locations passengers may be able to quickly determine which regular bus lines can serve as a substitute. Of course, if we could all afford cabs from downtown to Surrey, we may not be riding the SkyTrain regularly in the first place.

It seems, perhaps, that in the “go to lunch” notion offered by Ziola on behalf of TransLink shows little more than how “out to lunch” the suits at TransLink are.

Monday, October 6: We spoke with TransLink and they provided us some insight on their post-disruption strategies. <a href=”http://www.vancitybuzz.com/2014/10/translink-talks-go-get-coffee-solution-skytrain-service-distruptions/”>Read more here</a>.

Photo by Chris Farmer

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Lindsay William-Ross Lindsay is a Senior Editor at Vancity Buzz, and currently runs the site's Food section. A fourth generation Vancouverite, she spent the last two decades in Los Angeles, where she was EIC of the city's top blog, earned her MA, attended culinary school, and was an English professor (among other things). Lindsay's first published piece was December 1980 in The Province; it was her letter to Santa. E-mail: lindsay@vancitybuzz.com
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