Better late than never is the response from disability advocates as TransLink moves ahead with plans to replace 38 escalators at SkyTrain and West Coast Express stations.
Beginning in 2018, TransLink will replace 35 Expo Line escalators and three WCE escalators over the next four years. That’s down from the initial six years that TransLink estimated that this would take when they announced the project last year. The project is budgeted at $47.7 million.
Disability Alliance BC executive director Jane Dyson said that while she’s happy to hear the timeline for the work has been shortened, she’s not sure why it took Translink so long to get to the aging escalators.
“It’s disappointing that it takes so many years to fix these escalators,” Dyson said.
TransLink CEO Kevin Desmond said that most of the escalators on the Expo line are 30 years old. “That’s too old,” Desmond said.
According to Translink, escalators on Expo and Millennium lines are available 94 per cent of the time, up from 85 per cent from May.
“That sounds objectively good but if you use the SkyTrain and you find an escalator out of service, that’s a bummer. If an escalator is out of service for an infirm person or an elderly person and they have to walk up the stairs, that’s not good,” Desmond said during a Thursday morning briefing.
The accelerated repair program means more escalators will be shut down at the same time.
“You can only repair these things by taking them out of service. Ripping them out and building new escalators takes time, it’s disruptive,” said Desmond.
Dyson said she hopes the escalator repairs are properly timed out.
“I hope that TransLink will ensure that when an escalator is being repaired that the elevator is operational,” she said. TransLink’s Twitter feed shows over half a dozen elevator closures in the past week.
TransLink did not respond to queries for comment on how long escalators would be out of service for nor which stations would have their escalators replaced.