20 November 2017 0 Comments Posted By : Megan Devlin

Downtown businesses renewing calls for extended SkyTrain service

Calls are growing stronger from business owners in downtown Vancouver for Translink to keep its trains running later on weekends after officials said extended service would be expensive but possible.

Charles Gauthier, the president and CEO of the Downtown Vancouver Business Improvement Association, says operating trains later on Friday and Saturday nights would bolster the city's economy.

"You can't look at this from the perspective that it's just going to help the bars and nightclubs," he said. "It could help the restaurants; it could certainly encourage people to stay later downtown after they go to a hockey game."

Last week, Translink's director of railway infrastructure who oversees overnight track maintenance told CTV News that it's likely possible to keep SkyTrain running later on weekends with the right resources.

"Obviously 24-hour service or late-night service is successful around the world, so it is feasible," Matt Doyle said. "We don't know what that would look like; it's something that would require a significant amount of time, effort, planning and investment."

Translink has previously said keeping trains open later would be impossible because of essential maintenance work that is done on the tracks during the long periods SkyTrain is closed on weekend nights.

Doyle suggested, however, that it could be possible—and expensive—to shift maintenance schedules.

"I'm still gobsmacked about hearing that," Gauthier said, saying he feels he was misled about why SkyTrain service couldn't be extended.

Certain lines on London's tube system began operating around the clock on Friday and Saturday nights in 2015. According to The Night Tube's website, the service will support 2,00 jobs in London's night economy and boost the economy by 360 million pounds.

Beyond economic benefit, Gauthier thinks keeping transit open later could improve safety on the Granville Strip, saying people "flooding" out of the bars in the entertainment district have nowhere to go.

"We have no rideshare—nowhere in sight. And we have inadequate taxi service. And I would say we have an insufficient public transportation system," he said.

He'd like to see SkyTrains operate well past 3 a.m.

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