MoveUP Responds to SkyTrain Shutdown Report

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Transit Union MoveUP Responds to SkyTrain Shutdown Report

BURNABY – The Canadian Office and Professional Employees Union Local 378 (MoveUP) says Gary McNeil’s SkyTrain shutdown report highlights the urgent need for better investment in our public transit system.

“During the shutdowns, our members were instrumental in making sure passengers were safe and had all available information, but it’s also clear that TransLink didn’t have the staffing levels needed to respond,” said MoveUP President David Black.

McNeil, who consulted with MoveUP as part of his review, notes that funding has not kept pace with increased ridership and distance covered by the system. It recommends not just making current staff more visible on the system, but also investigating options for staffing up in the Customer Call Centre and across the system, noting that “additional frontline staff will provide a significant customer service benefit” (p. 35).

“In a major service disruption, the ability to deal with customer issues is critical but limited by lack of resources and adequate technology options,” states the report (p. 25).

Although TransLink has said they will accept the report recommendations, Black worries that without a successful transit funding referendum in the near future, serious problems in the system will continue.

“People in Metro Vancouver have been waiting over a year since the provincial government announced they would require a referendum for any more transit funding. The longer we wait for them to make a final decision the farther behind our system is falling,” Black added.

“We need more funding not just to expand our bus fleet and rapid transit, but also to shore up our current system, for the hundreds of thousands of people who rely on it,” said Black.

MoveUP represents approximately 425 members at Coast Mountain Bus Company, including Transit Security and Customer Call Centre workers, and 230 members at TransLink, including IT staff.

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Media Contact: Jarrah Hodge, jhodge@moveuptogether.ca, 604-790-0487

Highlights for MoveUP Members from Gary McNeil’s independent report SkyTrain Service Disruptions on July 17 and July 21, 2014.

Recommendation Summaries

  • Introduce a single emergency radio band for all TransLink Operating groups (p. 6).
  • Set frontline staffing levels and their service area locations so qualified staff can respond within a specified period of time (p. 6).
  • Increase visibility of frontline staff (p. 7).
  • Strengthen the resiliency of the Call Centre phone system and webpage (p. 7).

System Overview

  • SkyTrain needs more operating dollars to serve their growing passenger base (p. 35).
  • Since 1986, the number of passengers handled by SkyTrain, and the number of vehicle miles travelled has increased almost four-fold. Therefore, although staffing levels have increased consistent with asset elements (stations and length of track), the operating budget has not kept up with the number of passengers handled, or miles driven by the vehicles. Increasing vehicle miles equates to a parallel increase in energy consumption and vehicle/wayside equipment maintenance, which puts pressure on other parts of the operating budget. Likewise, higher passenger volumes equate to increases in cleaning and station maintenance demands at a higher rate than “twice” the operating budget of 1986 (p. 11).

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Customer Call Centre Staffing

  • Although the Customer Call Centre valiantly attempted to answer public enquiries, and deal with alternative bus service options, there was a finite number of staff available to answer the telephone calls (p. 23).
  • TransLink should investigate staffing levels in its Call Centre, or investigate options for increasing staff availability during major delay events (p. 32).

Overall Staffing Issues

  • In a major service disruption, the ability to deal with customer issues is critical but limited by lack of resources and adequate technology options. Staffing levels have been developed to accommodate short-term, low volume service disruptions, but not major service disruptions (p. 25).
  •  Additional frontline staff will provide a significant customer service benefit (p. 35).
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