Thousands of passengers were stranded Tuesday after the region's venerable SkyTrain system was hit by a glitch that stalled trains and forced the transit authority to recommend passengers take buses instead of the light-rail operation.
Around 6 p.m. PT as many were headed home, a software, electronics issue affected switches between two stations on the Expo line between Vancouver and Surrey, which was opened in 1985 and is the oldest of two such lines in the Lower Mainland region.
The glitch forced massive delays that left passengers crammed in stations.
The second SkyTrain route – the Millennium Line opened in 2002 - was not affected nor was the Canada Line, a newer light-rail system that runs between Richmond and the Vancouver waterfront.
TransLink was running buses between some stations after Tuesday's transit tangle, and advising passengers to check their web site for bus routes home as a substitute for SkyTrain service.
By 8 p.m., trains were running slowly around the two problem stations – Edmonds and Joyce.
The shutdown comes after a pair of unprecedented shutdowns in July that stranded thousands of passengers and prompted TransLink to recruit the former head of GO Transit in the Toronto area to conduct an independent review on how such emergencies could be better handled in future.
The report from Gary McNeil is due in October.
The July incidents saw some passengers prying open doors of the trains stuck between stations so they could walk out of stalled trains – a practice that alarmed transit officials because it was seen as unsafe. No injuries were reported in those incidents.
On Tuesday, TransLink spokesperson Cheryl Ziola said the authority sympathized with affected customers.
"These things to happen in any major transportation system," she said in an interview. "We do appreciate that people have stayed on trains. There have been no reported transit breakouts."
The incidents in July prompted TransLink to offer a fare-free day of transit use as an apology to customers.