Delays frustrate West Coast Express riders

Maple Ridge Mayor Nicole Read has heard the complaints.

The past few weeks have been rough if you’re riding the West Coast Express, trying to get to work in Vancouver.

“So much for fixing the problem! Seven minutes after we left and we are stopped!” tweeted one frustrated commuter on Nov. 23.

That was a bad day for the service after Trains 1, 2 and 3 were all delayed because of a freight train.

The same day, in response to previous delays, West Coast Express apologized to its customers by leaving a letter on every seat on the train on Nov. 23.

“We would like to sincerely apologize for the recent service delays,” the letter said.

“While we appreciate that CP has challenges, too, our recent service delivery has not been up to our standards.”

But soon it had to issue another apology, after a delay on Nov. 24.

That delay had TransLink, the parent agency that runs West Coast Express, apologizing again.

“The West Coast Express train No. 1 … heading eastbound and terminating at Mission is delayed by a minimum 30 minutes, due to freight blocking the track.

“Train No. 2 is also likely to face delays of 10 to 15 minutes.

“We sincerely regret today’s delay and the inconvenience to our customers, as well as recent service delays. The frequency and duration of these service disruptions is a concern to us and we understand the negative impact this is having on our customers,” TransLink said in a release.

“Freight train again gets priority. Get it figured out #cprail. This wasn’t an issue when you had the contract,” tweeted another rider on Nov. 24.

Earlier this month, one or more of the trains were delayed on Nov. 2, 3, 9, 10 (a 35-minute delay), 16, and Nov. 21.

One commuter asked, “Don’t they have the WCE schedule?”

Maple Ridge Mayor Nicole Read has heard the complaints.

“I’m really angry. This happens and we go through these bouts of these things it seems. When you’re trying to get somewhere and you see successive days of delays, that is not OK.

“We need to have reliability from CP Rail. We can’t be seeing these delays.

“Large trains of people are trying to get somewhere … and get home at the end of the day. That’s the last thing any one of us want to be dealing with.”

She’s setting up a system so she’s informed of the delays when they happen and is contacting CP Rail.

She’s already talked to TransLink about the disruptions.

Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows MLA Doug Bing said the delays are an inconvenience and regrettable.

Any system will break down, he added.

People can be delayed in traffic, as well.

“It’s all part of being a commuter. It’s not unusual. It’s annoying and frustrating for people when it happens.”

On Monday afternoon, the train had another delay, this time one of about 16 minutes, “due to freight train ahead.”

Bing is confident the provincial government is more willing to find a funding solution or source to raise money to allow Phase 2 of the 10-Year Vision for Metro Vancouver Transit and Transportation to proceed.

Phase 1 was just approved by the Mayors Council on Regional Transportation while Phase 2 will allow construction of light rail in Surrey.

There’s a recognition that public transit is needed as the region continues to grow, Bing said.

He expects his government to reach a funding agreement with Metro Vancouver to allow more money to fund TransLink.

“Absolutely. There certainly is a desire to do so. We all have to work together on this. I see that people are willing to get her done.”

He said the government was previously reluctant to allow new revenue sources without public consultation.

Jeremy Berry of CP Rail recognizes that delays have been “a great inconvenience” to commuters and said it’s “actively working on solutions to reduce these delays.”