Rethink needed for abused SkyTrain exit
Sapperton SkyTrain station in New Westminster, B.C. on Wednesday November 27, 2013. TransLink needs to decide whether to turn the transit system's most-abused emergency exit staircase into an actual entrance to stop its customers having to cross two lanes of heavy traffic, a side road and a railway to get from the station to their industrial workplaces. (CARMINE MARINELLI/ 24 HOURS)
Sapperton SkyTrain Station’s poor surrounding pedestrian infrastructure has meant up between 50 to 100 people use an emergency platform exit to get out of the station each day in order to avoid crossing two roads and a rail line.
TransLink is revamping a much-abused emergency exit staircase at the Sapperton SkyTrain station by turning it into an entrance to enhance commuter safety.
Currently, the staircase is the safest option at the New Westminster station for some commuters working nearby. In contrast, the official exit forces those same workers to dodge four lanes of heavy traffic and a railway line.
Derek Zabel, spokesman for the transit authority, said Wednesday up to 100 people were using the emergency exit daily to avoid crossing multiple traffic routes to get to an industrial area south of Brunette Avenue.
It deposited commuters next to an active rail corridor, but they could avoid crossing train tracks and roads.
The official exit requires crossing Spruce Street and Brunette Avenue via an overpass to the north side of Brunette — the wrong side of the traffic route barriers for the affected workers.
This routing is due to the rail lines running directly beneath the SkyTrain, officials said, which restricts TransLink from putting in a surface entrance and exit at the platform’s ground level.
Short of walking about one kilometre to Columbia and Brunette, there are no other crossings to bring pedestrians back to the south industrial side, according to TransLink.
“In many cases, we found people were jaywalking across Brunette, which is an extremely busy road and certainly not a safe place for pedestrian traffic,” said New West Coun. Jonathan Cote, who co-chairs the city’s transportation advisory committee.
According to ICBC data, there has only been one pedestrian-vehicular crash in that area in the past five years.
A request for the proposal filed by TransLink to design a south-of-Brunette exit identifies the impending launch of the Compass Card as the catalyst.
A ground-level crosswalk was also ruled out by the city as commuters would still have to double back over Brunette. Additionally, traffic is too heavy on the road to consider a crossing.
Zabel added Compass holders would also be able to access the SkyTrain station with their cards on either side to use the overpass and platform as a crossing, provided they tap-in and out at no cost.