TransLink will be spending just shy of $10,000 to outfit its fleet of buses with Kevlar tire socks for this winter season.
At an operations yard in Burnaby on Thursday, maintenance engineer Simon Agnew said that the tire socks would be expanded to two new routes this winter.
“They’re going to be shuttle routes [on the North Shore] upper levels, the 210 Upper Lynn Valley/Lynn Valley and the 232 Grouse Mountain/Edgemont,” said Agnew.
“We’re going to have technicians along the route to monitor the wear on them and replace them as necessary.”
The tire socks, manufactured by Autosock, cost about $250 a pair and will cost $9,600 to outfit all of TransLink’s non-articulated buses.
The socks take about five minutes per bus to replace, which needs to happen every 50 kilometres, or about every two hours, as they wear out.
Last year, the tire socks were tested out on buses going between the Production Way – University SkyTrain Station and Simon Fraser University’s Burnaby campus.
“We found that the performance was quite improved by installing the tire socks. We were really impressed by that,” said Agnew.
Agnew said that TransLink already uses winter-rated tires on all its buses, but is hesitant to switch to tires meant for heavier snow.
“We feel that for the kind of climate we have in Vancouver, and in the winter when it’s mainly just rainy conditions, the tire we run is the best tire,” said Agnew.
“If we were to outfit our entire fleet with ‘snow tires,’ it would be close to 10,000 tires. It would be a huge effort for our technicians to try and handle.”
While the company did consider adding chains instead of the tire socks, Agnew said that the bus wheel wells weren’t big enough for the chains to not swing and hit the sides, damaging the sides.
For SkyTrains, the company will focus on de-icing the tracks and clearing branches and other snow-covered debris off or routes.
Chris Morris, the B.C. Rapid Transit Company’s director of engineering assets, said that as in past years, SkyTrains will be equipped with specialty “winter shoes” to better pick up the track’s electrical current.
“This time of year we switch all our trains to brass and carbon winter shoes,” said Morris.
“The brass has a characteristic where it can much better handle rough conditions.”
The company is also continuing to maintain about two kilometres of heat tracing in spots like bridge, where heavy ice buildup led to service disruptions last winter.
To keep the rest of TransLink’s 80 kilometres of SkyTrain rail clear of ice and snow, the company will run de-icer trains in the morning and as needed throughout the day, which spray the rails to keep ice from forming.