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HomeBusinessExclusive: Woke SkyTrain cleanses emergency lingo after staff complaint

Exclusive: Woke SkyTrain cleanses emergency lingo after staff complaint


Bob Mackin

From now on, when a SkyTrain car slams into a human, staff will no longer use the code word “India” to radio for help.

Instead, they will say “Code Red.”

That is according to a TransLink internal bulletin after an employee complained “India” was offensive.

Nanaimo SkyTrain Station (Google)

“The company is making this change to recognize that incidents of this nature should not be associated with a specific country or a group of people as it has unintentional consequence, and also recognize that it may be offensive to our staff,” said the Aug. 14 bulletin, which was leaked to

“This was brought to the company’s attention from an employee. We want to take this opportunity to thank them for bringing it forward and keeping us accountable. Having a negative work environment for staff does not reflect the company’s values and this change is supported without reservation.”

“India” was on the list of emergency codes used by TransLink attendants, including “Charlie” for collision and “Delta” for derailment. The codes are derived from the International Civil Aviation Authority’s “alfa to zulu” phonetic alphabet.

“Alpha Codes are used by SkyTrain attendants to communicate matters under investigation with control room staff when in a public setting and to engage automatic responses,” said a July affidavit by TransLink FOI manager Sabina Kunkel in an Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner appeal case. “The purpose of Alpha Codes are to minimize the risk of causing panic to the public, particularly as many situations reported to TransLink staff turn out to be false alarms.”

The immediate replacement of India with Code Red came 10 days after a “track issue” was elevated to “medical emergency” status at Stadium-Chinatown station on Aug. 4. Service was disrupted for three hours. Medical emergency is the euphemism TransLink Tweets when a train has struck a human.

On July 23, a similar incident at Columbia station. A woman was wheeled out on a stretcher after being pushed in front of a train. A male was arrested and released. It is believed that he intervened between two women fighting on the platform.

A May 2015 story in the Georgia Straight quoted B.C. Coroners Service statistics showing 75 deaths since 1985 on SkyTrain tracks; at least 10 were accidental.

From 2008 to 2018, the Coroner counted 32 suicides by SkyTrain.

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