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TransLink may take legal action against violent SkyTrain game

TransLink could ask B.C. Supreme Court to shut down a violent online video game that depicts the killings of commuters and transit workers on a SkyTrain platform.

Main Street Massacre is set at a Vancouver SkyTrain station and was released after major Expo and Millennium system outages on July 17 and 21. In the game, users control infuriated construction worker Mack who goes berserk because of a SkyTrain service delay.

TransLink CEO Ian Jarvis asked media outlets to remove links to the game because it "appears to advocate violent behaviour against SkyTrain employees and passengers."

The video game, which is credited to Alexi Wildman (aka Colin Palmer), is posted on a July 30-registered website and uses the SkyTrain brand, which was filed with the Canadian Intellectual Property Office, the division of Industry Canada that handles the national trademark database. The application was filed in 1989 and advertised in 1990 by BC Transit, then-operator of the Greater Vancouver transit system.

The provincial Crown corporation's Lower Mainland operations were spun-off to Metro Vancouver municipalities in 1998.

"You raised a good point on legal infringement and are the first media outlet to consider this unique angle. In fact, our legal team was reviewing this issue already," said a statement from TransLink's communications department.

On July 17, two of SkyTrain's three lines were out of service after a computer glitch. Another, more severe outage on July 21 lasted five hours. A daytime power outage happened at SkyTrain's Burnaby control centre where an electrician was installing a circuit breaker for the under-construction Evergreen Line. In February, the board for the SNC-Lavalin-led, $1.43-billion project identified systems integration as a major risk.

TransLink hired Gary McNeil, the former CEO of Toronto's GO Transit, as a $1,200-a-day consultant to review the outages and recommend ways to prevent similar problems. His report is due in October.

Veteran journalist Bob Mackin is a frequent contributor to The Tyee.

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