It’s been a few weeks since COVID-19 was declared a pandemic and physical distancing measures were implemented to slow the virus’s spread.
This has changed the transit experience for both our customers and staff with total boardings across the system down by 83 per cent.
For West Coast Express Station Attendant Fiona Trumper, that means she’s not seeing all her passengers on a regular basis anymore.
“All of the station attendants and the conductors are really missing our passengers because we do really have a good relationship with them,” says Fiona, “so I think that’s the hardest part for all of us, is we’re used to seeing the same people every day and we’re actually missing our passengers.”
The West Coast Express is our commuter rail service that operates during peak morning and evening periods between downtown Vancouver and Mission.
For those who take it, it’s a uniquely community-focussed service that’s always filled with joyful chatter between long-time staff and passengers — everyone knows one another. Physical distancing means Fiona hasn’t been able to talk to her passengers as much.
It has also meant a game of musical chairs onboard the trains for passengers. Everyone has their self-assigned seat onboard the West Coast Express train because they get on and off at the same station, on same train and same time everyday. However, passengers have had to switch it up to ensure there’s adequate physical distancing between themselves and others.
“Everybody on our trains – it’s really weird, they like their own space, their own spots; they have an actual seat that they will sit in every day and I think that they’re having to change a little,” says Fiona. “It’s quite funny to see people using different parts of the train now.”
Thankfully, Fiona’s husband is a bus operator with Coast Mountain Bus Company, so she has someone to share her day with and can understand the unique challenges of being on transit’s frontlines during this time.
It also helps to be someone that prefers to stay home.
“I’ll go into work in the morning to my four hours and then come back and I’m a real homebody, so it’s not really affected me in a huge way, being home after work,” says Fiona.
Although a self-professed homebody, Fiona admits she also enjoys the outdoors and does miss things like hiking and skiing, but she finds comfort in still being able to walk her dog.