TransLink supports business community’s efforts to bring employees back

TransLink supports business community’s efforts to bring employees back

When Dave Lewin and the public affairs team at TransLink was asked to think of ways to build confidence and create sustainable dialogue with the business community, little did they realize how many businesses were eager to delve into this conversation on how to get their employees back on transit and into the office.

After all, it had been months since the COVID-10 pandemic hit Canada in mid-March, and ridership was finally picking up after being down by 83% in April 2020.

Employees across Metro Vancouver were working from home (and are still doing so), including those at organizations like Deloitte.

So, Lewin’s team thought of directly engaging with the employers, large and small, to understand their needs, create a dialogue that focused around gaining confidence, and last but not the least, understand how to get these thousands of employees back on transit.

“This engagement started in September and was triggered by the need to work with organizations to get feedback and help improve customer confidence around taking transit. To help them understand what TransLink has done to make transit even safer, and let them know about the tips and tools that are available to them, programs and initiatives, and public consultations TransLink is involved in.” – Dave Lewin, Senior Advisor, Public Affairs, TransLink.

To date, TransLink has hosted 13 webinars for organizations, schools and associations since mid-September. Several of the Business Improvement Associations hosted many businesses so, all together, Lewin’s team has met with over 50 organizations so far.

Top L – R: Dave Lewin, TransLink, and Melissa Higgs, Principal Architect, HCMA Architecture and Design. and member of the Downtown Vancouver Business Improvement Association. Bottom L – R: Fay Kramer and Alex Anderson, TransLink

Lewin says this engagement has allowed a conversation to happen between TransLink and our customers and potential customers to find out how we can work together to increase confidence in our transit system.

But why businesses, you might wonder? To start with, these are employers. As well, TransLink has had a relationship with them over the years and they are open to having a discussion around transportation initiatives around our region.

Some of these businesses include Cadillac Fairview, several business improvement associations such as the Downtown Vancouver BIA, YVR, Deloitte, and several Chambers of Commerce including Richmond and Cloverdale.

Andrew Pau, Deloitte

Andrew Pau is a partner at Deloitte and attended one such webinar with TransLink.

Pau says the organization gained a better appreciation of the activities and actions Translink has undertaken to make transit safe.

“We were pleasantly reminded of the larger reasons why public transit and our support for public transit is important AND the progress we were making pre-COVID relative to other transit systems in North America,” says Pau.

Lewin notes that supporting these organizations getting back to business as well as their return to work measures was the big push.

Back in the fall, TransLink launched its Safe Operating Action Plan  which outlined measures to keep Metro Vancouver moving safely as British Columbia’s economy restarted.

For companies like Deloitte, with a large client base who is also working from home, it was important to know that transit is a safe option to get to places, including their work sites.

“TransLink is a safe mode of transportation – as long as you follow the procedures. It is continuing to maintain and enhance the health safety of the system, and is continuing to invest in improving and expanding the system – to address congestion AND environmental outcomes…,” Deloitte’s Pau adds.

He has some words of wisdom to add, however.

“Mirror Translink leadership in the business community with your leadership to make Metro Vancouver and BC the great place to live, work and play. Bringing ridership back safely contributes to bringing our economy and our business back safely.” – Andrew Pau, Deloitte.

In the near term, Lewin’s team has scheduled some webinars with post secondary schools, provincial government agencies in Metro Vancouver, and more associations and businesses. The plan is to continue to host webinars throughout the fall and winter.

TransLink has also engaged with Capilano University students and the Alliance of BC Students, but is intending to extend it to post-secondary institutions who employ a lot of staff and students.

This engagement with businesses has received positive responses and there is appreciation for what TransLink is doing to support them, Lewin says.

For Lewin’s team, this ongoing relationship with the business community is all about hearing new ideas, how to innovate, gathering insight, and ultimately, determining any new ideas we can implement so that TransLink supports the kickstart of BC’s economy.

“People are craving information. They appreciate the information and we are willing to share it. It is definitely exciting to see companies supporting our transit system. We are all in this together. We love the system we have and are excited to have riders back on safely,” Lewin adds.

If your organization would like to connect with TransLink, contact travelsmart@translink.ca.

To know more about the measures that TransLink is taking to keep the system safe, see here.

TransLink staff