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Translink Buzzer Blog

Category: COVID-19 (Coronavirus)

Bus Services staff helping to keep transit clean

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Keeping our employees and customers safe and healthy during the COVID-19 pandemic has been our priority. Across the system, we’ve enhanced our cleaning procedures, equipped buses with temporary barriers and reinforced physical distancing measures.

The servicepersons on our Bus Services team have been fundamental in this effort – their dedication, adaptability and incredible work ethic have helped Coast Mountain Bus Company deliver transit services to thousands of people who rely on us. Read more »

SeaBus service increasing to meet growing demand

Sailings to occur every 15-minutes during peak hours

Beginning Monday, weekday SeaBus departures will occur every 15 minutes between 7:00 and 9:30 a.m. and between 3:00 and 6:30 p.m. This boost from sailings occurring every 30-minutes will help to accommodate demand and provide more space for customers during peak hours. Demand is expected to continue increasing as B.C.’s economy re-opens and as British Columbians undertake more travel within the province this summer. Read more »

How roommates on the Customer Information team help keep transit moving during COVID-19

Remote work has become a new norm for many of us in the era of COVID-19. For our Customer Information (CI) team, this meant leaving a small but bustling hive at the North Surrey Office, where real-time alerts are sent out, updates are received, and hundreds of customer questions are answered.

Working from home (WFH) was quite a readjustment for the team in numerous ways. For Michael Robertson and Cam Muirhead, Customer Information Work Leaders, one thing has remained constant – a good daily face-to-face dose of work banter and chuckles with a desk buddy, which, we’re sure, many of us missed so much. The thing is Mike and Cam are roommates!

We of course couldn’t miss the chance of talking to this awesome CI duo about their ‘co-working at home’ experience and how CI worked during these most uncertain times.

Mike and Cam met while working at Coast Mountain Bus company (CMBC – the bus company that’s part of the TransLink enterprise)  in 2013. They’ve always gotten along in-and-outside of the workplace, so when in the end of 2019, Cam was looking for a new place to stay and Mike was in need of a roommate, they decided to team-up for a mutually beneficial living arrangement.

Mike (on the left) and Cam (on the right), customer information work leaders

How was your experience working from home as roommates during COVID-19?

Cam: COVID-19 was first announced as a global pandemic on March 11th. Initially, like everyone else, we couldn’t anticipate what this would entail. Read more »

Enter the draw for a chance at a TransLink-branded face covering

Our street teams have wrapped up giving away face coverings at SkyTrain stations and bus loops — for now. For those who didn’t get one, we’re giving away a few more on our social media channels!

All you have to do is enter a draw. Keep reading to find out how. Read more »

TransLink inviting new ideas for transit recovery

TransLink is calling for new ideas to make public transit even safer and cleaner as people return to using the system. TransLink’s 2020 Open Call for Innovation will be open to proposals from local businesses, entrepreneurs, inventors and innovators of all sorts to submit their ideas for ways to improve the health and safety of customers and employees on transit. 

TransLink will fast-track the review process by evaluating proposals as they come in and accelerate the implementation of successful ideas. Read more »

TransLink launches ‘Wearing is Caring’ campaign

TransLink is today launching a new campaign aimed at promoting the use of face coverings and non-medical masks on Metro Vancouver’s transit system. As part of the ‘Wearing is Caring’ campaign, more than 15,000 TransLink branded masks will be handed out at key transit hubs over coming weeks. Read more »

TransLink boosts availability of sanitizer dispensers

Dispensers to be installed on entire RapidBus fleet, at exchanges, and more stations

Starting next week, TransLink will build on its Safe Operating Action Plan and expand the availability of hand sanitizer dispensers across Metro Vancouver’s transit system. Dispensers will be installed on the entire RapidBus fleet, at key exchanges, and at more SkyTrain stations.

“Since the beginning of the pandemic, we have been focused on our cleaning and sanitizing protocols,” says TransLink CEO Kevin Desmond. “These dispensers will help promote strong personal hygiene practices, which is especially important as our ridership continues to grow. We need to look out for one another and do our part to ensure we are keeping ourselves and our fellow passengers as safe as possible.” Read more »

TransLink ridership begins recovery

Ridership has increased by 85 per cent since early April

New figures show early signs of ridership recovery on Metro Vancouver’s transit system. Systemwide boardings last week were 85 per cent higher than the second week of April, which had the lowest ridership levels during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I’m very pleased to see our customers gradually returning to the transit system,” says TransLink CEO Kevin Desmond. “We’ve worked hard to ensure our customers have confidence in transit by developing the Safe Operating Action Plan, which keeps our services as safe and reliable as possible.”

TransLink’s Safe Operating Action Plan increases cleaning and sanitizing of transit vehicles and hubs, increases service levels, creates space between customers where possible, and recommends that all customers wear a mask, if they are able to do so.

While ridership has been gradually increasing, systemwide ridership is still low compared to pre-COVID levels. Systemwide boardings are currently at around 33 per cent of the levels they were at last year.

Week Boardings Increase since early April
April 5 – April 11 1,396,000
April 12 – April 18 1,467,000 +5 per cent
April 19 – April 25 1,548,000 +11 per cent
April 26 – May 2 1,580,000 +13 per cent
May 3 – May 9 1,683,000 +21 per cent
May 10 – May 16 1,726,000 +24 per cent
May 17 – May 23 1,876,000 +34 per cent
May 24 – May 30 2,219,000 +59 per cent
May 31 – June 6 2,578,000 +85 per cent

 

Mode Boardings April 5 -11, 2020 Boardings May 31 -June 6 2020 Increase
Systemwide* 1,396,000 2,578,000 +85 per cent
Bus 903,000 1,631,000 +81 per cent
Expo-Millennium 372,000 697,000 +87 per cent
Canada Line 109,000 221,000 +103 per cent
SeaBus 10,000 23,000 +130 per cent
West Coast Express 2,000 6,000 +200 per cent
HandyDART** 4,300 6,700 +56 per cent

*Excludes HandyDART given separate measurement method
**HandyDART measured in trips rather than boardings

Fare collection and front-door boarding to resume, bus seating restrictions eased

On Monday, June 1, Coast Mountain Bus Company (CMBC) will resume fare collection and front-door boarding on buses throughout the region. Bus seating restrictions will also be eased, and buses will be able to accommodate approximately two-thirds capacity before being deemed full.

The increase in passenger capacity on buses will allow CMBC to accommodate the growing number of customers who are returning to the transit system, in alignment with British Columbia’s Restart Plan. CMBC has restored bus schedules to what they were before the COVID-19 pandemic to add as much capacity as possible. However, with bus ridership increasing by more than 30% over the past month, demand cannot be met with the current seating arrangements.

These necessary steps are being taken following the installation of temporary plexiglass extension barriers or vinyl barriers on all buses to protect transit operators.

Physical distancing will not always be possible on transit and that’s why TransLink is encouraging customers to take the following steps to protect themselves and their fellow passengers:

  • Do not take transit when sick.
  • Travel at off-peak times whenever possible.
  • Wear a non-medical mask or face covering while waiting for or taking transit if you’re able to do so.
  • Use bus seating when possible so operators can best estimate the number of customers on board.
  • Allow more time for your commute.

As part of the Safe Operating Action Plan announced last week, CMBC has doubled bus disinfecting sprays to twice per week in addition to daily cleaning schedules. Customers will also notice changes at transit hubs designed to create space where possible, including installing two-metre spaced decals at some bus stops and station entranceways to help guide customers.

TransLink implements Safe Operating Action Plan

Enhanced cleaning, restored service, masks recommended on public transit

In order to support British Columbia’s Restart Plan, TransLink is introducing new and enhanced measures to make transit service safer and keep it available for those who need it.

Over the next several weeks, customers will notice changes at transit stations and on vehicles designed to improve sanitization, create space where possible, and enhance personal safety.

TransLink’s initiatives, many of which have been taken since the beginning of the pandemic, are now part of a Safe Operating Action Plan. This plan will be implemented in phases to meet the needs of our customers as B.C.’s economy re-starts. Below are the steps customers will see, as well as the actions we are asking them to take.

What we are doing to make transit safer:

Increased Cleaning and Sanitizing

  • Deploying cleaning “pit crews” to disinfect SkyTrain cars at high traffic stations.
  • Increasing bus and SeaBus disinfecting sprays to twice per week in addition to daily cleaning schedules.
  • Maintaining daily cleaning and disinfecting schedules on SkyTrain and West Coast Express cars, as well as HandyDART vehicles.

Managing Physical Space

  • Limiting fare gate access at busy stations to help manage the number of customers on SkyTrain.
  • Installing two-metre spaced decals at some bus stops and station entranceways to help guide customers.

Adding Service to Create More Space

  • Restoring service across all modes to add more capacity, including to routes which were previously reduced. Service will be operating at nearly the same levels as before the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Monitoring passenger loads in order to deploy additional service at times and on routes where physical distancing is more difficult.

What customers can do to enhance their own personal safety and that of fellow passengers:

  • Stay off the system if you are sick.
  • Wear a non-medical mask or face covering while waiting or on-board our vehicles.
  • Travel outside of peak times when possible. This is especially recommended for vulnerable people.
  • Allow more time for your commute.

Quotes

Kevin Desmond, CEO, TransLink –
“Thousands of essential workers have relied on transit every day during the pandemic and many of our customers will return over the coming weeks and months. We’re committed to keep our system running and making it widely available to the people of Metro Vancouver as they go back to work, to school, and to moving around the region. Our Safe Operating Action Plan is meant to make transit as safe as possible and asks our customers to help out by keeping themselves and their fellow passengers safer.”

Dr. Bonnie Henry, British Columbia’s Provincial Health Officer –
“Public Health and WorkSafeBC are working with transit agencies to ensure all reasonable steps are being taken to prevent the spread of COVID-19, however, it’s clear that maintaining a safe physical distance may not be possible in every situation. We recommend all passengers consider wearing a face covering while using public transit, especially during those instances where physical distancing may not be possible. We also ask the public to be patient during this challenging transition period and we are grateful to British Columbia’s transit agencies for doing everything possible to protect the public during these changing times.”

Province and TransLink to ensure transit service in place to support B.C.’s Restart Plan

TransLink to suspend planned service reductions, rescind employee layoffs

People in Metro Vancouver can rest assured that they will be able to get back to work as the Province of B.C. and TransLink announced their commitment to ensure transit service is available as British Columbians safely restart the province and its economy in the coming weeks and months.

The Province and TransLink are working on a comprehensive solution to address the major financial impacts that TransLink, like many transit agencies across the country, has incurred due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Given the progress in these discussions, TransLink and its operating companies will suspend the service reductions planned to begin on May 18 and rescind layoff notices issued to approximately 1,500 employees. The Province and TransLink will also continue to call on the federal government for a national solution to the challenges facing transit systems.

With the release of British Columbia’s Restart Plan, TransLink will review all transit service levels to ensure it is balancing the need to help people get around the region, with the need to maintain and respect enhanced safety protocols. Further service and safety-related announcements will be made in due course.

Quotes

“As we begin to restore the economy through BC’s Restart Plan, services like TransLink will be key to British Columbia’s transition and recovery success.  We remain committed to working with and supporting TransLink through this difficult time and into recovery to find solutions that will benefit Metro Vancouver and British Columbia as a whole and continue to call on the federal government to join us in this support.”
Selina Robinson, Minister for Municipal Affairs and Housing

“Today’s commitment by the Province of B.C. to help TransLink keep transit service running on Day 1 of the BC Restart Plan is an important first step towards returning TransLink to financial sustainability in the long-term. I look forward to working with Minister Robinson and her team through the summer to address the pandemic’s impacts on TransLink finances so that TransLink is equipped to help rebuild our region’s sustainable, innovative economy.”
Jonathan X. Coté, Chair of the Mayors’ Council on Regional Transportation

“This is another important step forward for re-starting British Columbia and Metro Vancouver’s economy. The transit service provided by TransLink is essential to the lives of hundreds of thousands of people in our region. We will be ready to provide safe, reliable transit service as people return to work. We are proud to be partnering with the Province of B.C. to ensure transit service is there as the economy recovers.”
Kevin Desmond, TransLink CEO

Learn More

New temporary barriers give bus operators peace of mind

photo of: Carmen Niculescu - Community Shuttle Operator

Carmen Niculescu – Community Shuttle Operator behind a made by CMBC temporary barrier

To further protect the health and well-being of CMBC Bus Operators during the COVID-19 pandemic, new temporary barriers were recently installed on our Community Shuttle and Orion highway coach fleet.

With many teams working hard behind the scenes to complete this project as quickly and efficiently as possible, we thought we’d share an inside look at the process and people involved in developing and installing the barriers.

Engineering

From the beginning, Maintenance Engineers had a few important considerations when developing their design. It had to be easy and safe to use, rolled out on a large scale, meet all regulations, was flame resistant, and Operators had to be able to see through it.

“An intern and I did the initial install,” explained one CMBC Maintenance Engineer. “We came up with the design and tested it on two shuttles. Once we had the preliminary design, we worked with the [Upholstery] Shop to make templates so it could be rolled out easily, and all the garages could do the installs with minimal help. We also made instructions for them on how to install it. This was all completed in about three days.”

The engineer reinforced it was an excellent collaboration across multiple teams: “We had to make sure everyone was on the same page so this could be rolled out quickly.”

Inventory Management

An Inventory Procurement Coordinator was responsible for working with our suppliers to find and purchase the material needed to complete the project.

“It was challenging to find such large volumes of materials in a short period of time considering the current global climate,” he explained. “Fortunately, our suppliers went above and beyond to make sure we were able to get what we needed. From our Stores personnel to our Tradespeople in the [Upholstery] Shop, to the Supervisors and Managers who were involved, this was a real team effort. The safety of our Operators is important. If these barriers give peace of mind and assist in making them feel safer, then it’s well worth the effort.”

Fleet Overhaul

photo of: Extra velcro and metal parts from bus seats used to install CMBC created barriers

Extra velcro and metal parts from bus seats used to install barriers

The Upholstery Shop at CMBC repairs/rebuilds transit vehicle seats and completes custom reupholstery jobs. For this project, our Body, Paint and Trim Manager was responsible for coordinating all stakeholders, including purchasing, operations and maintenance management, engineering, body shop, and more, to ensure that the Upholstery Shop had all the materials and resources necessary to complete the work.

“This project was a team effort in every way,” they explained.

While it was challenging at times to balance the immediate requirements for both barriers and regular inventory items, the team was able to successfully equip almost 250 buses.

Environmental and Maintenance

A CMBC Environmental Officer and Inventory Management Coordinator also collaborated on an initiative that reused existing inventory and reduced costs.

They realized that they could utilize the package of Velcro and metal that comes with every bus seat in the installation of the new temporary barriers on our Community Shuttle fleet. These items almost never get used – often they are just changing out the seat which already has Velcro installed at the base – so they were able to save them from the garbage and avoid having to purchase new materials.

 

An Operators’ Perspective

Made by CMBC shuttle barrier

Carmen Niculescu, a Community Shuttle Operator based out of the Port Coquitlam Transit Centre, enjoys the community aspect of driving the shuttles: “I love being able to pick up the same people at the same time every day. I know to expect those people and enjoy creating interactions with them.”

In the early days of the pandemic however, Carmen found herself limiting interactions with customers to try and keep everyone on the bus safe. While she still picks up many regulars, there are people she doesn’t see anymore: “It makes me sad. I miss the routine and the community.”

With the new temporary barriers installed, Carmen feels much more at ease and is able to carry on with her regular, friendly interactions: “You get on the bus, you do your job, and the barrier gives 100% peace of mind. They are really well designed. Whoever did this project did an amazing job!”

In the light of recent service reductions, we’re asking all of our customers to use transit for essential trips only – especially at peaks hours and busy times – so space remains available for those who need it most. You can find more information about peak hours on transit here.

Written by Rebecca Abel

Helping with taxes for essential workers and local businesses

head shot of Emma smiling

With tax deadlines being extended for individuals and businesses till June and September, you’d imagine things would slow down for organizations providing tax services. As we found out, that’s not exactly the case. On the contrary, many of us require professional advice more than ever to make some important decisions in the light of new COVID-19 -related government programs and initiatives .

Emma Nguyen is one of the essential workers who help individuals and businesses to navigate through various financial bumps along this uncertain road. She’s an accountant for a tax consulting and accounting company in North Vancouver.

Emma, as well as many other essential workers in Metro Vancouver, relies on public transit to get to work. During the pandemic, Emma switched to a multi-modal commuting to accommodate for her personal circumstances. She carpools with her friend in the morning to get to North Vancouver and in the evening uses bus and a SkyTrain to go back home.

Emma, can you tell us more about your work?

Our organization provides services to individuals, as well as small to medium-sized businesses, in different fields ranging from hospitality and commercial sectors to law and professional services. Some of our clients are frontline and essential workers, such as doctors, dentists and people who are operating local businesses and stores. We help individuals and businesses stay compliant with government and industry standards – so we help them with tax returns and GST returns in addition to tax consulting and accounting services.

We know that the tax returns have been postponed till June, but it seems that it’s still a quite busy time for companies likes yours?  

Yes, that’s right. The tax returns have been delayed until June 1st and payment deadlines until September. You know, these days people are worried about their finances. If they file the returns or payments earlier, they can receive refunds or just plan for the cash flow. Also, the requirements for some of the government relief programs are based on tax returns. So if you have this information early on, you can decide if you qualify. This is really important for our clients and their long-term planning.

Busy time! So I imagine most of people would need to come and work in the office?

Yes, my colleagues and I still come to the office to work. For tax consulting firms that really depends on their culture and IT systems in place. A lot of our tasks involve physical documents, since our company is not entirely paperless. Also, since we are in consulting, our work involves a lot of communication. For junior staff, like me, we work closely with our managers and senior staff.

How have things changed for your company during COVID-19?

Because we are handling physical documents, we make sure to follow some safety measures, such as not touching documents for at least 24 hours and washing hands before and after. Our company is relatively small, but we are also make sure to maintain physical distancing. There are about 10 people right now working on one floor.

What would your message be for other essential workers and just everyone who is going through this challenging time?

I think COVID-19 has made us conscious about every little thing that we took for granted before. I really appreciate everyone’s efforts these days, whether they’re staying at home or going to work. It’s a challenging time for all of us. If you are an essential or frontline worker, I hope you’re staying safe!

A lot of people are feeling worried and anxious about the current situation. I felt the same way (my family lives outside of Canada), and I guess one advice that I have for everyone is to try to maintain some kind of schedule or routine. In my situation, my work helped me to do that (smiles).

In the light of recent service reductions, we’re asking all of our customers to use transit for essential trips only – especially at peaks hours and busy times – so space remains available for those, like Emma and Laura, who need it most. You can find more information about peak hours on transit here.

 

Bus fare collection set to resume June 1

Bus operator barrier with a temporary plexiglass extension installed.

Upgrades and installation of barriers allow for safe fare collection

Beginning June 1, front-door boarding and fare collection will resume on all buses. Temporary plexiglass extension barriers are being added to conventional buses currently equipped with traditional operator barriers. Vinyl barriers will be installed on the remainder of the fleet.

“We’ve managed to find an innovative solution which ensures the safety of our bus operators, while also allowing for safe fare collection,” says TransLink CEO Kevin Desmond. “We’ve already started to procure materials and install the barriers on our fleet, with an expectation that this process will be complete by June.”

Given current ridership levels, it is estimated that approximately $2 million per month will be collected by resuming fare collection on the bus system. TransLink is losing around $75 million each month due to several factors, including significant reductions in ridership and fuel tax revenue.

Timing for service reductions

TransLink is also advising customers that previously announced bus route suspensions and frequency reductions will come into effect on May 18th. This will see 41 routes suspended, in addition to the 18 routes which were suspended in April, and six suspended in early May. Frequency will be reduced on most remaining bus routes.

We ask customers to only travel on transit during peak hours if necessary, so space is available for essential service workers. For more information, visit translink.ca/servicechanges.

Vinyl barrier for buses.

 

These are the new peak hours and busy times on transit

Thank you to all the essential workers – and to everyone for doing your part, staying home, and staying safe.

With limited service available at this time, we’re asking all of our customers to use transit for essential trips only – especially at peaks hours and busy times – so space remains available for those who need it most.

What are peak hours? These are the times during the day when there’s the most demand and when transit’s the busiest.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, these hours have changed as when and where we travel, and who is travelling on transit has changed. Please keep these new peak hours and busy times in mind when planning your transit trip. If you need to take transit, please limit your travel to outside these hours so space is available for essential workers.

  • Weekday peak periods:
    • Morning: 5:30 a.m. to 8 a.m.
    • Afternoon: 2 p.m. to 6 p.m.
  • Saturday peak periods:
    • Morning: 6:30 a.m. to 8 a.m.
    • Afternoon: 2 p.m. to 6:45 p.m.
  • Sunday peak periods:
    • Morning: 7 a.m. to 8 a.m.
    • Afternoon: 1:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Need help with Trip Planning? Our Customer Information team is available to help:

  • Twitter: Monday to Friday, 5:30 a.m. to 12:30 a.m., and Saturday and Sunday, 6:30 a.m. to 11:30 p.m.
  • Phone at 604.953.3333: seven days a week, 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
  • Live Chat: Monday to Friday, 5:30 a.m. to 12:00 a.m., and on Saturday, 6:30 a.m. to 11:00 p.m.