Over the past week, every night at 7 p.m., a cheer has been ringing out across Metro Vancouver for healthcare workers and all frontline staff, and we’ve been telling you about it on our social media channels.
We want to give thanks to those on the front lines too — including our transit staff! That’s why for the next little while, you’ll hear a voice announcement onboard all Expo, Millennium and Canada Line trains at 7 p.m., thanking frontline staff and asking customers to cheer for them.
The announcement played for the first time on March 27 and you can watch below. Thanks to the customer that gave a “woo!” I think we can do better, so tonight, let’s hear you cheer even louder!
For us at TransLink and its family of companies, not only are we thankful for the healthcare workers and grocery clerks on the frontlines, we’re also thankful for transit’s frontline staff and all those who work behind the scenes to keep the region moving for essential workers and essential trips like grocery runs.
That’s your bus operators, SkyTrain Attendants, SeaBus Attendants, West Coast Express Attendants, Transit Security officers and Transit Police officers, staff at Customer Information and Compass Customer Service, as well as the operations and maintenance staff — to name a few — for ensuring a reliable transit system for those essential trips.
Are you a customer that’s using transit because you’re an essential worker or need it for essential trips? We want to tell your story about who you are and where you’re taking transit to. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org!
Or perhaps you’re just super thankful for transit staff and want to send us your appreciation for them. Snap a photo, write a Haiku, draw a picture, perform a song or whatever you can dream up to show your appreciation! We’ll make sure it share it with our transit staff.
Here’s a selection of what we’ve spotted on social media from you!
Beginning from next week, TransLink will be limiting seating on buses in Metro Vancouver to enhance physical distancing measures.
Roughly half the seats on board buses will have signage installed to indicate that those seats are to be left vacant, which will allow for extra space between customers.
If the new seated capacity is reached, bus operators will not make any further stops to collect passengers, who will have to wait for the next bus.
Given declining ridership is resulting in far fewer passengers on the system, we don’t expect these changes will impact travel times on the majority of bus routes. That being said, commuters who use busier routes should consider building in additional travel time and consider their need to travel, particularly during rush hours.
This comes in addition to the physical distancing measures currently in place across our system:
Customers are being asked to board buses using the rear doors where possible as part of our response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Customers needing mobility assistance can still use the front doors if required.
Given we are not able to collect all fares at the rear doors, including cash fares, TransLink is suspending fare collection on the bus system and HandyDART.
We have launched an education campaign promoting hygiene and asking customers to allow extra space for fellow passengers when on board transit.
Customers will not be able to use seats close to crew on SeaBus vessels.
Coast Mountain Bus company is accelerating installation of operator protection barriers on all of its buses. Nearly 700 buses currently have barriers installed.
Public transit remains crucial for thousands of essential service workers in the region, including those in the healthcare sector. We would like to make sure that those who rely on transit are able to use our system and get to their destinations safely.
Beginning March 25, we are suspending fare collection on the HandyDART system. Because HandyDART fare payment can often require close interaction between operators and customers, we’re taking this step to protect operators and promote physical distancing.
Fare collection is already suspended for conventional bus to reduce close contact between operators and customers. Regular fares still apply on SkyTrain, West Coast Express and SeaBus as payment doesn’t involve any person-to-person interaction.
This comes in addition to several other operational changes we’ve made to improve cleanliness and allow for more social distancing on HandyDART:
HandyDART vehicles are being cleaned and disinfected every day.
HandyDART operators are spacing customers out in vehicles wherever possible, to promote social distancing.
Every HandyDART operator is being supplied with a sanitizing kit which includes gloves, as well as hand sanitizer bottles or sanitizing wipes.
Customers are cancelling around 70% of HandyDART trips daily, resulting in significantly fewer customers travelling on each bus, and therefore greater social distancing.
Given significant ridership declines on transit due to social distancing measures in Metro Vancouver, TransLink will be making minor service reductions to SeaBus, bus, and SkyTrain services.
SeaBus will transition to sailings every 15-minutes during weekday rush hours, instead of every 10-minutes.
Bus routes which have excess capacity, including those with empty buses, will have some frequencies reduced.
Expo and Millennium Lines will see slight frequency reductions, with first and last train schedules remaining in place.
Passenger levels will be carefully monitored in order to balance lower ridership with the need to maintain social distancing. Customers should check Trip Planner or Transit Alerts before travelling, to ensure their route is not impacted by service reductions.
TransLink has also enhanced social distancing initiatives with the temporary closure of the Customer Service Centre at Stadium-Chinatown Station and the West Coast Express Customer Service Centre at Waterfront Station.
Customers requiring assistance are still able to use any of the below contact details:
Beginning March 20, customers will be asked to board buses using the rear doors only where possible. Given TransLink cannot collect cash fares at the rear doors, we are also suspending fare collection on the bus system.
We are taking this step to allow greater social distancing to protect our Coast Mountain Bus Company operators at this time. Customers requiring mobility assistance can continue to use the front doors if needed. Regular fares still apply on other TransLink modes.
TransLink has also implemented the following changes:
Customers will not be able to use seats close to operators on certain buses.
Accelerating the installation of operator protection barriers on buses.
Customers will not be able to use seats close to crew on SeaBus vessels.
Launching an education campaign promoting hygiene and asking customers to allow extra space for fellow passengers and transit staff.
Increasing cleaning and disinfecting on all modes of transit.
As extraordinary social distancing measures are being put into place across the region, TransLink has also seen a commensurate and significant decline in ridership. This means there are far fewer passengers using the system, which allows for greater social distancing.
We will keep customers up to date using social media channels, TransLink customer information (604.953.3333) and our website.
In addition to daily cleaning schedules, we’re spraying the entire bus fleet with a strong disinfectant each week. We’re also cleaning Stations and Bus Loops, SkyTrain, SeaBus, West Coast Express and HandyDART.
What is TransLink’s approach to COVID-19?
TransLink is following the lead of health officials when it comes to our response to COVID-19. We want to remind everyone that we need to work together, and that we need your help to keep the system safe and clean for yourself and those around you.
TransLink is closely monitoring the situation and we remain in contact with regional health authorities and other transit agencies in order to determine best practices and ensure our response is appropriate.
At this time, we have not been directed to make any operational changes, however, we are all taking steps to ensure a high standard of cleanliness is maintained in order to reduce any potential risk of viral spread.
How’s TransLink keeping the transit system clean?
Facilities: Stations and bus loops across the TransLink network are being cleaned at least once per day, including a disinfectant wipe down of stair and escalator handrails, elevator buttons, door handles, fare gates, Compass vending machines, garbage handles, benches, seats, emergency cabinets and emergency phones.
SkyTrain: All SkyTrain cars are cleaned overnight and receive a disinfectant wipe down of poles, seats, ceilings, handles, windows, sills, and other surfaces within the cars.
Bus & SeaBus: The entire Bus and SeaBus fleet are being sprayed using a strong disinfectant each week, which comes in addition to daily cleaning schedules.
HandyDART: All HandyDART vehicles are being cleaned and disinfected everyday.
West Coast Express: All trains are cleaned and disinfected each evening once they come out of service.
Social Distancing and Protective Measures on Public Transit
Consistent with the advice from health officials, if people are feeling unwell, they should stay home and avoid public transit.
The best ways to prevent contracting or spreading a contagious illness are frequent and thorough hand washing with soap and water, coughing or sneezing into tissues, and staying home if you are sick.
Over the past several days we have seen ridership in decline, meaning that transit services have fewer passengers, which allows for more social distancing.
We are preventing customers from using some seats on SeaBus to allow social distancing for our operators.
On certain buses, customers will not be able to sit in seats which are near bus operators.
Coast Mountain Bus company is accelerating installation of operator protection barriers on all of its buses. Nearly 700 of our buses currently have barriers installed.
Every Coast Mountain Bus Company bus and vehicle has been supplied with a sanitization kit, which includes gloves and sanitizing wipes for drivers.
If Public Transit Will Be Shut Down
Transit services are essential for thousands of people who rely on our system to move around the region, including healthcare workers.
We follow advice from health officials and have been given no indication that shutting down public transit in Metro Vancouver would be an appropriate course of action at this stage.
What can I do?
According to health experts the best ways to prevent contracting or spreading a contagious illness are frequent and thorough hand washing with soap and water, coughing or sneezing into tissues, and staying home if you are sick.
We advise everyone to follow the guidelines set out by the Canadian Public Health Agency:
Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after using the washroom and when preparing food. Use alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available.
Cough or sneeze into a tissue or the bend of your arm, not your hand. Dispose of any tissues you have used as soon as possible and wash your hands afterwards.
Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands especially after coming in contact with commonly touched surfaces like handrails, vending machines and poles.