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Category: Media Releases

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

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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.

 

TransLink implements cost saving measures

Provincial support to restore service by September

Lincoln Station along the Millennium Line
TransLink today announced a series of cost-saving measures to preserve Metro Vancouver’s transit system along with a commitment from the Province to ensure near-regular service can be restored by September. TransLink is losing $75 million per month with ridership down by 83% while still providing transit services for essential workers. This rate of financial loss is not sustainable.

Given the significant financial challenges facing the regional transportation authority, TransLink and its operating companies today announced the following cost-saving measures:

  • Implement further suspension of transit services on Bus, SkyTrain, SeaBus, and West Coast Express, beginning this week.
  • Issue temporary layoff notices to 1,492 employees. These employees work in various positions at TransLink, Coast Mountain Bus Company, and British Columbia Rapid Transit Company.
  • Reduce senior executive salaries and Board remuneration by 10%.
  • Reduce organizational costs and program expenditures, including:
    • Deferral of the 2020 Major Road Network operations, maintenance and rehabilitation program funding to municipalities.
    • Deferral of 2020 service expansions.
  • Spend cash reserves to sustain current essential service operations through to the end of 2020.

“This has been an incredibly tough decision and one we do not take lightly,” says TransLink CEO Kevin Desmond. “We’ve done our best to try and reduce costs through other means, but TransLink is losing $75 million per month, and we’re left with no other options. It’s not lost on me what an impact this decision will have on the lives of our employees and their families. I fully expect those affected will be recalled once TransLink returns to regular operations, which we are now planning for back-to-school in September, if consistent with provincial guidelines.”

TransLink and the Province of BC have been working closely to ensure that funding is available to allow TransLink to reverse layoffs and return to near-regular operations in time for back-to-school in September. TransLink and the Province are also working on a plan to address the longer-term fiscal sustainability of TransLink in order to ensure the transportation authority can continue delivering transit services and key projects in 2021 and beyond.

TransLink’s revenue has declined since mid-March due to reduced ridership levels, falling fuel tax revenue, and fare removal on the bus system to promote physical distancing. Since the beginning of the pandemic, TransLink has:

  • Reduced Bus, SkyTrain, SeaBus and West Coast Express services.
  • Reduced the seating capacity on buses to promote physical distancing.
  • Introduced rear-door only boarding and suspended fare collection on buses to protect bus operators.
  • Introduced widespread and intensive cleaning and sanitization measures on bus, HandyDART, SkyTrain, SeaBus and West Coast Express.
  • Deferred the scheduled July 1, 2020 fare increase.

Details of Service Changes

TransLink is focused on maintaining as much service as possible for the approximately 75,000 people using the system each weekday. Many of these are essential and front-line workers. However, considering the current financial trajectory, service reductions across all modes will begin this week on routes with low ridership. Capacity will continue to be focused on the routes and times with continued high demand.

Service reductions by mode are:

SkyTrain Service

  • Beginning Wednesday (April 22), Expo and Millennium Line capacity will be further reduced.
    • Expo Line capacity will be reduced by 20% during peak hours. During middays, early evenings, and weekends, capacity will be reduced by 20% to 40%, depending on the time of day.
      • These capacity reductions are in addition to a 17% reduction during peak hours and a 20% reduction on Friday and Saturday evenings, which were implemented last month.
    • Millennium Line capacity will be reduced by 15% during peak hours. During middays, early evenings, and weekends, capacity will be reduced by 20% to 40%, depending on the time of day.
      • These capacity reductions are in addition to a 17% reduction during peak hours and a 20% reduction on Friday and Saturday evenings, which were implemented last month.
    • Canada Line capacity has been reduced by 18% during peak hours.

Bus Service

  • Beginning Friday (April 24), 18 bus routes will be suspended.
    • Suspended routes: 15, 32, 50, 68, 105, 131, 132, 143, 222, 480, 414, R3.
      • Most of these routes have other transit as alternatives
    • Suspended NightBus routes: N8, N15, N17, N22, N24, N35.
  • Beginning in early May, we expect another 47 routes will be suspended, and frequency reduced on many remaining routes.
    • Expected route suspensions: 251, 252, 262, 280, 281, 282, 370, 563, 564, 044, 170, 181, 182, 231, 241, 247, 258, 345, 352, 354, 391, 393, 394, 395, 416, 509, 602, 603, 604, 606, 608, 614, 616, 617, 618, 619, 719, 722, 733, 741, 744, 748, 749, 791, 042, 150, 179.
    • Precise timing for these suspensions and reductions will be released in due course.
  • TransLink is prioritizing service to routes serving hospitals and other health facilities.
  • Routes selected for suspension either duplicate other routes or are in low ridership areas.
  • The number of people TransLink can move on buses was reduced to around 30% of normal levels due to physical distancing measures. Once all planned service reductions are implemented, the number of people TransLink can move will decrease further, to around 20% of normal levels.

SeaBus Service

  • Beginning Wednesday (April 22), SeaBus will end service earlier.
    • The last SeaBus sailing of the day will happen at 7:30 p.m. from Lonsdale Quay and 7:45 p.m. from Waterfront.
  • SeaBus will continue sailings every 30-minutes.

West Coast Express Service

  • Beginning Wednesday (April 22), West Coast Express trains One, Three, and Five will continue to operate on existing schedules but will have fewer cars.
  • Trains Two and Four remain suspended.

Essential Services and Physical Distancing

With ridership down over 80% across the system, analysis suggests physical distancing will still be possible for most trips. TransLink has limited seating on buses and operators will not make any stops once capacity is reached. On SkyTrain, customers are asked to try a different car or wait for the next train if they feel there is not enough space to remain physically distant from other passengers.

Customers are also asked to only travel on transit if necessary, so space is available for essential service workers.

TransLink seeking emergency funding

New figures show TransLink is losing $75 million per month

TransLink is seeking emergency relief funding from the Federal and Provincial Governments to offset losses incurred for providing essential transit services during the pandemic.  Without emergency funding, Metro Vancouver commuters are set to see unprecedented cuts to transit services.

“We’ve done the best we can to keep essential services operating for those workers who need it, to get to their workplaces, but we are losing $75 million per month and on our current trajectory, we will face cashflow issues within weeks,” said TransLink CEO Kevin Desmond. “It’s a dire situation which will force us to cancel entire routes and significantly reduce service levels on all transit modes, meaning far longer wait times and much more crowding for customers.”

TransLink has been deemed an essential service by the Provincial Government during the COVID-19 pandemic.  However, since mid-March, TransLink’s operating revenue has been cut in half.  Emergency funding is necessary to ensure a reasonable level of essential service can be maintained while respecting safe physical distancing requirements.  It is also necessary to ensure a rapid transition to full service can occur once the recovery phase begins.

“We need an emergency funding package from the Provincial or Federal Government if reliable transit services are to continue for more than 75,000 people, who will otherwise be left stranded,” said Mayors’ Council Chair Jonathan Coté. “Essential workers have been relying on transit to get to work every day – that’s health care workers, childcare workers, service workers.  Our transit system will also be critical during the COVID-19 recovery phase and we must ensure that it’s able to quickly shift back to full-service capacity when people start returning to work.”

TransLink’s revenue has declined due to reduced ridership levels, falling fuel tax revenue, and fare removal on the bus system to promote physical distancing.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, TransLink has:

  • Reduced Bus service by 15-20%, while also reducing SkyTrain, SeaBus and West Coast Express services.
  • Reduced the seating capacity on buses to promote physical distancing.
  • Introduced rear-door only boarding and suspended fare collection on buses to protect bus operators.
  • Introduced widespread and intensive cleaning and sanitization measures on bus, HandyDART, SkyTrain, SeaBus and West Coast Express.
  • Deferred the scheduled July 1, 2020 fare increase.

TransLink limits bus seating to promote physical distancing

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.
  • Due to the physical distancing required by health authorities in BC, bus operators will not be able to assist our wheelchair customers with being strapped in a front-facing position on our conventional buses. Those with mobility devices on buses that have a rear facing accessible seat will be able to park in the designated area themselves and secure their device. This is the case for most buses. For buses that do not have this area (e.g. highway coaches, Community Shuttle) customers with mobility devices will need to travel with someone who can assist them or find an alternate mode of travel.

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.

HandyDART fare collection suspended to protect operators and promote physical distancing

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.

Minor service reductions and in-person customer service centre closures

 

City scene with bus and SkyTrain in the background

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:

TransLink moves to rear-door boarding on buses to promote social distancing

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.

TransLink boosting bus service to carry up to 20,000 more people each weekday

RapidBus service starts on January 6 in conjunction with our quarterly service changes.

We’re increasing bus service on January 6 to improve bus service frequency and reliability where customers need it most! The significant increases in service will add 65,000 more annual bus service hours to the system, making space for up to 20,000 more people each weekday.

Bus service changes happen every spring, summer, fall, and winter to reflect seasonal changes in demand and to deliver service improvements.

RapidBus service launching on January 6:

  • R1 King George Blvd (Guildford Exchange/Newton Exchange)
    • Eight-minute service during peak hours
  • R3 Lougheed Hwy (Coquitlam Central Station/Haney Place)
    • 10-minute service during peak hours
  • R4 41st Ave (Joyce Station/UBC)
    • Three to six-minute service during peak hours
  • R5 Hastings St (Burrard Station/SFU)
    • Four to five-minute service during peak hours

Outside of peak hours, all RapidBus routes will have 15-minute service or better from 6 a.m. to midnight, sevendays a week. To make the bus system more efficient, there will also be adjustments to some Metro Vancouver bus routes. Key changes include:

  • 41 Joyce Station/Crown
    • New terminus at Crown Street, instead of UBC Bus Exchange
    • 15-minute service during service hours every day
  • 43 Joyce Station/UBC
    • Service replaced by R4 RapidBus
  • 480 UBC/Bridgeport
    • Will run peak hours only
    • For faster service between Bridgeport and UBC, customers can take the Canada Line and the R4 RapidBus connecting with Oakridge Station

Learn more about how your commute might change at translink.ca/servicechanges.

Customer options ahead of BCRTC job action

We’re pleased to share BC Rapid Transit Company and CUPE 7000 have reached a negotiated, tentative deal. Please expect delays while BCRTC works towards providing regular schedules on the Expo and Millennium Lines this morning, Dec. 10.

TransLink is informing customers of their options if union job action causes a total Expo and Millennium Line shut down December 10, 11 and 12. Customers should be aware the travel options will not match the level of service these SkyTrain lines provide.

While it will not be possible to replicate Expo and Millennium Line service, TransLink is highlighting options for customers should a full strike occur tomorrow. Most transit service will be operating normally including:

  • Canada Line
  • West Coast Express
  • Coast Mountain Bus
  • West Vancouver Blue Bus
  • HandyDART
  • SeaBus

TransLink has been told that given operational constraints and labour considerations, Coast Mountain Bus Company (CMBC) is not able to increase bus service in response to the planned strike by employees of the BC Rapid Transit Company (BCRTC). CMBC advises that service will be operating as it would on any regular weekday.

Customers should be prepared for heavier passenger volume as people migrate from Expo and Millennium Line to other services. If possible, customers are advised to make other arrangements such as:

  • Using one of our park and rides to connect to bus service
  • Travelling outside of rush hours
  • Working from home
  • Using a carpooling service such as Liftango and gobyRIDE
  • Walking or cycling to work
  • Free bike valet service at Vancouver Public Library from 7:30 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.

To plan a trip without SkyTrain, both TransLink’s Trip Planner and Google Maps have an option to exclude SkyTrain. Visit translink.ca/stayinformed to learn more about alternative travel options.

BCRTC remains committed to getting a deal done and will continue bargaining until the last moment to avoid disruptive job action for customers. Customers should check the status of service before travelling in the morning in case a deal has been reached.

Record-high 31,682 responses for Transport 2050 Phase One engagement

Three of the more than 4,000 bold and creative ideas submitted as part of Transport 2050: Phase One engagement.

Expanding and improving Metro Vancouver’s transit system is a top priority for residents regardless of whether they drive, cycle, or take transit. That is one of the conclusions of the first phase of engagement with Metro Vancouver residents as part of Transport 2050.

To help develop the next 30-year blueprint, TransLink asked the region to share its priorities, concerns, values, and ideas. Through the first phase of public engagement, TransLink reached 159,000 people and received a record-breaking 31,682 responses through its survey. Respondents also submitted over 4,000 ideas for the future of transportation.  Read more »

TransLink opens second round of public engagement with new Surrey Langley SkyTrain project details

TransLink has opened a new round of public engagement on the proposed Surrey Langley SkyTrain project, and rapid transit on 104 Avenue and King George Boulevard.

Following direction from the Mayors’ Council on Regional Transportation in July, TransLink is moving forward with project development on the proposed Surrey Langley SkyTrain. While current available funding would enable an extension to 166 St in Fleetwood, subject to business case approval by senior governments, TransLink has been tasked with planning for the full 16-kilometre line to 203 St in Langley City Centre. Read more »

TransLink proposes two new major bus routes

TransLink is inviting customers and neighbours to have their say on two proposed new bus routes serving North Vancouver, Vancouver and Burnaby. During this round of engagement, customers are invited to provide their feedback on: Read more »

Compass Card taps into new modes of transport

Compass Cards will soon be used to pay for and unlock travel with TransLink, Modo, Evo, and Mobi by Shaw Go, as part of a limited pilot program launching today.  The Shared Mobility Pilot Program will see select Vancouver-based employers provide their employees with co-branded Compass Cards for use on trips with any of the four transportation providers.

“The Shared Mobility Pilot Program is ultimately about providing more choices and more convenience for customers,” says Kevin Desmond, TransLink’s CEO.

“Those participating can take transit on their morning commute, cycle to meeting locations throughout the day, and unlock carshare services for the journey back home. These individual trips will now all be possible with one easy and seamless payment method.” Read more »