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From one Metro Vancouver institution to another: a retired bus operator on Army & Navy

I Love Transit - Angus McIntyre

Retired bus operator Angus McIntyre on his first day of work in 1969.

After temporarily closing like other retailers in March to help slow the spread of the COVID-19 virus, Canadian department store Army & Navy recently announced their closure is now permanent. The COVID-19 pandemic’s economic impacts proved to be insurmountable. This ends the Canadian institution’s 101-year run that began in 1919 as Canada’s first discount department store.

Just like Woodward’s and Eaton’s before that, Army & Navy holds a special place in Metro Vancouver’s collective hearts.

TransLink’s part of a storied history of transit in Metro Vancouver than spans more than a century — it celebrates its 130th anniversary this June 27. Our buses today and streetcars before that brought generations of families to Army & Navy.

Retired bus operator Angus McIntyre was no different. He steered his way through four different employers during his 41 years as a bus operator. His incredible journey began in 1969 when he went to Army and Navy to purchase a pair of Oxford shoes for his job interview with BC Hydro, which operated transit in Metro Vancouver between 1962 and 1973.

Read his guest post on what Army & Navy meant to him and transit.

Angus McIntyre

By Angus McIntyre

I shopped occasionally at the Army and Navy downtown, when skid road was an area of the city that was a bit rough, but still considered approachable by most people.

When I moved out on my own at age 19, I bought kitchenware at the Army and Navy.

At age 21, I didn’t have a lot of money, and I needed to buy a pair of black Oxford shoes in July 1969 to go for my job interview as a bus driver with B.C. Hydro. The shoe department of the Army & Navy was in a separate building on the south side of Hastings, next to Wosk’s huge appliance store. They had an affordable pair of shoes and I got the job.

Once in training, we were supplied with a changer, a transfer punch and a change fund of $120. An instructor said the best thing for our supplies, including rolls of tokens and coins, was a tackle box from the large basement fishing department at the Army & Navy. I bought a Canadian-made Beach tackle box, which sat on the front dash of the bus next to the bracket for the changer and transfer clips.

I worked the Nanaimo bus in the evening for many years, and one of my regular passengers worked in the shoe department of the Army & Navy. He always dreaded the huge annual shoe sale, which involved bringing in the inventory and dealing with massive crowds that showed up for the sale. When he boarded the bus to head home, he would give a run-down of the day’s events.

I bought a bicycle in 1970, and about a year later met another cyclist during a rainfall. He had on a lightweight, waterproof jacket and pants that he wore over his clothes. I asked where he bought it, and he told me to go to the Army & Navy. I made the purchase, and it lasted for many years.

In the 1970s the Christmas rush downtown was always very busy, and all the department stores filled with shoppers. A visit to the Army and Navy or Woodward’s usually included a snack or a meal at the Only Seafoods at Hastings and Carrall. Over the years I also shopped occasionally at the Army and Navy store in New Westminster, which was in the former Eaton’s building on Columbia Street.

How is TransLink funded?

Many of you inquired over the previous few weeks about how funding at TransLink works. One of the most common questions we received were about fares and if they comprise the main source for our revenue.

We’ve pulled together some details, graphs, and data and bring back an updated version of TransLink Funding 101 for everyone who’s curious about the subject! 

Diversified approach to funding

As the regional transportation agency, we are responsible for more than just public transport. We maintain major roads and five bridges (Knight Street Bridge, Pattullo Bridge, Golden Ears Bridge, Westham Island Bridge, The Canada Line Bike and Pedestrian bridge), work on developing multi-modal travel in the region, collaborate with our partners on the regional cycling strategy and more.

With our minds focused on spearheading an integrated system for the Greater Vancouver region, we also take a diversified approach to our funding. In short, our funding comes from more than one revenue source. This approach helps us weather changes to economy and minimize the impact of service disruptions or loss of ridership during most critical times so we can continue deliver transportation and operational services. However, with COVID-19, this has become more challenging.

SCBCTA Act has all the answers 

The discussion about TransLink’s funding would not be complete without the South Coast British Columbia Transportation Authority Act. This is the provincial legislation that provides formal guidelines for the planning, funding, management and operation of our regional transportation system.

Any changes to the revenues TransLink can collect – or how they can be collected – require many levels of approval, typically from the Province, Mayors’ Council, or some combination of these. They also require a process of extensive consultation with the public and our customers.

Under SCBCTA Act, TransLink develops a 30-year strategy and fully funded, ten-year investment plans (updated at least triennially). While 30-year strategies like Transport 2050, which is under development, provides a bigger picture of how people will live, work, play, and move around the region today and in the future, The 10-Year Investment Plan outlines all the details that determine the funding levels, such as level of services to be provided, major capital projects, estimated revenue, expenditure and borrowing.

What are our main revenue sources?

 

We rely on three main revenue streams that help us deliver our transit and operational services.

Taxation revenue (44%). This is our largest revenue stream. Although transit revenue covers about 51 per cent of our operating costs, taxation revenue helps supplement the remainder of these costs and a lot more. Sources of taxation revenue include fuel and property tax, parking rights and the hydro levy.

Transit revenue (33%). These are all types of payments that we receive from you whenever you use our transit system or programs such as UPass BC and the BC Government Bus Pass. Revenue from other complementary sources, including transit advertising, Park and Ride and revenue from the sale of carbon tax credits also fall under this category.

Government Transfers (19%). The third largest revenue stream comes from federal and provincial government transfers and helps us to fund major capital projects. This includes funds received from the Federal Gas Tax, Canada Line funding, Building Canada Fund, Public Transit Infrastructure Fund and other miscellaneous programs such as the City of  Richmond contributions for Capstan Station.

Other (4%). Other revenue sources include income from investment (interest on sinking funds, capital contributions, debt reserve funds and cash balances) and amortization of deferred concessionaire credit – both of which are not currently available to fund operations.

Figures taken from the 2019 Year-End Financial and Performance Report.

 

What do property taxes have to do with a transportation agency? And other tax details you might be wondering about.

For those who are not aware, the fact that tax revenues, and not fare revenues, comprise the largest revenue source for TransLink may come as a surprise.

TransLink relies on tax revenues, such as fuel tax and property tax, to continue to create transportation and infrastructure improvements. These initiatives, in turn, positively affect property values, increase travelling options for other modes of transportation and contribute to other complimentary benefits that don’t necessarily fall neatly under “transportation” category.

a pie chart showing the breakdown if transit revenue numbers

Transit Revenue Breakdown based on 2019 figures

a pie chart showing the breakdown of tax revenue numbers

Tax Revenue Breakdown based on 2019 figures

Fuel Tax. When people fill up their cars in TransLink’s service region, 18.5 cents of every litre sold goes to TransLink.

Property Tax. A portion of property taxes collected in the region is used to support transit, roads and bridges, walking and cycling infrastructure. The majority of property taxes goes to the Province and local municipalities.

Parking Rights Tax. TransLink currently administers parking sales tax for all off-street parking (hourly, monthly, and annually) within TransLink’s service area in Metro Vancouver.

Hydro Levy. This is a levy that is added to the hydro bill of residences in Metro Vancouver.

DCCs. A fee is collected from new developments to help pay for new transit and transportation investments required to support growth.

What are TransLink’s expenditures?

As you can guess, our expenditures are mainly spent on various transit operations and infrastructure maintenance. Below is the expenditure breakdown for 2019:

  1. Transit Operations. 62 per cent of our budget is spent on transit operations, including rail and bus.
  2. Amortization of tangible capital assets and interest – amortization is a non-cash expense that allocates the cost of our capital assets over the period the assets are expected to be in use. The cost of capital assets is funded through debt and government funding. Interest expense is incurred to service the debt.
  3. Corporate operations. about six per cent of our budget goes to corporate operations, such as information technology costs, planning, finance and human resources
  4. Road and bridges – we spend around six per cent of the annual budget on maintaining roads and five bridges.
  5. Transit police – part of our expenditure goes to maintaining Transit Police operations. This includes police equipment purchases, as well as vehicle and facility maintenance costs.
  6. Corporate one time costs – one per cent.

How has COVID-19 impacted TransLink’s revenues?

The outbreak of the pandemic has significantly impacted our operations over the last two months. With most of us staying in, the transit ridership has declined across all the modes in tandem with lower utilization of parking spaces and decreased consumption of fuel. In turn, those changes have also contributed to considerable reductions to our transit, parking tax and fuel tax revenues.

The announcement made by the provincial government and TransLink on May 8th was therefore highly important in giving reassurance to our customers.  As the province is gradually unrolling the BC’s Restart Plan, TransLink will resume fare collection on buses on June 1. We will be working on a comprehensive solution to address the major financial impacts to the work TransLink does and will continue to call on the federal government for a national solution to the challenges facing transit systems.

 

Public art installation comes to the Stadium–Chinatown Station

Davey's two photographs featuring a fowl and equines at the Stadium-Chinatown Station

Installation by Moyra Davey, Plymouth Rock, 2020 at Stadium-Chinatown SkyTrain Station. Courtesy of the Artist, Courtesy the artist; greengrassi, London; and Galerie Buchholz, Berlin/Cologne/New York.

TransLink has been a part of Capture Photography Festival for the last three years. In the past, we partnered up with local artists to bring public art installations to our SkyTrain stations, including Sḵwx̱wú7mesh Nation Basketball  in 2019, Qimash in 2018,  and Precession of the Feminine in 2017.

This year was not an exception, despite the unforeseen circumstances. The Stadium–Chinatown SkyTrain Station now features Plymouth Rock, a series by New York–based Canadian artist Moyra Davey. A set of black-and-white photographs stands out prominently against the urban backdrop of the station.

The pictures were captured during Davey’s visit to the country home of Dalie Giroux, a political theorist in La Pêche, Quebec, during the making of her film i confess (2019).  “I’d been planning to photograph the political theorist Dalie Giroux, but ended up taking pictures of her animals instead,” Davey recollects in her interview with Capture. 

Photo Credit: Capture Photography Festival

If you pay a closer attention to the photographs, you’d notice that the artist focuses her lens on fowl and equines; while providing little indication of her subjects’ context. This technique emphasizes how certain animals stand “outside of history” – “free and wild and untrammeled by the weight of human concerns”.

Photo Credit: Capture Photography Festival

This series is indebted partly to a candid identification with the work of Peter Hujar (1934–87), known for his black-and-white portraits, including those of animals.

Plymouth Rock will be on display at the station until March 2, 2021. Visit Capture Photography Festival website to learn more about the other exhibitions.

 

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.

 

Why are escalators at SkyTrain stations out of service so often?

At a height of 13 metres (43 feet), the escalators at Metrotown Station’s west stationhouse are the second highest in the SkyTrain system, surpassed only by the escalators at Granville Station at 14 metres (46 feet).

It may feel like it, but surprisingly, escalators at SkyTrain stations are not out-of-service that often.

Across the SkyTrain network, monthly escalator availability during January 2020 was 99.42 per cent for the Canada Line, and 93 per cent for the Expo and Millennium Lines.† During the rest of the times when an escalator was unavailable, it usually wasn’t because it was broken, but rather it was undergoing inspection.

There are three types of inspections that happen over the course of year.

  • Monthly: includes checking all external safety devices to ensure they are functioning and a visual of all exterior parts. This inspection takes approximately two hours per unit.
  • Quarterly: involves removing 10 steps, cleaning the top and bottom interior ends of the escalator, checking all internal and external safety devices, and inspecting the interior for wear or damage. This inspection takes approximately two days per escalator.
  • Annually: involves removing 50 per cent of the total steps in the escalator, cleaning the entire inside, checking the entire escalator for wear or damage, and inspecting all safety devices. This inspection takes approximately five days per escalator.

These inspections are part of our rigorous and robust maintenance program to ensure our escalators are safe and reliable for our customers, and ensures we maximize the escalator’s life expectancy.

“Because of this program many customers believe that our escalators are continuously out of service due to break downs when actually we are performing maintenance,” explains Harry Schmidt, manager of elevating devices at SkyTrain.

“Usually our inspections go as planned, and the escalator can be returned to service in a timely manner. However, if our escalator technicians discover any device or part that affects the safety of the unit during inspections, it must be repaired before it can carry customers again.”

Read more »

New Bike Parkades open in Coquitlam and Richmond

New Bike Parkades are now open at Burquitlam, Lafarge Lake–Douglas and Bridgeport stations! We’re expanding our Bike Parkade program to new parts of the region, making it an easier for even more people to bike to transit.

You may know us for our bus, SkyTrain, SeaBus, West Coast Express and HandyDART service, but we’re more than just transit. We’re here to support you whether you’re taking transit, walking, cycling or even driving.

On a typical day prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, there were 128,000 bike trips happening across the region. Why are there so many people cycling? Glad you asked!

Not only is cycling a healthy and pollution-free way to get around, it’s also fast! You can travel five times further on bike for the same amount of time and energy expended as walking. Try this tool to see how far you can travel by bike in five minutes!

For most trips under 5 kilometres, which account for 50 per cent of car trips in Metro Vancouver, a bicycle is faster in urban settings.

When you combine cycling with transit, you can travel even faster and further. That’s why we have Bike Parkades at transit hubs throughout the region, allowing you to easily connect to the SkyTrain, West Coast Express, RapidBus and other express bus routes.

Read more »

Take a virtual transit music break: Fridays at noon on our Facebook page

Musicians have been providing SkyTrain customers with music and entertainment since Expo ’86, performing at 11 stations along Expo and Canada Lines. The start of COVID-19 pandemic has put a stop to performances, so we’re bringing some of your favourites from your commute into your home. This month, give yourself a break and tune in to TransLink’s Facebook page every Friday at 12:00 pm to enjoy an online edition of TransLink’s Musicians Program.

Each musician will perform a 10-to-15-minute set during the stream. In lieu of tips, please consider a donation to the local initiative of your choice to support the COVID-19 pandemic response.

Here is the lineup for this month’s performances:

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Week 1 (May 8) 

Stephen Thakkar

Genre: Indie Folk 

Hailing from Oakville, Ontario, this young singer songwriter is just beginning to launch his career. His smooth vocals and high energy compliment his authenticity, creating a heartfelt and inviting experience. 

Follow on Instagram

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Week 2 (May 15)

Luifox Gutierrez & Alma Chevere World Latin Band 

Genre: latin pop, romantic ballads, rumbas, rock, salsa, reggae, zouk and flamenco Chill

LuiFox from Alma Chevere World Latin Band is a singer-songwriter and a multi-talented artist with experience in the performing arts as a Salsa dancer. Born in Venezuela with a musical family background, playing professionally over 20 years, creating compositions that are lyrical masterpieces of romance, passions, travels and the powerful emotions every immigrant feels when settling into a new life. The diversity of topics makes it easy for the audiences to connect with the music. Since 2009 LuiFox has been performing with his band “Alma Chevere” as well as as a solo artist.

Visit the band’s website

 

 

 

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Week 3 (May 22)

Caroline Olsen 

Genre: Classical and folk music

Classically-trained violist Caroline Olsen is equally at home performing with a symphony orchestra in a concert hall or a cover band at the local pub. Join her for an uplifting programme of classical and folk music adapted for solo viola. 

 

 

 

 

Apply to become TransLink Musician

You can find performing musician in almost every major city around the world. They animate corners of our streets and through their performances help us discover different genres, styles and instruments. These performers are like urban conductors, setting the tempo and mood for our city lives. Whether we are hurrying to catch a bus or get to our end destinations, catchy beats or familiar melodies encourage us to slow down and spend more time in our public spaces.

Are you a musician interested to showcase your talent and gain more practice? Apply to TransLink’s Musicians Program – sometimes referred to our busker program. It provides the opportunity for registered musicians to perform at approved SkyTrain stations, playing a variety of instruments and styles.

Each year TransLink holds annual auditions to select new musicians. Aspiring performers participate in “So You Think You Can Busk?”, an American Idol-style audition. Both single and duo performers are welcomed. Successful musicians are issued a license valid for two years. This year auditions will take place in the online format. Learn more 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.

Working together to get through the pandemic

When you think of someone working in a hospital, what Sofie does probably isn’t the first thing that comes to mind. Sofie is a hospital switchboard worker – she forwards calls between doctors and runs the hospital codes for entry, among other things. In her words, “We are sort of at the heart [of the hospital], where we are kind of like the phone operator.”

Fortunately for her, the pandemic caused by COVID-19 hasn’t affected Sofie’s work too much since her role is administrative, but she feels its reverberations.

“We have to take a lot more precautions and in dealing with patients and the public, it’s changed a little bit of our routines,…but we are not feeling the effects as much as nurses and doctors are,” says Sofie, alluding to the heroic frontline workers.

Sofie’s routine at work isn’t the only part of her life impacted by the pandemic. As someone who depends on transit to get to work, some of the service cuts we had to make on the heels of losing $75 million a month have made some parts of Sofie’s commute a little more challenging. Despite these limitations, TransLink is still moving over 75,000 people daily while we continue to best navigate the challenges of these trying times.

“It’s getting harder to get to and from work on certain shifts,” explains Sofie. “And with limited services… [buses are] not as predictable in terms of when they are going to be running… so that makes it harder.”

Fortunately, when Sofie does get on her bus, the travel time to the hospitals she works at are not longer than they were before.

As for what she can control, Sofie is doing her best to take safety precautions when she takes transit. “I try to limit in person contact as much as possible and try to keep a little extra distance,” she says, “but as long as I am dependent on taking transit there is only so much I can do.”

Sofie understands that while there is only so much that can be done to tackle the unique challenges of a pandemic, as long as everyone comes together, we can get through it. “I think it’s important to stress that everyone’s doing their part and especially healthcare workers,” says Sofie. “They are taking extra precautions, they’re doing the absolute, utmost [they can].”

“They’re risking their family’s lives and their own lives every single day and fortunately for me I’m not in that sort of front line in the same way. I’m protected, sort of, by working in an office, but the public has done a lot to take extra precautions, especially TransLink – it is appreciated.”

In order to help promote physical distancing and allow riders the opportunity to take proper safety precautions, TransLink limited seats on the bus and introduced rear-door boarding, measures which Sofie thinks are effective.

“In general, people are a little bit more careful; they’re not taking the seats closest to each other anymore, which is obviously a huge help,” explains Sofie. “And limiting the number of passengers per bus… I think it’s effective.”

Due to reduced revenue caused by COVID-19, TransLink has had to make some difficult decisions resulting in temporary staff layoffs, voluntary cuts in pay and reduction to service. We are actively working with senior government to secure more funding to reverse these decisions. Public transit is an essential service, and we know +75 000 people are still reliant on transit, including frontline workers. Sofie’s story is another in our series about the people who are keeping our region operating during this unprecedented time. We at TransLink applaud all that frontline workers are doing, and we’re working hard to get them to their important work – Together all the way.

Do you have a story like Sofie’s or know someone doing good these days? If so, we’d love to hear from you via our social channels or email. Together we can get through the challenges that COVID-19 has brought. Telling stories of the effects on each other’s lives can help.

Latest ridership numbers: your questions on service reductions answered

Over the last several days, we received a high volume of questions about TransLink’s recent cost-saving measures to preserve Metro Vancouver’s transit system.

Reducing our services was a difficult decision. TransLink is losing $75 million per month with ridership down by 83%, while still providing transit services for +75,000 customers, many of which are essential workers. We continue working with our stakeholders and government authorities on a plan to address the longer-term fiscal sustainability of TransLink so that we can continue delivering our services and reintroduce our suspended services in the future.

In this post, we’ve pulled together additional numbers and details to address some of your questions.

 

Reductions on SkyTrain, Canada Line, WCE

Our most recent measures were introduced in the context of significant decrease in ridership across all transit modes over the last several weeks. Here is the latest data on the weekday boardings before and after the introduction of COVID-19 restrictions.

Expo-Millennium Line

82% reduction in Weekday Boardings

Early March (pre-COVID-19): 359,000

Early April (after COVID-19): 65,000

Canada Line

86% reduction in Weekday Boardings

Early March (pre-COVID-19): 143,000

Early April (after COVID-19): 20,000

SeaBus

90% reduction in Weekday Boardings

Early March Weekday Boardings (pre-COVID-19): 17,300

Early April Weekday Boardings (after COVID-19): 1,800

 West Coast Express

94% reduction in Weekday Boardings

Early March Weekday Boardings (pre-COVID-19): 10,600

Early April Weekday Boardings (after COVID-19): 620

 

Bus Routes

TransLink’s priority was to maintain the routes that serve health facilities and hospitals, while making sure that the suspended routes have alternative service. For the 18 route suspensions that were introduced on Friday April 24:

  • Over 75% of these customers would have alternate routes in the same corridor (customers using the 15, 50, 480 and R3).
  • Of the remaining 25% (~800 people on weekdays), over half are on the 68 (UBC shuttle). Many of these people are in walkable distance to another bus route.
  • Almost all of the other routes that will be temporarily cancelled have less than 50 boardings per weekday.

The ridership on our bus routes have decreased significantly, according to the latest published data.

Here are the details for some of our bus routes (boardings are rounded to nearest 10):

 

50 – Waterfront Station/False Creek South

Early March Weekday Boardings (pre-COVID-19): 3,650

Early April Weekday Boardings (after COVID-19): 790

Alternative routes: Use other downtown routes (e.g. 4, 7, 23), 84, or alternate modes

 

 32 – Dunbar/Downtown Express

Early March Weekday Boardings (pre-COVID-19): 490

Early April Weekday Boardings (after COVID-19): 0

Alternative routes: Use routes 2 and 7

 

 143 – SFU/Burquitlam Station

Early March Weekday Boardings (pre-COVID-19): 3,390

Early April Weekday Boardings (after COVID-19): 0

Alternative routes: Use Millennium Line and 145

 

R3 – Lougheed Hwy RapidBus Coquitlam Central Stn/Haney Pl

Early March Weekday Boardings (pre-COVID-19): 1,820

Early April Weekday Boardings (after COVID-19): 600

Alternative routes: Use 701

 

N15 – Cambie/Downtown NightBus

Early March Weekday Boardings (pre-COVID-19): 20

Early April Weekday Boardings (after COVID-19): 0

Alternative routes: Close proximity to N10 or use alternate modes of transportation

 

N17 – UBC/Downtown NightBus

Early March Weekday Boardings (pre-COVID-19): 50

Early April Weekday Boardings (after COVID-19): 10

Alternative routes: Use alternate modes of transportation

 

N22 – Macdonald/Downtown NightBus

Early March Weekday Boardings (pre-COVID-19): 10

Early April Weekday Boardings (after COVID-19): 0

Alternative routes: Use alternate modes of transportation

 

N24 – Lynn Valley/Downtown NightBus

Early March Weekday Boardings (pre-COVID-19): 40

Early April Weekday Boardings (after COVID-19): 20

Alternative routes: Use alternate modes of transportation

Transit triathlon: a multi-modal commute from Langley to Vancouver

Arthur Orsini makes the daily “triathlon” by bus, SkyTrain and bike to get from Walnut Grove in Langley to the Fairview neighbourhood in Vancouver where he works.

As Metro Vancouver’s transportation authority, we’re here to support you whether you’re taking transit, walking, cycling or even driving.

When it comes to cycling, our program is vast and varied. It covers everything from the BC Parkway and Central Valley Greenway multi-use paths, cost-sharing with municipalities to fund improvements, to end-of-trip facilities like bike parkades and lockers. At our Bike Parkades, you can lock up your bike for $1 a day (fees capped at $8 a month) and connect with SkyTrain or bus to continue the rest of your journey.

Arthur Orsini is an essential worker. He’s also a multi-modal commuter — that means he uses more than one kind of transportation to get to where he needs to go. In his words, he does a daily “triathlon” to get from his home in Langley’s Walnut Grove to work in Vancouver’s Fairview neighbourhood.

That’s a very fun and interesting way to describe your commute! What do you mean by “triathlon?” 

I take the 555 Port Mann Express bus to Lougheed Town Centre Station, then the SkyTrain to VCC–Clark Station where I pickup my bike from a locker that I rent $10 a month, and then I bike the last portion to work. Each segment is about 20 minutes.

Where are you headed to? 

I work as a Healthy Transportation Lead at Vancouver Coastal Health. My role is to deliver projects, events and facilities that support our staff in more healthy, active and sustainable commuting.

Interesting stuff! We’re asking customers to only travel on transit if necessary and outside of peak hours, so space remains available for our essential service workers. What would it mean if you weren’t able to get to work? 

My job is to help nurses, doctors and other hospital and clinic staff navigate the changes in their commuting options. The pandemic has brought on a lot of new stresses for health-care workers, so we are trying to make the commute safer and more comfortable. Although I usually try to steer our staff towards cycling, transit and carpooling; at present I’m working on parking solutions and finding vehicles for staff dealing with a lengthy or crowded commute.

TransLink’s losing more than $75 million a month, but we remain committed to providing transit services for essential workers. We are continuing to push for funding from senior levels of government. In your words, why is it important transit keeps running?

I rely on transit and I know that many of my colleagues do too. We depend on SkyTrains and buses to get us to work on time, and home again after a long work shift.

Now let’s talk about you. What’s one little known fact about yourself that most of your colleagues or acquaintances wouldn’t know?

I’ve never owned a car.

What are you looking forward to the most when the COVID-19 pandemic is over?

I’m not going to miss my role as the recipient of a long list of emails from staff describing parking tickets, frustrations and over-crowded parkades.

If you could offer words of hope, what would it be?

My bike ride is the best part of my commute, so I’d encourage more people to get on a bike …even if just for the duration of a coffee break. And, with Mobi bike share offering VCH staff free 90-day Essential Worker memberships, a bit of cycling is even easier.

One final question. I hear people wondering about this a lot, how does one cycle in Raincouver without getting wet? 

Rain is really no barrier to cycling. I would rather just ride in my ‘ordinary clothes’ and find them insufficient about three or four times a year rather than fully outfit myself with typhoon gear. A rain jacket and gloves is usually enough for most cloudy/rainy days.

Public transit is an essential service, and we know +75 000 people are still reliant on transit, including frontline workers. Arthur’s story is another in our series about the people who are keeping our region operating during this unprecedented time. We at TransLink applaud all that frontline workers are doing, and we’re working hard to get them to their important work – Together all the way.

Do you have a story like Arthur’s or know someone doing good these days? If so, we’d love to hear from you via our social channels or email. Together we can get through the challenges that COVID-19 has brought. Telling stories of the effects on each other’s lives can help.

Delivering essential banking services

Since the outbreak of the pandemic, our lifestyles have drastically changed, as we found new ways to readjust to the new reality. We attend birthdays, family reunions and work meetings with a click of the video call button. Store pickups and home deliveries have become a new norm for shopping for household necessities.

Essential workers, who are behind all the services and infrastructures, play a crucial role in our communities, enabling us to carry on with our daily lives. Sandy Yang is one of them. She works at the local branch of a bank based in Richmond and ensures that day-to-day banking activities of her customers happen without major interruptions.

Sandy is new to Vancouver. In fact, she has moved to Canada from Taiwan in December and started her job just a few weeks before the global pandemic was announced. When asked about her impression of the last few weeks, she said “I just got to Canada, so I haven’t been around long enough to compare. But it’s unusual to see how everything is closed and everyone is staying at home during the pandemic.”

For Sandy, her work duties as a bank accountant require her to be physically present in the office. “Even though most of our services are carried out online, we have security measures in place, so we need to be at work to access all the information and make sure that our customers are served,” she explained.

Sandy works three days a week in the office with her supervisor. She doesn’t hold a driver license in Canada and has been commuting by public transport. These days she uses West Coast Express and SkyTrain to get to her work .

Social life is something Sandy misses the most about her life before the pandemic. She told us that catching up with all her friends will be the very first thing she’ll do when restrictions will be lifted. She would also like to see her family, who are now living in Taiwan.

Sandy shared a note of appreciation to everyone working on the front line:

“Thank you to all the front-line workers for being there and fighting for us. I have a friend who is currently working at the St Paul Hospital. We all know it’s very intense to work under this circumstance but again thank you!”

Public transit is an essential service, and we know +75 000 people are still reliant on transit, including frontline workers. Sandy’s story is another in our series about the people who are keeping our region operating during this unprecedented time. We at TransLink applaud all that frontline and essential workers are doing, and we’re working hard to get them to their important work – Together all the way.

Do you have a story like Sandy’s or know someone doing good these days? If so, we’d love to hear from you via our social channels or email. Together we can get through the challenges that COVID-19 has brought. Telling stories of the effects on each other’s lives can help.