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TransLink rescinds roughly 1,500 layoff notices to bus operators, SkyTrain attendants

TransLink and its operating companies will also suspend the service reductions planned to begin on May 18.
Metro Vancouver bus and SeaBus operators and maintenance workers represented by Unifor have ratified their new contract with Coast Mountain Bus Company. Photo: Bus driving on Granville Street/Shutterstock

TransLink states that it is rescinding layoff notices it issued to roughly 1,500 employees last month and that it will suspend service reductions planned to begin mid-May.

On May 8, the transportation agency remarked that Metro Vancouverites can 'rest assured' that they'll be able to get to work smoothly as it works with the B.C. government to ensure transit service is available in the coming days and weeks.

TransLink states that it is working with the Province on a comprehensive solution to address the financial impacts that it has incurred due to the COVID-19 pandemic. As a result of these discussions, the transit authority 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

“This is another important step forward for re-starting British Columbia and Metro Vancouver’s economy," said Kevin Desmond, TransLink CEO. "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.”

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.

“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," said Selina Robinson, Minister for Municipal Affairs and Housing. 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.”

Yesterday, Unifor, the union representing bus operators and transit maintenance workers, said the plan to relax COVID-19 restrictions in B.C. is incomplete without restored public transit service

On April 20, nearly 1,200 Coast Mountain Bus Company workers received notice of layoff effective May 18. Since then, the union has fought the layoffs, and hosted a 'virtual rally' on April 25. The union states that urban transit systems are a vital link in the pandemic response, and an important part of fighting the spread of COVID-19 on a daily basis. In Vancouver alone, they state that roughly 50,000 essential service workers regularly rely on public transit to get to work. 

When CMBC workers first received the layoff notice, Unifor stated that the lay-off threats had the union concerned about more crowding, making social distancing on transit more difficult. What's more, they say that reduced bus capacity is already leading to physical distancing violations and abuse of transit operators.