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TransLink to resume fare collection on buses starting June 1

TransLink says they have come up with a way to protect bus drivers on all vehicles in their fleet
TransLink will resume fare collection and front-door boarding on all buses starting June 1, 2020. File photo

No more free rides: TransLink announced Monday that they will resume fare collection on all buses, along with front-door boarding, starting June 1.

TransLink says they have come up with a way to protect bus drivers on all vehicles in their fleet, in order to allow passengers to be in close proximity as they board and deposit their payment or tap their Compass card.

Temporary plexiglass extension barriers are being added to conventional buses currently equipped with traditional operator barriers, while vinyl barriers will be installed on the remainder of the fleet, says TransLink.

“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 in a media release. “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.”

Rear-door only boarding, along with the suspension of fare collection on buses, began on March 20 as an early response measure to the growing COVID-19 crisis across the region. 

However, in the following weeks, ridership dipped dramatically as schools and workplaces shifted to online and at-home models for many users, and recreational travel subsided. 

Given current ridership levels, TransLink estimates they stand to earn approximately $2 million per month by bringing back fare collection on the bus system. TransLink says they are currently losing around $75 million each month due to several factors, including significant reductions in ridership and fuel tax revenue.

A planned fare hike scheduled to be implemented July 1 was halted in early April.

Last month, TransLink announced a number of cost-cutting measures including temporary route suspensions and frequency reductions across their bus service. 

Many of those reductions remain slated to take effect on May 18. 

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.

TransLink adds that they are encouraging transit use be reserved for essential trips and service workers only.