TransLink has announced that it will be limiting seating on buses in Metro Vancouver to promote physical distancing.
Commencing next week, the transportation agencecy states that 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.
TransLink notes that the COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in far fewer passengers, and therefore it’s not expected these changes will impact travel times on the majority of bus routes. However, "commuters who use busier routes should consider building in additional travel time and consider their need to travel, particularly during rush hours."
Public transit remains crucial for thousands of essential service workers in the region, including those in the healthcare sector.
TransLink is also undertaking other initiatives to promote physical distancing:
- Customers are being asked to board buses using the rear doors where possible, with the exception of those requiring mobility assistance.
- Seating close to bus operators is already limited on certain buses.
- An education campaign has been launched asking customers to allow extra space for fellow passengers when on board transit.
- Coast Mountain Bus Company is accelerating installation of operator protection barriers on all buses.
- HandyDART has suspended fare collection in order to promote physical distancing between operators and customers.
- Customers are not able to use seats close to crew on SeaBus vessels.
Any updated travel advice and information will be provided via Transit Alerts and on Twitter. Additional information specific to COVID-19 can also be found online.
TransLink states that it will also issue partial refunds to customers who purchased monthly passes and aren't using them due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The transportation agency confirms in an email that customers will be able to get a partial refund on their monthly Compass Card pass for March. However, they'll have to put forward a request in order to receive the refund.