TransLink has backed down on its demands a Coast Mountain bus driver stop dressing up as Santa Claus and hang up his red velvet suit.

On Thursday morning TransLink said it would permit bus driver Kirk Rockwell to dress up as Santa while driving his bus during the holiday season.

For the past 16 years, Rockwell has been dressing up on the job as Santa Claus for the holidays — a habit he says is popular with customers.

In November, Rockwell went to a Coast Mountain Bus Company supervisor and got the annual permission he needs to don the suit when he's behind the wheel.

But a day into the season, he got a letter rescinding permission, telling him there would be no Santa suits on the buses.

"I've never had a problem. This is the first time in 16 years," he said.

"I average, since the beginning of December, 65 photographs a day where people want to take pictures, or want pictures with me," he told CBC News.

Originally TransLink's Derek Zabel said a policy change a year ago banned costumes of all kinds, as drivers must be identifiable in case of emergency situations.

With files from the CBC's Farrah Merali and Belle Puri