British Columbia

TransLink further reduces service on bus, SeaBus and West Coast Express as ridership plummets

Metro Vancouver's transportation authority is further reducing service on its bus, SeaBus and West Coast Express routes because of plunging ridership and financial pressures amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Transportation authority trying to balance providing an essential service and mitigating lost revenues

TransLink says overall ridership has dropped more than 80 per cent across all routes since March. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

Metro Vancouver's transportation authority announced Saturday it is further reducing service on bus, SeaBus and West Coast Express routes because of plunging ridership and financial pressures amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The changes include:

  • SeaBus service will be reduced to every 30 minutes, all day long.
  • West Coast Express Train 4, which leaves Mission at 6:55 a.m. and Waterfront at 5:30 p.m., will be cancelled.
  • Buses with very low ridership will have reduced service.

Changes to buses and SeaBus will start Monday, whereas the changes to the West Coast Express start Wednesday.

TransLink didn't specify which bus routes would be reduced, but said it will maintain routes where riders are frequently passed up because the bus is full. It said it will monitor the routes to ensure that physical distancing measures — keeping at least two metres away from others — can be maintained. 

The transportation authority said since mid-March:

  • SeaBus ridership is down 90 per cent.
  • West Coast Express ridership is down 95 per cent.
  • Bus boardings are down 82 per cent.
  • Total boardings on the entire transit system are down 83 per cent. 

It's not just a reduction in ridership that has reduced TransLink's income in the past few weeks. 

Those who are still taking the bus are no longer paying fares because they have to board through the back doors in order to protect drivers. Also, it says fewer people driving has led to a 60 per cent drop in its fuel tax revenues. 

TransLink said it's "committed to continuing to provide essential service for people working in health care and other vital sectors," but further reductions in service may still come as it tries to balance those needs and its budget. 

The authority acknowledged that the service reductions would mean longer wait times for riders. It's asking people to only use transit if absolutely necessary so that space is available for essential service workers.

TransLink also said it would not implement a fare increase that was scheduled for July 1. It will consult with the mayors' council to schedule it at a later date. 

Corrections

  • A previous version of this story said changes to West Coast Express service start Monday. In fact, the changes take effect Wednesday.
    Apr 04, 2020 3:58 PM PT

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