TransLink Operations During the COVID-19 Pandemic

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The COVID-19 Pandemic has had a large impact on TransLink operations in various ways, including a steep loss in revenue as well as a major reduction in bus service resulting from a major decline in ridership.

List of Important Events

2009 Bombardier Mk2 #301 featuring the copper surfaces demonstration
Buses ran with limited capacity for much of Spring 2020 in order to promote social distancing.
8140 departs UBC Exchange sporting the 'Wearing is Caring' campaign wrap.
19040 passes Park Royal displaying the "REAR BOARDING ONLY" sign.
18395 passes Walnut Street on Cornwall Avenue displaying the "MASKS MANDATORY" sign.
18036 during its tenure as a mobile vaccination clinic in Fraser Health

Despite not being mentioned in the press releases, bus services continue to undergo some cancellations. See the List of Reductions By Service Mode table for the explicit list of service reductions.

Date Overview Source
March 19, 2020
  • Coast Mountain Bus Company restricts loading and unloading of buses to only take place at the rear doors of buses
  • Coast Mountain Bus Company suspends collection of fares on buses in order to reduce transmission
  • Increased installation of driver barriers
  • Increased cleaning on all modes of transit
[1]
March 23, 2020
  • Reduction of SeaBus service from every 10 minutes during peak hours to every 15 minutes
  • Reduction of empty buses and reallocation of service to other routes which lack in observing social distancing
  • Reduction of SkyTrain frequency on the Expo and Millennium Lines while keeping the time for the first/last trains
[2]
March 24, 2020
  • Suspension of fare collection on HandyDART service
[3]
March 25, 2020
  • Reduction of seating on all buses and SeaBuses in order to promote social distancing
[4]
April 4, 2020
  • Mass reduction of service on all modes of service, select university routes cancelled prematurely
  • SeaBus: reduction of service to every 30 minutes
  • West Coast Express: Train 4 in both directions cancelled
  • Increase of fares scheduled for July 1 postponed to a later date
  • Release of details of reduced ridership since mid-March: SeaBus ridership down 90%, West Coast Express by 95%, Bus boardings by 82%, adding up to 83% on the entire transit system.
  • Fuel tax revenue down by 60%
[5]
April 13, 2020
  • TransLink announces a revenue loss of $75 million per month
  • TransLink seeks bailouts from provincial and federal governments
[6]
April 20, 2020
  • Second wave of mass reduction of service on all modes of service (see next two boxes)
  • Layoff notices issued to more than 1,400 employees in various positions
  • Reduction of senior executive salaries and Board pay by 10%
  • Deferral of further service expansions in 2020
[7]
April 22, 2020
  • SkyTrain: Expo/Millennium Lines undergo capacity reduction of 15-20%, Canada Line peak hour reduction by 18%
  • SeaBus: first/last sailings at 7:45 pm from Waterfront Station and 7:30 pm from Lonsdale Quay, while maintaining sailings every 30 minutes
  • West Coast Express: reduction of train cars and cancellation of trains 2 and 4 in both directions
April 24, 2020
  • Suspension of bus services on routes 15, 32, 50, 68, 105, 131, 132, 143, 222, 480, 414, R3, N8, N15, N17, N22, N24, and N35
May 8, 2020
  • Service reductions that were scheduled for May 18, 2020, were cancelled. The Provincial Government has secured funding to allow TransLink to continue operations; however additional funding is still expected from the Federal Government.
[8]
May 15-18, 2020
  • General rollback of service changes implemented on April 22-24, 2020
June 1, 2020
  • TransLink scheduled to resume fare collection after installation of additional barriers.
  • CMBC to resume regular seating on all bus routes
[9]
June 11, 2020
  • Hand sanitizers are added onto Rapidbuses, major exchanges, select SkyTrain stations, and both SeaBus terminals
[10]
June 15, 2020
  • TransLink launches "Wearing is Caring", an initiative to increase the wearing of face coverings on transit. Included in this campaign was a pop-up mask giveaway at select bus loops and SkyTrain Stations. Additionally, two buses were wrapped to promote the campaign.
[11]
August 24, 2020
  • Masks are made mandatory on transit. Accommodations are to be made for those who qualify for an exemption.
[12]
November 10, 2020
  • Copper and Organosilane project pilot launches for two weeks. A pilot being run by institutions such as UBC and Science World, the project aims to reduce the spread of germs by using a copper alloy on frequently touched surfaces. Two SkyTrain cars and two buses are involved in the pilot.
[13]
November 27, 2020
  • Provincial mask mandate: Face shields no longer qualify as acceptable face protection, exemptions and other accommodations are abolished
December 16, 2020
  • Suspension of New Year's Eve services on buses, SkyTrain, West Coast Express and free fares after 5:00 pm due to provincial health orders. SeaBus to maintain sailings every 15 minutes until 1:00 am.
[14]
March 4, 2021
  • The Copper and Organosilane pilot, launched in November 2020, was determined to be a success, a second phase to the pilot is announced including expansion to additional transit vehicles and increased studying
[15]
March 5, 2021
  • A Photocatalytic Oxidation pilot is announced and will be tested on three buses (An XDE60 and two Enviro500s)
[16]
July 1, 2021
  • TransLink repeals its masks mandatory policy citing the low number of cases and step 3 of the BC government restart plan. Masks will still be recommended on vehicles and stations.
August 25, 2021
  • Masks mandatory policy returns by order of the Provincial Health Officer for masks to be worn in all indoor public spaces throughout the province.
[17]

Vancouver Coastal Health shuttles

On March 29, 2021, a shuttle bus service was set up by Vancouver Coastal Health to aid North Vancouver residents in getting to their vaccination appointments. The shuttle was operated by TransLink and ran from Capilano Mall to the ICBC test collection site. The service was scheduled to run until Thursday, April 1.[18]

Fraser Health Vaccination Campaign

On July 13, 2021, TransLink and Fraser Health announced a mobile vaccination campaign. The Mobile Vaccine Bus program involved the use of unit 18036.[19] A second bus, unit 18130, was also used in tandem as a mobile vaccination site since the July 30 clinic at the Tsawwassen Ferry Terminal.

Dates Locations
July 14 White Rock[20][21]
July 20 Aldergrove[22]
July 26 Fort Langley
July 30 Tsawwassen Ferry Terminal
August 10 Meadowtown Shopping Centre
August 13 Metrotown Station
August 18 Tsawwassen Mills Mall
August 19 Meadowtown Shopping Centre
August 23 Central City
August 26 Metrotown Station
August 28 Haney Place Farmer's Market
August 30 Simon Fraser University
September 27 Meadowtown Shopping Centre

List of Reductions and Changes By Service Mode

SkyTrain

All stations have implemented a one-way entrance/exit at each entrance.

Mark 1 trains were also operating in a 4-car formation at this time in order to reduce maintenance costs. That was rescinded on May 18, 2020.

SeaBus

SeaBus service was reduced to every 15 minutes during rush hours starting March 23, 2020, with capacity reduced to just 50%.
Service was further reduced to every 30 minutes all day on April 6th. Sailings past 7:45 PM were cancelled starting April 22nd.

As of July 13, 2020, SeaBus has re-instated peak-hour frequency every 15 minutes. The maximum capacity continues to be 50%. By Summer 2021, load restrictions were rescinded, although crowds are still monitored.

10-minute peak hour service was reinstated on September 6, 2021.

West Coast Express

On March 26, 2020, Train 2 was cancelled in both directions followed by Train 4 on April 8, leaving Trains 1, 3, and 5 operating. Initially, trains were between 2 and 4 cars long. In mid-June, capacities were increased to between 3 and 5 cars long. And by August, trains were between 3 and 6 cars long.

On September 6, 2021, Train 4 in both the morning and afternoon was reintroduced.

Bus

The following routes will undergo additional/alternate forms of service reductions. An unscheduled trip is when a bus is instructed to run as an additional unscheduled service. As a result, the bus is not able to be tracked using publicly available GTFS (General Transit Feed Specification) services, such as Google transit or the Next Bus site (nb.translink.ca).

Initial service changes included a drastic capacity reduction.

Capacities were as follows:

  • Community Shuttles: 9-10 seated passengers
  • Conventional buses: 10-12 seated passengers
  • Articulated buses: 16-18 seated passengers
  • Double-decker buses: 35 seated passengers

Regular seating capacity resumed on June 1, 2020, along with the resumption of front door boarding and fare collection. Standees aboard buses will, however, continue to be limited.
Capacities are as follows:

  • Community Shuttles: 10-15 passengers (WVMT: 19 passengers)
  • Conventional buses: 30-35 passengers (WVMT: 35 for LFS, 39 for XD40)
  • Articulated buses: 40-45 passengers
  • Double-decker buses: 55-60 passengers

The "Jump Seat" is a seat or selection of seats directly behind the driver's area found on all buses made by Nova Bus and Orion. These were closed off in March 2020 to promote safe distancing and will continue to be closed off until further notice.[23]

In addition, several routes underwent drastic changes and reductions during the first wave of the pandemic. Some of the known changes included the following:

Route Status Date
19

Seasonal service for the summer (Short-turn trips between Main Street Station and Stanley Park) is withdrawn
Additional shuttle service between Metrotown Station and Broadway at Kingsway between scheduled trips

6/2020
28

Addition of select unscheduled trips using articulated buses

4/3/2020
32

Route cancelled

4/24/2020
100

Addition of unscheduled trips operated by Vancouver Transit Centre.
Conversion of select trips to use articulated buses operated by Hamilton Transit Centre during peak hours

4/19/2020
5/2020
130

Addition of unscheduled trips using articulated buses

4/24/2020
160

Unscheduled conventional "Special" trips originating from Coquitlam Central Station in both directions during the rush hour period.
Conversion of select trips to use articulated buses

4/19/2020
189

Select conventional peak hour trippers downgraded to use Community Shuttles

4/24/2020
210

Conversion of select PM Peak trips to use articulated buses

4/24/2020
227

Seasonal service for the summer is withdrawn

6/8/2020
240

Addition of unscheduled trips using articulated buses

4/24/2020
258

Route cancelled

3/17/2020
319
320
321
323
324
325

Conversion of select evening trips to operate with articulated buses

n/a
Several local
Richmond routes

Conversion of select scheduled trips to operate with articulated buses

4/24/2020
430

Conversion of select scheduled trips to operate with articulated buses

4/24/2020
480

Route cancelled

4/24/2020
501

Conversion of select trips to use articulated buses.

4/24/2020
502

Conversion of select trips to use articulated buses.

4/24/2020
503

Conversion of select evening Aldergrove trips to operate with articulated buses

n/a
640

Conversion of select trips to use articulated buses.

4/13/2020
701

Conversion of select trips to use articulated buses.

4/26/2020

Below is a list of bus routes that had drastic pandemic-related suspensions and alterations that were partially or fully reversed as health restrictions were lifted:

Route Date Suspended Date Reversed Notes
19 6/2020 6/21/2021
  • Seasonal summer service (Main Street Station–Stanley Park short-turn trips) restored
  • Short-turn trips only operated on Canada Day
44 6/22/2020 9/6/2021
  • Regular service restored running with 40-foot buses instead of 60-foot articulated buses
  • Overload AM trips running with 60-foot buses introduced shortly after route reintroduction to reduce overcrowding
  • Shortened operating hours
143 4/19/2020 9/6/2021
  • Regular service restored running with 40-foot buses instead of 60-foot articulated buses
  • Shortened operating hours

References

  1. TransLink COVID-19 Update: TransLink moves to rear-door boarding on buses to promote social distancing, translink.ca, retrieved 05-05-2020
  2. TransLink COVID-19 Update: Minor service reductions and in-person customer service centre closures, translink.ca, retrieved 05-05-2020
  3. TransLink COVID-19 Update: HandyDART fare collection suspended to protect operators and promote physical distancing, translink.ca, retrieved 05-05-2020
  4. TransLink COVID-19 Update: Seating limits on buses to promote physical distancing, translink.ca, retrieved 05-05-2020
  5. TransLink COVID-19 Update: Service reductions beginning Monday and July fare increase deferred, translink.ca, retrieved 05-05-2020
  6. TransLink seeking emergency funding, translink.ca, retrieved 05-05-2020
  7. TransLink implements cost saving measures, translink.ca, retrieved 05-05-2020
  8. Province and TransLink to ensure transit service in place to support B.C.’s Restart Plan, translink.ca, retrieved 05-08-2020
  9. Bus fare collection set to resume June 1, translink.ca, retrieved 05-05-2020
  10. TransLink boosts availability of sanitizer dispensers, translink.ca, retrieved 06-11-2020
  11. https://www.translink.ca/About-Us/Media/2020/June/TransLink-launches-Wearing-is-Caring-campaign.aspx TransLink launches Wearing is Caring campaign], translink.ca, retrieved 07-20-2020
  12. Face masks will be mandatory on public transit across much of B.C., cbc.ca, retrieved 08-18-2020
  13. Copper and Organosilane Transit Project, TransLink.ca, retrieved 11-14-2020
  14. TransLink suspends free transit on New Year’s Eve, TransLink.ca, retrieved 12-20-2020
  15. Copper kills up to 99.9% of bacteria on transit surfaces, study finds, TransLink.ca, retrieved 03-06-2021
  16. TransLink tests technology to sanitize air on buses, TransLink.ca, retrieved 03-06-2021
  17. Mask mandate to reduce transmission, protect people in public spaces, Government of British Columbia, retrieved 25-08-2021
  18. VCH rolls out free trial shuttle bus for North Vancouver COVID-19 vaccination clinic, nsnews.com, retrieved 04-01-2021
  19. Fraser Health's vaccine push takes to streets of White Rock, citynews1130.com, retrieved 07-14-2021
  20. Fraser Health's vaccine push takes to streets of White Rock, citynews1130.com, retrieved 07-14-2021
  21. Fraser Health and TransLink roll into White Rock with the Mobile Vaccine Bus Fraser Health, retrieved 17-07-2021
  22. Fraser Health hosting immunization clinics in Aldergrove and Chilliwack Fraser Health, retrieved 20-07-2021
  23. September 23, 2021 Board Meeting Minutes, translink.ca, retrieved 2021-09-18
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Retired Fleet 1158–1192 1205–1223 1209–1210 2701–2947 3001–3021 3101–3210 3211–3257 3258–3282 3283–3299, 3301–3308 4101–4115 4116–4143 4144–4192 4193–4199, 4201–4278 5501–5508 5509–5521 6601–6630 7101–7150 7151–7197, 7199–7243 7244–7246 7247–7297 7298 7301–7374 8001–8021 8022–8047 8048–8099, 8101 9101–9115 9116–9127
Retired Community Shuttle Fleet S001 S002 (1st) S002 (2nd) S003–S004 S006–S012 S013–S016 S017 S018–S056 S057–S059 S060–S061 S062–S102 S200–S236 S237–S257 S258–S301 S302–S356 S357–S380 S381 S382–S393 S410–S434 S435–S464 S465–S471 S501–S544 S1301–S1320 S1321 S1322–S1325
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Other List of TransLink Ad-WrapsTransLink Operations During the COVID-19 PandemicTransLink Vancouver 2010 Olympic Operations
SeaBus SeaBus
Current Fleet Burrard BeaverBurrard Pacific BreezeBurrard Otter IIBurrard Chinook
Retired Fleet Burrard Otter
Terminals R2 Marine Dr Lonsdale QuayCanada LineExpo LineTransLink West Coast Express bullet-a.pngR5 Hastings St Waterfront Station
Bus Loops and Exchanges
Vancouver Expo Line 29th Avenue StationBlanca Loop99 B-Line Boundary LoopExpo LineR5 Hastings St Burrard StationExpo LineMillennium Line99 B-Line Commercial–Broadway StationR4 41st Ave Dunbar LoopExpo LineR4 41st Ave Joyce StationKnight Street–Marine DriveR5 Hastings St Kootenay LoopExpo Line Main Street StationCanada Line Marine Drive StationMarpole LoopExpo Line Nanaimo StationStanley Park LoopR4 41st Ave99 B-Line UBC ExchangeCanada LineExpo LineSeaBusTransLink West Coast Express bullet-a.pngR5 Hastings St Waterfront Station
Burnaby &
New West
Expo Line 22nd Street StationExpo Line Braid StationMillennium Line Brentwood StationExpo Line Edmonds StationExpo LineMillennium Line Lougheed StationExpo Line New Westminster StationExpo LineMillennium Line Production Way StationExpo Line Metrotown StationR5 Hastings St SFU ExchangeMillennium Line Sperling Station
Tri-Cities Millennium Line Burquitlam StationMillennium LineTransLink West Coast Express bullet-a.pngR3 Lougheed Hwy Coquitlam Central StationMillennium LineTransLink West Coast Express bullet-a.png Moody Centre StationTransLink West Coast Express bullet-a.png Port Coquitlam Station
Richmond Canada Line Bridgeport StationCanada Line Richmond–Brighouse StationSteveston Exchange
North Shore Capilano UniversitySeaBusR2 Marine Dr Lonsdale QuayLynn Valley CentreR2 Marine Dr Park RoyalR2 Marine Dr Phibbs Exchange
Pitt Meadows
& Maple Ridge
R3 Lougheed Hwy Haney PlaceTransLink West Coast Express bullet-a.png Maple Meadows StationTransLink West Coast Express bullet-a.png Pitt Meadows Station
South of Fraser Carvolth ExchangeR1 King George Blvd Guildford ExchangeLadner ExchangeLangley CentreR1 King George Blvd Newton ExchangeExpo Line Scott Road StationScottsdale ExchangeSouth Delta ExchangeSouth Surrey Park and RideExpo LineR1 King George Blvd Surrey Central StationWhite Rock Centre
Former Exchanges Airport StationBrentwood MallCoquitlam Recreation CentreCoquitlam StationEast Guildford Park and RideLougheed MallLougheed Park and RideMatthews ExchangeMeadow Ridge CentrePitt Meadows Park and RidePort Moody StationPNE Park and RidePort Coquitlam CentreRenfrew LoopRichmond CentreRichmond ExchangeSexsmith Park and RideSouth Richmond Park and RideWalnut Grove Park and Ride
Routes
TransLink RapidBus branding-a.png R1 R2 R3 R4 R5
Conventional 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 14 15 16 17 19 20 22 25 26 27 28 29 32 33 41 44 49 50 84 99 100 101 104 106 110 112 116 119 123 128 129 130 133 134 136 143 144 145 150 151 152 153 155 156 159 160 179 183 188 191 209 210 211 212 222 228 229 230 231 232 236 240 241 245 246 247 249 250 253 254 255 257 258 301 311 312 314 316 319 320 321 323 324 325 326 329 335 337 340 341 342 345 350 351 352 354 364 375 388 391 393 394 395 401 402 403 404 405 406 407 408 410 418 430 480 501 502 503 509 531 555 595 601 602 603 604 606 608 620 640 701 791
Community Shuttle 23 31 42 68 103 105 109 131 132 146 147 148 157 169 170 171 172 173 174 175 180 181 182 184 185 186 187 189 214 215 227 251 252 256 262 280 281 282 310 322 360 361 362 363 370 371 372 373 412 413 414 416 560 561 562 563 564 609 614 616 618 619 719 722 733 741 743 744 745 746 748 749
NightBus N8 N9 N10 N15 N17 N19 N20 N22 N24 N35
School Trips 840 848 855 861 863 864 865 880 881
Discontinued/ Renumbered 1 23 35 42 43 51 70 95 96 97 98 102 103 108 114 115 125 131 133 135 137 139 142 147 148 149 150 154 158 161 162 163 164 165 166 167 168 177 178 179 189 190 197 222 226 239 242 259 290 292 310 317 318 328 330 332 353 355 356 357 358 390 411 420 421 424 425 488 490 491 492 496 506 507 511 590 617 705 709 712 721 722 804 807 828 C1 C2 C3 C4 C5 C6 C7 C8 C9 C10 C11 C12 C15 C18 C19 C20 C21 C22 C23 C24 C25 C26 C27 C28 C29 C30 C31 C35 C36 C37 C38 C40 C41 C43 C44 C45 C46 C47 C48 C49 C50 C51 C52 C53 C60 C61 C62 C63 C64 C70 C71 C73 C74 C75 C76 C84 C86 C87 C88 C89 C90 C92 C93 C94 C95 C96 C98 C99 N6 N16Games ExpressMetrotown ShuttleNorth Vancouver Games ExpressTransLink West Coast Express bullet-a.png TrainBus