NEW WESTMINSTER (NEWS 1130) – TransLink will begin waiving bus fares on Friday and asking riders to board using rear doors only to combat the spread of COVID-19.
Customers will also not be able to use seats close to operators on certain buses, nor those near crews on SeaBus vessels.
“Given TransLink cannot collect cash fares at the rear doors, and some buses aren’t equipped with Compass Card readers at that entrance, we are also suspending fare collection on the bus system,” says a release from Ben Murphy, with TransLink.
“We are taking this step to allow greater social distancing to protect our Coast Mountain Bus Company operators at this time. Customers requiring mobility assistance can continue to use the front doors if needed.”
Transit now free for all bus riders in #MetroVancouver: "Given TransLink cannot collect cash fares at the rear doors, and some buses aren’t equipped with Compass Card readers at that entrance, we are also suspending fare collection on the bus system." #Covid19 @NEWS1130 https://t.co/CcgRIDurJT
— Marcella Bernardo (@Bernardo1130) March 19, 2020
Regular fares will still apply to other TransLink modes, such as SkyTrain, West Coast Express and SeaBus.
TransLink is also increasing cleaning and disinfecting on all modes of transit.
TransLink is accelerating the installation of operator protection barriers on buses, as well, and launching an education campaign promoting hygiene and asking customers to allow extra space for fellow passengers and transit staff.
As social distancing measures are being put into place across the region, TransLink has also seen a significant decline in ridership in the past week.
System-wide TransLink boarding figures were down 52 per cent on Tuesday (684,000 total) compared to the same day a year ago. Boardings for the entire system were also down 38 per cent on Monday (843,000) compared to the same day in 2019.
Total boardings last Thursday, March 12, were 1,312,000, a seven per cent drop from a year ago.