VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – A driver with Coast Mountain Bus Company has made a rare public plea during this COVID-19 pandemic — don’t get on the bus.
Despite TransLink reporting a huge drop in ridership, the driver says physical distancing is still a challenge on transit.
The man does not give his name, but his face was clearly visible in the YouTube video, which was posted over the weekend but has since been taken down.
“You guys need to make me a promise,” he said in the nine-minute rant. “Don’t get on the bus. Just don’t get on the bus. You don’t need to be out, don’t get on the bus, it’s that simple.”
He told viewers he’s been hesitant to post something, but adds he’s reached a breaking point.
“I’m working really long hours and I have been — I’m pretty exhausted, to be honest with you,” the driver said in the video. “And as a bus driver, I’m scared ****less.”
At least three CMBC employees have contracted COVID-19 so far, and the company has enacted several preventative measures like rear-boarding and seat closures.
While the driver said CMBC is doing the right things, he argued when dealing with a 40 foot vehicle, it’s basically impossible to stay six feet away from others with more than five passengers at a time in such a confined space.
And while people are maintaining safe distances while lining up for the bus, all that goes out the window when everyone gets on.
“I just picked up a load of people at Marine Station in Vancouver, and the crazy thing is they lined up. They lined up with in social distance, or physical distance, they were six feet apart, and when they got on the bus, I don’t know what happened to their brains but they just sat down wherever they want.”
At one point in the footage, viewed by NEWS 1130, the driver turns the camera around to show the empty vehicle and all the measures in place to try and get people to sit apart, including signs asking people to support physical distancing measures. However, he claimed people have been ignoring signs and bags placed over seats.
“I know for a fact that someone has moved that, I’m sure of it, because that’s not how they were taped on there by the people in the yard,” he said of one sign.
“If you sneeze back here, it’s going to get on you,” he added in the video, standing at the back of the bus while pointing out just how close the seats are to each other — even with signage in place to separate people.
He implored people to stay home, adding he’s spoken to some transit users who have sat too close to others.
“I come to work every day and I’m worried that I’m going to get this s*** and I’m going to bring it home to my family,” he said, getting visibly emotional.
UNIFOR, which represents bus drivers in the Lower Mainland has told NEWS 1130 that vehicles are being cleaned nightly and hand wash has been made available. However, another driver has expressed concerns that operator stations are not being sanitized between day shifts.
Earlier this month, TransLink reported its bus ridership had dropped by 82 per cent. It is now facing losses of $75 million a month, and Jonathan Cote, chair of the Mayors’ Council on Regional Transportation, says without assistance from the federal and provincial governments, unprecedented service cuts could occur within weeks.
Editor’s Note: The video has since been removed from YouTube. This article has been updated to reflect that.