TransLink to limit seating on buses to curb spread of coronavirus

B.C. employers taking action to protect workers in essential services
Grace Ke looks at some of the measures being taken to protect people who work in essential services.

TransLink is moving to limit seating on buses in Metro Vancouver to enforce physical distancing rules during the novel coronavirus pandemic.

The transit and transportation agency says the new rules will come into effect next week.

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry has banned gatherings of more than 50 people and ordered people to maintain a physical distance of two metres (six feet) in public.

READ MORE: Coronavirus: TransLink halts fare collection on buses, asks riders to use rear doors

“Roughly half the seats on board buses will have signage installed to indicate that those seats are to be left vacant, which will allow for extra space between customers,” said TransLink in a media release.

TransLink suspends bus fare collection
TransLink suspends bus fare collection

“If the new seated capacity is reached, bus operators will not make any further stops to collect passengers, who will have to wait for the next bus.”

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READ MORE: B.C.’s top doctor hints at changes to public transit to promote social distancing

TransLink has already slashed service levels amid massively declining ridership as Metro Vancouverites stay home to practise social distancing.

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The agency says it expects travel times will be affected on many routes, given the new seating restrictions and reduced schedule.

Commuters are being asked to build extra time into their trips in anticipation of the change, particularly during rush hour.

TransLink makes major changes to Metro Vancouver bus operations due to coronavirus pandemic
TransLink makes major changes to Metro Vancouver bus operations due to coronavirus pandemic

TransLink has already implemented several measures to deal with the virus.

READ MORE: How TransLink is stepping up cleaning to prevent COVID-19 transmission

Buses are no longer accepting payment, and passengers are being asked to board by the rear doors.

TransLink has already restricted seating near drivers, and is speeding up its installation of protective barriers for transit operators.

The agency says it has also boosted cleaning on buses, SeaBuses and SkyTrain.