SkyTrain commuters worried about physical distancing as B.C. reopens

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WATCH: TransLink will be increasing service levels on public transit as the province enters Phase 2 of reopening and while it will mean more space on SkyTrain and buses, some commuters are concerned about social distancing. Grace Ke reports.

With the launch of Phase 2 to reopen the B.C. economy on Tuesday morning, TransLink says SkyTrain service is at about 90 per cent and should be back at full service levels next week.

However, ridership is still way down, meaning there have been no issues with crowding or physical distancing, according to spokesperson Jill Drews.

While masks are not mandatory on the system, Drews is recommending commuters wear them if trains get busy and to try to travel outside peak times.

Unlike on buses, some SkyTrain seats aren’t blocked off to encourage physical distancing because there’s no way to enforce it.

“People would come in uninhibited and stand in the aisles instead of in the seats and it would be the same amount of people and the same issue,” Drews said.

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READ MORE: Coronavirus: Which B.C. services can start to reopen on Tuesday, May 19?

Others are worried about a lack of physical distancing on the system as businesses start to reopen and more people begin leaving their homes.

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“What I see is a lot of crowding on sidewalks where we have bus stops alongside queuing areas,” said Mike Soron with Abundant Transit BC.

“Where sidewalks are already crowded and on vehicles themselves, even with social distancing, we are hearing people are feeling crowded and uncomfortable on our vehicles and on SkyTrain.”

He said he’d like to see masks worn and hand sanitizing stations at all SkyTrain stops.

Meanwhile, the president of CUPE 7000, which represents rapid transit and rail workers, suggests SkyTrain users simply wait for the next train if service is too busy.

“People are being responsible out there, but our members aren’t there to police that at all,” Tony Rebelo said.

Once the system is at full capacity next week, he added, he hopes physical distancing will improve.

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