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TransLink ups bus capacity to two-thirds, begins collecting fares Monday

Click to play video: 'Bus capacity increases but Metro Vancouver transit ridership still down' Bus capacity increases but Metro Vancouver transit ridership still down
As passenger capacity on buses increases during Phase 2, physical distancing is now even more challenging although as Catherine Urquhart reports, ridership is still down – Jun 1, 2020

Commuters on TransLink buses will find themselves riding in closer proximity to other passengers, starting Monday as coronavirus lockdowns lift further.

The transit agency says as of June 1, buses will accept passengers up to two-thirds of their total capacity.

That’s up from the drastically reduced capacity TransLink implemented in late March, in order to accommodate physical distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic.

For the past two months, buses have operated with half of their seating blocked off.

TransLink spokesperson Ben Murphy acknowledged that riders won’t always be able to stay two metres apart from each other under higher-capacity.

READ MORE: Limited fare gate access, masks recommended in new TransLink coronavirus initiatives

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But he said the move was necessary, given ridership has increased more than 30 per cent in the last month.

“Distancing is not always going to be possible,” said Murphy.

“It’s in those instances where we are recommending people wear a mask or a face covering.”

Click to play video: 'TransLink executives say COVID-19 pandemic could delay Langley SkyTrain extension' TransLink executives say COVID-19 pandemic could delay Langley SkyTrain extension
TransLink executives say COVID-19 pandemic could delay Langley SkyTrain extension – May 28, 2020

Bus passengers will also be expected to start paying fares again Monday, as well as boarding from the front door.

The resumption of front-door boarding comes after TransLink completed installation of protective barriers for drivers across its fleet.

“We’ve been installing those barriers over the last several weeks, and now that they are in place we can resume front door boarding and we can resume fare collection as well,” said Murphy.

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READ MORE: Coronavirus: TransLink warns of further cuts if no government financial help received

TransLink has implemented several other safety measures and recommendations in its response to Phase 2 of B.C.’s pandemic reboot plan.

Buses and SeaBuses are now getting twice-weekly disinfectant sprays, along with daily cleaning.

The agency is also reducing fare-gate access at SkyTrain stations to try and limit the number of passengers on a train platform at once.

Click to play video: 'Additional cleaning and physical distancing measures coming to Metro Vancouver transit' Additional cleaning and physical distancing measures coming to Metro Vancouver transit
Additional cleaning and physical distancing measures coming to Metro Vancouver transit – May 21, 2020

Markings have also been applied to the floor in order to help people maintain physical distancing.

TransLink has taken a major financial hit during the pandemic.

In April, it projected a shortfall of between $570 million to $680 million this year due to plunging ridership.

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TransLink had initially planned to lay off 1,500 workers, but rescinded the layoffs after striking a deal with the province earlier this month.

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