TransLink has unveiled a new limited edition Compass Card bearing the trademark six-word phrase of Dr. Bonnie Henry on how British Columbians can keep themselves safe during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The new vertical card design, coloured in royal blue, bears the words “Be Kind, Be Calm, Be Safe” and attributes the provincial health officer.
Like a number of other public transit systems around the world, TransLink occasionally releases special edition transit fare smart cards. To date, this includes special cards for Remembrance Day, the opening of the Millennium Line Evergreen Extension in 2016, and Canada’s 150th anniversary in 2017.
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This is part of TransLink’s new campaign to help boost transit ridership, while also reminding passengers of the safety and reliability of the public transit network.
“I applaud the safety measures and layers of protection put in place by TransLink, especially as more people return to work and school,” said Henry in a statement. “By wearing a mask on transit, you are looking out for each other and demonstrating to those around you that you care about their health too.”
Following a steady climb after BC’s restart, ridership growth has stagnated over the past month and a half, with ridership now sitting at around 43% of normal levels — up from around 40% in late July.
“We want to continue to build ridership over coming months… TransLink’s Safe Operating Action Plan includes several enhanced safety initiatives to ensure customers know that transit is a safe and reliable alternative to driving as British Columbia’s economy continues to reopen,” said TransLink CEO Kevin Desmond.
While the rebound of public transit ridership has slowed, regional road traffic volumes appear to have returned to near normal, with the public transit authority’s data early this month showing the Golden Ears, Knight Street, and Pattullo bridges are now experiencing around 93% of their pre-pandemic volumes.
For its new campaign rollout over the coming weeks, TransLink states it will install new signage at stations and on vehicles to remind passengers of improved sanitization and cleaning procedures currently put in place to enhance their health safety. As well, there will be an online push, and partnerships with local small businesses, webinars, and other engagement opportunities.
Health safety measures on the public transit system so far include mandatory masks, increased cleaning and sanitization, the deployment of pit crews to disinfect SkyTrain cars at high traffic stations, increasing bus and SeaBus disinfecting sprays to twice per week in addition to daily cleaning, and the daily cleaning and disinfecting of SkyTrain and West Coast Express cars.
Other measures entail limiting fare gate access at busy stations, limiting the capacity on buses to about 66% full, installing two-metre spaced physical distancing decals at some bus stops and station entrances, installing hand sanitizer dispensers at select SkyTrain stations and transit exchanges as well as the entire RapidBus fleet, and monitoring passenger loads in order to deploy additional service at times and on routes where physical distancing is more difficult.
Within the first week of the new mandatory mask policy in late August, TransLink reported a compliance rate of 92%, based on a count of 31,000 during spot checks.
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