After about two months of depressed service levels, the arterial backbone of Metro Vancouver’s public transit network is ramping back up to normal levels.
TransLink spokesperson Jill Drews says as of today, two of the SkyTrain lines — Expo and Millennium — are now at 90% of their normal service levels. By next week, both of these SkyTrain lines will be at 100% normal levels.
SkyTrain Canada Line’s capacity will reach 90% next week, just short of normal, due to almost non-existent demand at Vancouver International Airport.
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After a month of ending service hours before 8 pm daily, SeaBus has returned to operating during its normal hours, ending at late night.
Between Monday and Saturday, the last sailings will leave Lonsdale Quay at 1 am and Waterfront Station at 1:22 am. Operations on Sunday and holidays will now see the last sailing depart at 11:02 pm from Lonsdale Quay and 11:16 pm from Waterfront Station.
Additionally, nearly all of the bus service suspensions that occurred on April 24 have been reversed. The following routes that were affected by that round of cancellations due to low ridership have been reinstated:
- 15 Cambie/Olympic Village Station
- 50 Waterfront Station/False Creek South/Granville Island
- 68 UBC Exchange/Wesbrook Village
- 105 Uptown/New Westminster Station
- 131 Hastings/Kootenay Loop
- 132 Capitol Hill/Hastings
- 222 Willingdon Express
- 414 Richmond Oval/Bridgehouse Station
- R3 Lougheed Highway RapidBus
- N8 Downtown/Fraser (night)
- N15 Downtown/Cambie (night)
- N17 Downtown/UBC (night)
- N22 Downtown/Macdonald (night)
- N24 Downtown/Lynn Valley (night)
- N35 SFU (night)
Some of the bus routes that continue to be suspended serve the university campuses, which currently see little traffic.
However, as of May 16, TransLink has added the new seasonal routes of No. 42 Alma/Spanish Banks, No. 150 White Pine Beach/Coquitlam Central Station, and No. 179 Coquitlam Central Station/Buntzen Lake.
Bowen Island and West Vancouver routes already reinstated include No. 251 Queens/Park Royal, No. 252 Inglewood/Park Royal, No. 262 Lions Bay/Caulfeild, No. 280 Bluewater/Snug Cove, No. 281 Eagle Cliff/Snug Cove, and No. 282 Mt Gardner/Snug Cove.
Fare collection and front-door boarding on buses resumes on June 1, after the installation of temporary vinyl dividers on buses reaches completion to help protect drivers.
TransLink had intended to temporarily cancel 41 bus routes and reduce frequencies for all remaining bus services on May 18. Layoffs of 1,500 employees, mostly bus drivers, had also been planned to begin in the middle of this month.
But these further bus service reductions and layoffs were rescinded on May 8, when it was announced that the provincial government had come forward with emergency financial support to ensure the public transit system continues to operate alongside BC’s plans to restart the economy starting on May 15.
With more businesses and attractions expected to reopen under the guided restart plan, there have been calls for the provincial government to restore public transit services to help support the economy’s revival.
Drews says no details on the arrangement with the provincial government are available at this time, as both parties are still working on an exact funding figure.
Due to the plummet in transportation demand, TransLink’s revenues from fares and fuel and parking taxes have also seen corresponding drops. It relies on these sources for over 60% of its revenue.
TransLink has been experiencing a revenue shortfall of $75 million per month against its 2020 budget.
It anticipates revenue shortfalls of between $570 million and $680 million in 2020, and between $120 million and $885 million in 2021. The full fiscal impact over up to four years could range between $710 million and $3.25 billion.
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Editor’s note: This article has been updated to reflect that the Canada Line service level changes will be different from the changes to the Expo and Millennium lines. As well, the list of bus routes being reinstated has also been updated.