Eastbound West Coast Express. (THE NEWS – files)

Further TransLink reductions for riders in Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows

West Coast Express reduced further and R3 RapidBus suspended

TransLink will be reducing West Coast Express service further due to the COVID-19 crisis and lack of ridership.

Starting April 22, trains one, three and five will continue to run in each direction, but with fewer cars.

Train one departs Mission City at 5:25 a.m. and departs Waterfront Station at 3:50 p.m., train three departs Mission City at 6:25 a.m. and Waterfront Station at 4:50 p.m. and train five departs Mission City at 7:25 a.m. and Waterfront Station at 6:20 p.m.

Two trains have already been temporarily suspended in each direction.

Trains departing Mission at 5:55 a.m. and 6:55 a.m. along with those departing Waterfront Station at 4:20 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. are no longer be in operation.

The decision was made to cancel the trains because ridership of the West Coast Express is down by 90 per cent, said TransLink spokesperson Ben Murphy.

READ MORE: TransLink to reduce service on some bus routes, SeaBus, West Coast Express

“We do recognize that West Coast Express does play an important role in getting essential service workers to work so, at this stage, services will continue.”

“But obviously in terms of COVID-19 it’s a day by day proposition,” he noted after the suspension of the second train.

As of April 24, 18 bus routes will also be suspended, including the R3 Lougheed Highway RapidBus. TransLink is asking riders to take the 701 bus instead.

These reductions are part of a series of cost-saving measures to preserve Metro Vancouver’s transit system, along with a commitment from the Province to ensure near-regular service can be restored by September.

In a statement TransLink said it is losing $75 million per month with ridership down by 83% across the board, as the company continues to provide transit services for essential workers.

“This rate of financial loss is not sustainable,” read the statement.

SeaBus will also see reductions. The last sailing will depart Lonsdale Quay at 7:30 p.m. and depart from Waterfront Station at 7:45 p.m., although sailings will continue every 30 minutes during the day.

SkyTrain service is also being reduced.

READ MORE:West Coast Express cancel two trains – morning train from Mission; afternoon train from Vancouver

The Expo Line capacity will be reduced by 20 per cent during peak hours and during the midday, early evenings and weekends the capacity will be reduced up to 40 per cent.

The Millennium Line capacity will be further reduced by 15 per cent during peak hours and an additional 20 to 40 per cent during mid days, early evenings and weekends.

This is in addition to a 17 per cent reduction during peak hours and a 20 per cent reduction on Friday and Saturday evenings that took place last month for both lines.

The Canada Line capacity has been reduced by 18 per cent during peak hours.

TransLink will also be suspending three seasonal improvements and have announced that in mid-May an additional 47 routes will be suspended with reduced frequency on remaining routes.

Temporary layoff notices have been sent to 1,492 employees in various positions at TransLink, Coast Mountain Bus Company and British Columbia Rapid Transit Company.

Senior executive salaries and board remuneration has been reduced by 10 per cent.

And TransLink has deferred the 2020 Major Road Network operations, maintenance and rehabilitation program funding to municipalities and also this years service expansions.

Cash reserves are being used to sustain current essential service operations to the end of 2020.

“This has been an incredibly tough decision and one we do not take lightly,” said TransLink CEO Kevin Desmond in a press release.

“We’ve done our best to try and reduce costs through other means, but TransLink is losing $75 million per month, and we’re left with no other options,” he said.

Desmond expects employees affected by layoffs will be recalled once TransLink returns to regular operations, adding that they are now planning for back-to-school in September.


 

cflanagan@mapleridgenews.com

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