Metro Vancouver’s transportation authority is laying off nearly 1,500 employees as it grapples with an 83 per cent drop in ridership due to COVID-19.
TransLink announced Monday it would temporarily lay off 1,492 people from both the company itself and the Coast Mountain Bus Company and British Columbia Rapid Transit Company. TransLink will also cut senior executive salaries and board remuneration by 10 per cent. The layoffs represent about 18 per cent of the three companies’ work forces, a TransLink spokesperson confirmed.
The moves come as the company said it’s losing $75 million per month as a result of the pandemic.
TransLink is cutting back on all its services, as well as deferring all planned 2020 service expansions and using its cash reserves to sustain current essential service operations till the end of 2020.
The transportation authority said it is working with the province to make sure TransLink can reverse layoffs and return to “near-regular operations” by the time school is scheduled to resume in September.
“This has been an incredibly tough decision and one we do not take lightly,” said CEO Kevin Desmond. “I fully expect those affected will be recalled once TransLink returns to regular operations, which we are now planning for back-to-school in September, if consistent with provincial guidelines.”
Routes cuts, by service:
Starting on Wednesday, Expo Line capacity will be reduced by 20 per cent during peak hours, and capacity will be cut by 20 to 40 per cent the rest of the time.
Millennium Line capacity will be cut by 15 per cent during peak hours and 20 to 40 per cent the rest of the time.
This is on top of a 17 per cent reduction during peak hours and a 20 per cent reduction on Friday and Saturday evenings, which were brought in last month.
Canada Line capacity has already been reduced by 18 per cent.
TransLink is suspending 18 bus routes: 15, 32, 50, 68, 105, 131, 132, 143, 222, 480, 414, R3; most of these have other transit alternatives, the company said. The NightBus routes being suspended are the N8, N15, N17, N22, N24, N35.
Another 47 bus routes are expected to be suspended in early May, and frequency is to be reduced on many remaining routes. Expected route suspensions: 251, 252, 262, 280, 281, 282, 370, 563, 564, 044, 170, 181, 182, 231, 241, 247, 258, 345, 352, 354, 391, 393, 394, 395, 416, 509, 602, 603, 604, 606, 608, 614, 616, 617, 618, 619, 719, 722, 733, 741, 744, 748, 749, 791, 042, 150, 179.
TransLink said routes to hospitals and other healthcare facilities will be prioritized.
Physical distancing measures have already reduced the number of people who can fit on TransLink buses to 30 per cent of normal levels. Once the service cuts are brought in, that will drop to 20 per cent.
West Coast Express
Beginning Wednesday, trains one, three and five will continue to operate of existing schedules but with fewer cars. Trains two and four will remain suspended.
Starting Wednesday, SeaBus will end service earlier. The last sailing of the day will leave Lonsdale Quay at 7:30 p.m. and Waterfront at 7:45 a.m. Throughout the day, sailings will continue every 30 minutes.