Passengers aboard a RapidBus at the Haney Bus Loop in Maple Ridge. (Colleen Flanagan-THE NEWS)

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

Ridership down by 90 per cent

TransLink has cancelled one morning and one afternoon commuter train due to a dramatic decline in ridership.

Starting Thursday, the train departing Mission at 5:55 a.m. along with the one departing Waterfront Station at 4:20 p.m. will no longer be in operation.

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

READ MORE: TransLink suspends HandyDART fare payments in all communities including Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows

However, TransLink will be maintaining the first and last train schedule – for now, said Murphy.

“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.

It’s far too early at this stage, continued Murphy, to tell if service will go down to one train a day.

“For now services will continue until any further decision,” he said.

Starting next week TransLink will also be limiting seating on buses in communities across Metro Vancouver to promote physical distancing.

READ MORE: COVID-19: Here’s what is considered an essential service in B.C.

Something that is not an issue on the West Coast Express.

Approximately half the seats on board buses will have signage installed to indicate that they are to be left vacant.

And, if the new seating capacity is reached, then bus operators will not be making any further stops to collect passengers, said a TransLink press release on Thursday, March 26.

TransLink does not anticipate that these seating changes will have an impact on travel times, but, the release says, that commuters who use busier routes should, ” consider building in additional travel time and consider their need to travel, particularly during rush hours.”

Other initiatives TransLink is undertaking to promote physical distancing include: getting passengers to boar the bus using the rear doors when possible; asking customers to allow extra space for fellow passengers; the installation of operator protection barriers on all buses with the Coast Mountain bus Company, the suspension of fare payment on HandyDART and limiting the seating close to bus drivers and crew on SeaBus vessels.

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