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 two morning and two afternoon commuter trains due to a dramatic decline in ridership.

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. 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 schedules of trains one, three and five in both directions – 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.

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.

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.

TransLink has also limited 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 have had 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 said, 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 has undertaken 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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