Team News

Transit Update

Below is an update from Translink on their Safe Operating Action Plan (SOAP? 😊)

There are a few key points in the update:

  • Service is being restored to pre-pandemic levels
  • Travel outside the biggest rush hour times
  • Cleaning has been enhanced
  • Wear a mask if you are able

Transit is an essential service for many people to get to work.  Grace and Sterling both took transit this morning and said many people are wearing masks, and if you can travel after 9am it is much less crowded than traveling at 8am.

 An Open Letter to Our Customers

Last week marked a new chapter in British Columbia’s response to COVID-19.

As we turn the page, TransLink is stepping up to support Phase 2 of British Columbia’s Restart Plan.

Throughout the pandemic, thousands of essential workers have relied on our services every day. Over the coming weeks and months, we expect that many of our customers will be returning to the transit system as they go back to work, to school, and to get to the people and places that matter to them.

That’s why we are announcing new and enhanced measures to improve safety and meet the needs of you, our customers.

In the weeks ahead, you will start to notice changes at transit stations and on vehicles designed to improve sanitization, create physical space where possible, and enhance your safety.

These initiatives, many of which have been taken since the beginning of the pandemic, are now part of the Safe Operating Action Plan. This plan will be implemented in phases to meet the needs of our customers as B.C.’s economy restarts.

One of the key things you will see is an increase in our cleaning and sanitization efforts. We have already implemented regular spray disinfection on our vehicles as well as daily cleaning on SkyTrain. Now, we will deploy cleaning “pit crews” to disinfect SkyTrain cars at high-traffic stations and we are doubling the spray disinfection of buses and SeaBuses to twice a week.

To help reduce the number of people on any given SkyTrain, we are going to limit the flow through fare gates at busy SkyTrain stations. This might mean you can’t make the train just entering a station, but please remember that the next train is only minutes away.

We will also be adding service to create more opportunities for space. This includes restoring service to nearly the same levels as before the COVID-19 pandemic on many routes. And please take transit off-peak if you can.

Safety on transit will take all of us working together.

To help keep yourself and your fellow passengers safe, please wear a non-medical mask or face covering while waiting or travelling on transit. And please stay home if you are sick.

It’s no secret that, like everyone else, the past few months have been a challenge for our organization. We have had to adapt to rapidly changing circumstances due to the pandemic.

As our customers gradually return to their daily routines over the coming weeks and months, we want you to know that we are here for you and are ready to welcome you back.

At TransLink, we have adopted a saying: Together all the way. It means that we are here to help our customers reach their destinations and get home again – safely, reliably and affordably. Today, it also means we are working together – all of us – to get us all the way through this pandemic period and ensure our transit service is here for you as we restart the economy and bring some normalcy back to our lives.

Thank you again for your trust and support.

Kevin Desmond
CEO, TransLink

Transportation considerations

As people start to plan for resuming some of their community activities, the question of transportation has been coming up.  Supporting people to safely get from home to their destination will require some thoughtful planning.  How were people getting around before Covid-19?  Are those options still available, and if so what additional safety measures need to be considered?

Walking is one of the safest and most convenient ways to get around, plus it’s great exercise!  As much as possible, we encourage people to use amenities in their local community that are within walking distance of their home.

Transit is also a good option with some pre-planning.  Translink’s Safe Operating Action Plan has information on safety measures that are in place on buses, skytrain and the seabus, including transit etiquette and physical distancing.  Note that Translink is requesting all passengers to wear a face mask, if possible, while using transit.  Also posted on the website is a list of peak travelling times, so you can plan ahead to avoid the crowds.

Driving in personal vehicles, Spectrum vehicles, or car-share vehicles should still be kept to a minimum.  Unless you’re driving a passenger van, most vehicles will not provide a 2 metre distance between the driver and passengers.  We encourage people to use vehicles as a last resort, and only for essential activities like driving to a doctor’s appointment, or if peak transit times cannot be avoided.  If you do need to drive someone in a vehicle, consider the following strategies for minimizing the risks:

  • Check to make sure everyone is healthy and not showing symptoms of illness before heading out
  • Disinfect touch points before and after vehicle use (door handles, seatbelts, steering wheel)
  • Limit the number of people to a driver and one passenger if possible
  • Passenger sits as far from the driver as possible (back seat, far side)
  • Driver and passenger wear face masks, if they are able to.
  • Open the windows to increase air flow
  • Limit contact between driver and passenger getting in and out of the vehicle
  • Spend only as much time in the vehicle as is necessary to get to and from your destination

As we get more information from CLBC, we will share it with you and will be developing a recovery plan that must be reviewed by CLBC.  This recovery plan will provide information on planning to keep people and their teams safe, while beginning to resume community activities that are important to their physical and emotional health.

Below is an update from CLBC for Individuals and Families with a good selection of resources.

Plain Language and Sign Language Information on COVID-19

CLBC has a great page of resources in plain language and some videos with sign language translation of information on COVID-19.

https://www.communitylivingbc.ca/resources/information-about-the-novel-coronavirus-covid-19/plain-language-resources/

Sign Language information about B.C.’s Restart Plan

The Wavefront Centre for Communication Accessibility is a B.C.-based organization that helps reduce communications barriers for people who are deaf and hard of hearing. During the COVID-19 pandemic, Wavefront has been creating American Sign Language (ASL) videos of B.C. government announcements, and sharing them on their Youtube page here. This includes ASL versions of the different parts of BC’s Restart Plan, which you can find by clicking the links below:

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We know Canadians living with disabilities are facing significant challenges during this difficult time, with some experiencing job insecurity and others seeing increased costs for personal support workers, medication, and medical supplies. As we work together to restart the economy, we must continue to protect health and safety, and ensure the right supports are in place for all Canadians.

The Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, today announced support to help Canadians with disabilities deal with extra expenses during the pandemic.

This support includes a special one-time, tax-free payment to individuals who are certificate holders of the Disability Tax Credit as of June 1, 2020, as follows:

  • $600 for Canadians with a valid Disability Tax Credit certificate.
  • $300 for Canadians with a valid Disability Tax Credit certificate and who are eligible for the Old Age Security (OAS) pension.
  • $100 for Canadians with a valid Disability Tax Credit certificate and who are eligible for the OAS pension and the Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS).

Combined with the special payments of $300 for Canadians who are eligible for the OAS pension and the additional $200 for those eligible for the GIS, all seniors with a valid Disability Tax Credit certificate will receive a total of $600 in special payments. People who are eligible for this special payment will receive it automatically.

The Government of Canada recognizes that people with disabilities are also at higher risk of job loss during economic downturns. To help Canadians with disabilities get and maintain good jobs so they can continue to support themselves and their families, the government will:

  • Create a National Workplace Accessibility Stream through the Opportunities Fund for Persons with Disabilities. A new investment of $15 million in 2020-21 will provide community organizations with resources to improve workplace accessibility and access to jobs in response to COVID-19, including by helping employers set up accessible and effective work-from-home arrangements. This support will also cover expanding accessible online training opportunities and helping connect Canadians with disabilities working from home with employers.
  • Invest $1.18 million in five new projects across the country through the Accessible Technology Program. With this funding, organizations will develop dynamic and affordable technology, such as accessible payment terminals for retailers and tools to make communication easier for Canadians with disabilities in the digital economy.

As we mark National AccessAbility Week, we reaffirm our commitment to continue listening to and working in partnership with persons with disabilities to maintain their health, safety, and dignity as we address the wide-ranging impacts of COVID-19.

Quotes

“To make it through this difficult time, we need to look out for one another. Canadians with disabilities are facing significant challenges because of COVID-19, as they work to access essential services and care, and provide for their families. With today’s announcement, we are stepping up to make sure they have the support they need to make it through this crisis.”

The Rt. Hon. Justin Trudeau, Prime Minister of Canada

“We know this pandemic has deeply affected the lives and health of all Canadians, and disproportionately affected Canadians with disabilities in particular. The cost to safely get groceries, medication, and other basic necessities has increased, while services like disability support workers and therapy may be unavailable because volunteer and subsidized services have declined. We have listened to the concerns of Canadians with disabilities and received advice from the COVID-19 Disability Advisory Group on how to best provide support during this difficult time. I am confident that the measures announced today will greatly benefit Canadians with disabilities across the country.”

The Hon. Carla Qualtrough, Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Disability Inclusion  

“Working together empowers our companies, our economy, our people. We know now, more than ever, how important it is to be able to access the digital world. Through the Accessible Technology Program, we continue to open doors to endless possibilities, so that Canadians with disabilities can fully benefit from being connected. Thanks to our innovative entrepreneurs, we continue to increase accessibility and awareness of this importance.”

The Hon. Navdeep Bains, Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development

Quick Facts

  • The funding included in today’s announcement will benefit approximately 1.25 million Canadians with disabilities who are facing additional expenses due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • According to the 2017 Canadian Survey on Disability, 22 per cent of Canadians 15 years of age and over identify as having a disability. That rate increases as people age, with 37.8 per cent of Canadians over 65 and 47.4 per cent of Canadians over 75 identifying as having a disability.
  • Among working-age Canadians with disabilities, more than 1.5 million, or 41 per cent, are unemployed or out of the labour market entirely. Among those with severe disabilities, this rate increases to over 60 per cent.
  • The Government of Canada is working to support people with disabilities in-line with the principles and objectives of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and the Accessible Canada Act, which came into force in July 2019.

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