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Free transit on B.C. Day wildly popular

Long lines of passengers waited to take the SeaBus Monday as TransLink offered free transit across the Metro Vancouver system.  - Twitter.com/EhteshamAzad
Long lines of passengers waited to take the SeaBus Monday as TransLink offered free transit across the Metro Vancouver system.
— image credit: Twitter.com/EhteshamAzad

TransLink's day of free transit in apology for recent service disruptions drew heavy crowds on B.C. Day.

"We experienced heavy volume on most routes," spokesman Robert Willis said.

Besides crowded buses and SkyTrains, passengers in some cases had to wait two or more sailings to board the SeaBus.

That was despite the deployment of TransLink's third SeaBus reducing frequency to every 7.5 minutes – a level of service the transportation authority says it can't normally afford until new taxes for a major expansion are approved.

Willis said TransLink anticipated the extra demand and had 46 SkyTrain cars in service, compared to 32 on a normal Sunday or holiday.

The three SeaBuses carried 48,300 passengers – more than two and a half times as many as the 18,000 on B.C. Day last year.

Bus ridership was up an estimated 40 per cent and the Canada Line carried 45,000 more passengers than it would on a typical stat holiday, an increase of 66 per cent.

"Transit supervisors monitored the volumes and continued to deploy more buses as required to get our customers where they needed to go," he said.

"We also chose to postpone the regularly scheduled maintenance work on the SkyTrain in order to accommodate the volume last night. We again thank our customers for their patience as we managed the large crowds."

The free day was in compensation for two major SkyTrain shutdowns that disrupted service for more than four hours and saw some passengers exit via elevated guideways. An independent review is underway into the July incidents.

TransLink had previously been criticized for not offering the free day during a regular work day when many more commuters could have made use of it.

There were complaints about long lines and crowded buses Monday, but there were also many appreciative thank-yous to TransLink on social media. (See reactions via Twitter below.)

 

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