VIA extends suspension of 'Canadian,' 'Ocean' to November

News Wire Digest for May 7: Calgary to lay off 450 transit workers, slash service; MTA sees surge in bus use during subway shutdown
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VIA Rail Canada is extending the suspension of the Canadian until November 2020.
Bob Johnston

Thursday morning rail news:

— VIA Rail Canada has written off the summer travel season for its long-distance overnight trains, the Canadian and the Ocean, extending their suspension until at least Nov. 1, 2020, and has suspended Sleeper class on its Winnipeg-Churchill, Man., train until the same date. Anyone holding reservations will be contacted and reimbursed automatically, or may contact VIA via the email or phone numbers listed in this press release. VIA is using the suspension of service to accelerate an inspection and modernization program for its heritage passenger equipment, and has found structural issues that need to be addressed. “"This was not an easy decision to make but, given the current circumstances, the health and safety of our passengers, crew members and local communities must come first, “ VIA President and CEO Cynthia Garneau said in the press release. “… . We will use this extended pause to assess and identify which measures to implement in order to get back on track as soon and as safely as possible.”

— Calgary Transit will lay off almost 450 employees and cut 17,000 hours of service per week in response to decreased ridership because of the COVID-19 pandemic. CTV Calgary reports that Amalgamated Transit Union Local 583 President Mike Mahar informed workers that the cuts would be coming, with notifications to begin today. Ridership on CTrain light rail is down as much as 90%, while bus ridership is down 80%.

— The Metropolitan Transportation Authority says Wednesday's first night of its New York subway closure saw a 76% increase in bus ridership during the 1-5 a.m. period the subways were shut down, with social distancing maintained thanks to a 150% increase in the operational bus fleet during those hours. Approximately 14,500 people used buses during the subway shutdown, up from 8,300 on a recent average weekday. “Thousands of people worked together to make this go as smoothly as possible,” Sarah Feinberg, interim President of MTA New York City Transit, said in a press release. “I'm grateful to the New York City Transit workforce, to all of our cleaners, to all of the folks who work in our stations, to the NYPD, to the MTA Police, and to all of the social workers, outreach workers and nurses who came out to ensure the first temporary nighttime closure of the subway and expansion of bus service went off well.”


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