TransLink cancels free New Year's Eve transit services because of COVID-19 restrictions

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      For the first time in 45 years, the free New Year's Eve bus, SkyTrain, and SeaBus service will not be offered.

      TransLink announced in a December 16 release that the traditional freebie, offered to encourage New Year's Eve partiers to leave vehicles at home, will not happen this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

      "With restrictions on social gatherings and events," the release said, "TransLink believes it would be inconsistent with provincial public health orders to offer free transit for this traditional evening of celebration."

      TransLink CEO Kevin Desmand noted in the release: "“We want to encourage everyone to celebrate safely this holiday season and follow the orders put in place by the Provincial Health Officer. We all have a responsibility this year to keep our communities safe and we look forward to resuming free transit on New Year’s Eve in 2021.”

      The Metro Vancouver transportation authority will also not be running the extended New Year's Eve hours that it traditionally offered—until 5 a.m. last year—but will operate its usual weekday schedules.

      It also reminded potential riders of its pandemic precautions: "TransLink continues to ensure the health and safety of customers remains a top priority by making masks mandatory, increasing cleaning and sanitizing, limiting capacity on buses, and expanding the availability of hand sanitizer."