VANCOUVER -- Metro Vancouver transit users will see some key changes soon as TransLink will implement new health and safety measures in the coming weeks.

TransLink saw an 83 per cent decrease in ridership in recent weeks because of the novel coronavirus pandemic, but is now expecting an increase in transit trips as B.C.'s economy slowly reopens.

In preparation, TransLink shared Thursday some of the new safety initiatives it's taking, with many of them expected to be in place by June 1. 

To start, sanitizing measures will be increased on all modes of transit, TransLink spokesperson Ben Murphy said. Cleaning "pit crews" will disinfect SkyTrain cars at high-traffic stations, while bus and SeaBus disinfecting sprays will be doubled to twice a week. 

Physical distance will also be expected where possible and fare gate access will be limited at busy stations. There will also be two-metre spaced decals installed at some bus stops.

Service will be increased across all transit modes to allow for more capacity, including on routes where service had been reduced. For example, service is expected to be fully reinstated on SkyTrain by May 25.

Murphy warned that physical distancing might not always be feasible, however.

"This has been a real challenge for transit, because transit is not typically designed for physical distancing," Murphy said. "We've been looking at ways we can promote physical distancing on SkyTrain, in particular."

Murphy said the use of face masks will promoted to all transit users. 

"We are recommending customers wear face coverings while on transit and while waiting for transit," Murphy said. 

 Canada's chief public health officer, Dr. Theresa Tam, said Wednesday that face masks are now recommended if maintaining a two-metre physical distance isn't possible. 

As of Tuesday, TransLink said SkyTrain was up to about 90 per cent of its pre-COVID-19 service levels, and SeaBus service had resumed sailings every half hour.

"Thousands of essential workers have relied on transit every day during the pandemic and many of our customers will return over the coming weeks and months," Kevin Desmond, TransLink's CEO said in a statement.

"We’re committed to keep our system running and making it widely available to the people of Metro Vancouver as they go back to work, to school, and to moving around the region."