How the TTC and Metrolinx are handling coronavirus on transit in Toronto

Mar 3 2020, 6:20 am

The TTC is coming up with a plan to help prevent the spread of coronavirus on public transit.

According to Stuart Green, spokesperson for the TTC, the transit system is speaking to Toronto Public Health daily and is taking advice from “reputable experts.”

“Like most employers, we’ve distributed hand sanitizer, wipes throughout workplaces,” said Green.

He also outlines that the TTC has increased cleaning of the stations and trains, including handrails on stairs and touch points in public bathrooms.

The TTC is also looking into the application of antimicrobial surface treatment.

“These are proactive steps we’ve taken to supplement public health advice around good hand hygiene etc. Of course, we’d follow any advice from TPH as to if, when and how we change our practices,” said Green.

As for Metrolinx, a recent coronavirus case on Saturday has made them reevaluate their containment methods for public transit to be more rigorous.

York Region Public Health said that a woman boarded a GO bus on February 26, who has since tested positive for COVID-19 and her husband who has travelled with her has subsequently tested positive for the virus.

“Given we transport over 300,000 people every day, this was not unexpected. We are prepared,” Matt Llewellyn, Metrolinx senior advisor, Media Relations, said in a post.

According to Llewellyn, all vehicles are thoroughly cleaned at the end of each day, and they are now testing a long-acting disinfectant or anti-microbial agent.

“The initial results are encouraging and we are now beginning to incorporate its use into our standard operating/cleaning procedures,” Llewellyn said. “Additionally at our stations and offices, hand sanitizers have been distributed.”

Man cleaning a GO bus / Metrolinx

Although public health officials continue to say the risk is low, even for those who boarded the same bus as the patient, Metrolinx said they took “immediate action.”

“Out of an abundance of caution, the bus in question was taken out of service and thoroughly cleaned and we are providing the driver with the full support of our Metrolinx family,” the public transit agency spokesperson said.

Metrolinx also began communicating through social media and to the news media to get the word out to customers who were on board the effected bus.

Llewellyn said the agency has “learned a lot about managing a pandemic-type crisis since SARS and H1N1 – two past global viruses – and how important it is to communicate to staff and customers early, openly and frequently.”

Just like the TTC, Metrolinx is in constant contact with health experts to ensure they are taking all the necessary steps to protect the travelling public.

“The safety and health of our staff and customers is central to everything we do,” said Llewellyn.

On Monday, Ontario reported three new cases of the novel coronavirus, bringing the total in the province to 18.