The Toronto transit union is calling on the TTC to limit the number of passengers on crowded buses that are on busier routes.
On Wednesday, ATU Local 113 — which represents 12,000 workers — said with the city’s daily COVID-19 cases surging and ongoing reports of overcrowding on a growing number of TTC bus routes, the TTC must enact physical distancing to limit the number of riders on the buses.
They say the transit commission can do this by bringing back all laid-off TTC workers so there are more buses servicing busy routes.
The union first said in April that the TTC should limit regular buses to 10 riders and articulated buses to 15 passengers.
“With coronavirus cases surging in Toronto, TTC management must enact and manage these important passenger limits to make buses safer for workers and riders,” Carlos Santos, ATU Local 113 President, said in a statement.
“The TTC can put more vehicles on the road tomorrow by bringing back the 168 laid-off workers who are still at home and ready to move Toronto.”
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On Tuesday a TTC rider, Victoria, took to social media posting a photo of a crowded bus and asking the transit commissions, “Curious as to how we’re supposed to social distance here?”
TTC customer service responded, “As the city re-opens, social distancing will no longer be possible on our vehicles. As such, if you feel that a vehicle you are on is overcrowded, I would suggest getting off and boarding the next one.”
“Apologies for the inconvenience,” they added.
Then on Wednesday, Ontario’s associate chief medical officer of health, Dr. Barbara Yaffe, addressed the issue saying if the bus is busy riders “have to decide their risk tolerance” of the situation.
She recommended that people wear masks and wash their hands well to “substantially reduce risk” of virus spread.
But Yaffe said if the risk seems too great, then “don’t get on the bus,” which she noted might not be feasible for people.
Santos said while wearing a mask on the TTC helps reduce the spread “it’s not enough.”
“It’s time for the TTC to get their pandemic response right by bringing back laid-off workers, increase service on busy routes and enforce passenger limits.”
To date, there are 23,338 cases in total, with 19,523 recovered and 1,327 reported deaths in Toronto.