The TTC is no longer accepting payment by cash, tickets, or tokens on buses and asks all customers to board and exit using the rear doors when possible to keep operators safe and ensure physical distancing.
Starting Tuesday, March 24, the TTC says it will now no longer accept payments other than PRESTO.
According to the transit system, over 90% of riders now use PRESTO and those who have are still required to tap their PRESTO card and ticket when boarding a vehicle or entering a station.
Over the past week, daily PRESTO taps indicated ridership declined by more than 70%, compared to a typical weekday in March.
The data shows that travel patterns are changing and ridership is declining.
Therefore, certain services have been affected including: all 900-series Express routes are reallocated as needed, except for 900 Airport Express, 903 Kennedy-Scarborough Centre Express and 927 Highway 27 Express; all 140-series Downtown Express routes are reallocated as where needed; 176 Mimico GO and 508 Lake Shore service is reallocated as needed.
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The TTC said all regular bus services will continue to run along Express routes that are suspended and all neighbourhoods will continue to be served.
Another change to TTC policy is the on boarding and exiting of buses.
On Monday, the transit system said that effective immediately and over the next 24 hours, bus customers must board and exit through the rears doors only, unless the accessible ramp needs to be used, as fare boxes will not be accessible.
The change was made with the transit union, ATU Local 113, to allow for “greater social distancing while minimizing potential contact with operators.”
“We need to do everything we can to protect dedicated TTC bus operators who are serving the public each day during this coronavirus pandemic,” Carlos Santos, ATU Local 113 said in a statement.
According to Santos, after working closely with the TTC and Ontario’s Ministry of Transportation the union secured “greater social distancing” and “health protections” for TTC bus operators.
“These extra measures for bus operators will make our members feel more secure while transporting nurses, doctors, paramedics, police officers, firefighters and grocery clerks to work so they can continue providing the essential services Toronto depends on,” Santos said.
The transit operators have also been instructed to keep their protective barriers closed at all times.
“This move is being made to prioritize the health and safety of our employees and customers,” TTC CEO Rick Leary said. “We continue to focus on physical distancing, social equity and ensuring we match capacity to demand.”
“The TTC continues to take direction and follow the sound advice from Toronto Public Health regarding what precautions and controls should be implemented to protect the well-being of our customers and employees,” the statement read.
Continuous changes have been made to TTC protocol and policy as the coronavirus pandemic evolves.
Wheel-Trans will also now transport patients to a healthcare centre for testing and then to an isolation centre if needed.