TTC implementing operational changes during coronavirus pandemic

Mar 19 2020, 6:37 am

The TTC is implementing policies to ensure social distancing on public transit and will provide alternative transportation to healthcare centres for some individuals who are symptomatic during the COVID-19 pandemic.

On Thursday, the TTC announced multiple policy changes to assist the City of Toronto’s ongoing efforts to flatten the curve of the pandemic.

“I want to thank the TTC and its frontline workers for undertaking these changes to help protect the health of our residents and continue providing service at this difficult time,” Mayor John Tory said in a statement.

“Our frontline TTC workers move our city every day but it is more important than ever that they keep service running so that health care workers who rely on transit can get to work to help people who need it the most right now.”

TTC spokesperson, Stuart Green said the situation is a “dynamic and evolving issue and we constantly asses our response in consultation with public health experts.”

The first change will be to implement all-door boarding on all vehicles, which will be put in place over the next 24 hours. The change is being made to avoid “pinch points at single door entry” and allow for further social distancing among customers.

The second policy change works with Toronto Public Health, Toronto Community Housing, Toronto Transit Commission and the City of Toronto to “keep the city’s most vulnerable safe.”

Starting soon, if community housing clients are identified as symptomatic with coronavirus, Wheel-Trans will transport the patients to a healthcare centre for testing and then to an isolation centre if needed.

The operators who undertake this work will be outfitted with appropriate Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), as will patients, which is recommended by Toronto Public Health.

According to the TTC, Wheel-Trans will dedicate vehicles to these trips and will undergo intense cleaning protocols.

The TTC is also working closely with Toronto Community Housing to help them ensure all of their vehicles are properly cleaned and maintained.

And last, TTC employees can wear face masks on the job if they choose to do so.

However, Toronto Public Health continues to advise against wearing masks for healthy individuals and has noted that masks may in fact increase risk as they can lead to individuals touching their face more often than necessary.

Nevertheless, employees who choose to wear the gear will not be asked to remove it.

“The TTC has determined that, for the comfort of employees, and to ensure continuity of transit service for those who need it at this time, it will not restrict employees from wearing masks while at work,” the public transit system said.

On Wednesday, the transit system also said that TTC fare enforcement officers will no longer approach riders to check for proof of payment and when it comes to on-board trips,  inspectors will leave vehicles once there are 50 people on it to maintain social distancing.