The TTC workers union is recommending for the transit system to implement a rule allowing no more than 10 to 15 people on a bus to promote physical distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic.
On Thursday, Carlos Santos the President of ATU Local 113 — which represents 12,000 union members — advised TTC bus operators to limit the number of passengers to 10 riders on a regular bus and 15 riders on an articulated bus to enforce physical distancing measures.
Carlos Santos, President of ATU Local 113 has sent the following update to 12,000 union members advising TTC bus operators to limit the number of passengers to enforce physical distancing measures. https://t.co/WZ0b1np82t
— ATU Local 113 (@ATUlocal113) April 2, 2020
ATU Local 113’s recommendation comes after “ongoing overcrowding on some TTC bus routes, which goes against the guidelines coming from public health officials and political leaders.”
Santos said limiting the number of passengers on TTC buses will help ensure riders are practicing physical distancing by staying two metres away from each other.
In addition, the union president said TTC bus operators should continue with rear-door boarding and reminded employees that they have the option to wear a face mask on the job.
“While the TTC has added buses to some busy routes, we think TTC management should be doing more to enforce physical distancing on the TTC. For this reason, we are asking members to use their discretion by enforcing these passenger limits during the pandemic,” Santos said.
The union added that the recommendation comes after Premier Doug Ford said there is very little separating Ontario’s fate to that of Spain and Italy, which have seen significant death tolls.
According to the province, the next two weeks will be “absolutely critical” as a surge in cases is expected.
“We are providing a critical public service. We’re getting health care workers to hospitals, clerks to grocery stores and first responders to stations. We’re also on the frontlines,” Santos said.
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The TTC has not yet implemented caps on passengers per vehicle.
“While we agree 10-15 customers is a reasonable number, we would rather operators continue to focus on moving our customers safely than on counting heads,” TTC spokesperson Stuart Green told Daily Hive.
He pointed to the fact that more buses have been added to busy routes in order to prevent overcrowding, which has resulted in fewer customers per bus.
“The TTC continues to make even more improvements so that we can continue to delivery vitally important transit service safely while allowing for good physical distancing,” Green added.
“In order to reduce customer volume and allow for better physical distancing, we are providing a minimum of 47 extra buses for early am and pm peak service on higher volume routes,” said the TTC on April 1.
Last week, the TTC announced it was 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.