TORONTO – Getting onboard transit buses during the COVID-19 pandemic has been different. In Thunder Bay, people have loaded buses from the rear door, and the service has had double buses running on major routes, to keep social distancing working.
“People must continue to exercise caution when on public transit because physical distancing will be a challenge,” said Christine Elliott, Minister of Health. “I urge everyone to follow our public health guidelines. They may seem simple, but they are effective in helping to prevent the spread of COVID-19. And if you are worried you have the virus or have been in contact with someone who has the virus, please get tested.”
Caroline Mulroney, Minister of Transportation and Kinga Surma, Associate Minister of Transportation, released comprehensive safety guidance for public transit agencies as the province reopens and more people return to work. This guidance, developed in consultation with health and transit officials, provides transit agencies with the information they need to help protect employees and passengers during the COVID-19 outbreak.
“Although we are making steady progress to contain the virus, it still poses a serious health threat for everyone, especially our most vulnerable citizens,” said Caroline Mulroney, Minister of Transportation. “This guidance for transit agencies will provide consistent, clear and practical information that transit agencies can use to help stop the spread of COVID-19 and keep Ontarians moving safely.”
The guidance document provides transit agencies with best practices and tips to help stop the spread of COVID-19, such as maintaining physical distance between people whenever possible, highly recommending that passengers wear face coverings or non-medical masks when taking transit, practicing proper hand hygiene and respiratory etiquette, installing physical barriers between drivers and passengers, using physical markers between seats and cleaning and disinfecting frequently touched surfaces and objects.
The provincial transit agency, Metrolinx, has identified over 40 actions to help keep staff and passengers safe when riding GO trains, GO buses and the UP Express. These strategies include:
- Piloting health and safety kiosks that provide customers with tools and advice on how to stay safe.
- Enhanced deep-cleaning processes for vehicles and in stations.
- Providing hand sanitizer on every GO bus and in every station, so passengers can apply during their trip.
- Installing dividers for safety on GO trains and buses.
“As the province gradually reopens, we know that more people will be going back to work,” said Kinga Surma, Associate Minister of Transportation. “In addition to the guidance document for transit agencies, the Ministry of Transportation and Metrolinx have been working diligently to implement new protocols to keep transit workers and passengers safe and healthy.”
Metrolinx has also developed a comprehensive educational campaign called “Safety Never Stops” to inform passengers of safety tips on vehicles, platforms and in transit and bus stations. This guidance is part of the work that Ontario and public health experts are doing to carefully monitor the key public health indicators, as outlined in A Framework to Reopening our Province.