Ontario highlights steps taken to increase safety measures on transit

Sept. 3, 2020
The province is partnering with transit providers to ensure safety while promoting the restart of its economy.

Provincial and transit officials turned the spotlight on the many measures put into place to assure riders their safety is of top concern as Ontario moves to the next stages of reopening.  

"Whether you take public transit to work or school, I want everyone to know that we are doing all we can to make sure you can get to your destination as safely as possible," said Ontario Premier Doug Ford. "Public health measures like mask requirements and enhanced cleaning measures on transit will help stop the spread of COVID-19 and ensure people can safely go back to work, put food on the table and get our economy going again."

The province has distributed comprehensive health and safety guidance documents to provide guidance to transit systems. The province says the documents were developed in consultation with public health and transit experts.

Metrolinx has implemented more than 40 safety focused measures and will increase GO train and bus service starting Sept. 5 as more people return to work and school. Steps Metrolinx has taken include the installation of seat dividers on GO trains and buses, making face coverings mandatory for staff and passengers, providing hand sanitizer dispensers on every GO bus and at every GO Transit and UP Express station and installing health kiosks at dozens of stations to provide safety information.

"Metrolinx was proud to provide transit service to essential workers and other frontline service workers throughout the pandemic. As we now turn our attention to reinstatement and growth of services for our customers, we are focused on the more than 40 health and safety measures we have implemented to continue to keep our staff and customers safe," said Metrolinx President and CEO Phil Verster.

Another Ontario transit provider, Toronto Transit Commission, has recalled one-third of the operators it temporarily laid off in anticipation of increased ridership as schools reopen.

Statistics Canada recently released data showing that while June ridership on all of Canada’s transit systems is significantly down year-over-year, it has shown an increase from lows observed in April and May.

In addition to guidance, the province has also provided transit operators with a financial commitment to help bridge gaps left by revenue declines brought about by the pandemic.

The Ontario and federal governments are providing up to C$2 billion (US$1.53 billion) to 110 municipalities with transit systems as part of the Safe Restart Agreement. In the first phase, more than C$660 million (US$505.6 million) in funding will help cover lost revenue and new costs incurred due to COVID-19, including the installation of driver protection barriers and passenger hand sanitizer stations. In addition, the province is providing municipalities with C$15 million (US$11.49 million) to cover the cost of enhanced cleaning for their transit systems.

About the Author

Mischa Wanek-Libman | Group Editorial Director

Mischa Wanek-Libman serves as editor in chief of Mass Transit magazine and group editorial director of the Infrastructure and Aviation Group at Endeavor Business Media. She is responsible for developing and maintaining the editorial direction of the group and is based in the western suburbs of Chicago.

Wanek-Libman has spent more than 20 years covering transportation issues including construction projects and engineering challenges for various commuter railroads and transit agencies. She has been recognized for editorial excellence through her individual work, as well as for collaborative content. 

She is an active member of the American Public Transportation Association's Marketing and Communications Committee and serves as a Board Observer on the National Railroad Construction and Maintenance Association (NRC) Board of Directors.  

She is a graduate of Drake University, where she earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism and Mass Communication with a major in magazine journalism and a minor in business management.