As of May 10th, the TTC has made historic changes to service – reducing train and streetcar services to essentially half the service, suspending express routes and not differentiating between peak and non-peak periods of travel. Many commuters have been either laid off or are working from home as emergency orders have been implemented as ridership has dramatically fallen. As quarantine restrictions are slowly being lifted, we are looking at a whole new era for the TTC.
How can we use transit safely if we are expected to maintain 2 metres of social distancing?
Stagger Business Hours
Reducing the stress on the system during peak times is essential to safe commuting. Workplaces should offer staggered start times to employees who are required to come in, eliminating set peak periods.
Increase Health Standards
The TTC has been focused on cleaning and disinfecting all public places, especially touch points. However, there is little information on the specifics of what it looks like in practice. Buses, trains and streetcars should be sanitized with every change in staff (similar to Kingston operations). This will create disruption in timetables; however, prioritizing commuter safety is key.
Wearing masks on transit is currently optional, mandating commuters to wear non-surgical facial coverings could provide an additional layer of safety.
At a time when commuter numbers will increase to support social distancing accurately service should be increasing. With more people travelling on transit and fewer service vehicles, a system of overcrowding and delays is essentially being guaranteed. Increasing service will reassure commuters and potential commuters that the TTC will be able to support a safe method of transportation.
Business as usual will be challenged but rather than reducing services, post-pandemic operations could be an opportunity to expand transit. With the support of workplaces, transit riders and TTC staff, transit can be a reliable and safe method of travel.