Premier Ford Announces Plans to Protect Transit Riders and Workers as Province Reopens Amid The Pandemic

News comes after Ontario reports the seventh day in a row of triple-digit increases in COVID-19 cases across the province.

It has been a couple of weeks since the Ontario government had given regions across the province the green light to move into Stage 3 of the province’s COVID-19 reopening plan. 

As the province continues to safely and gradually reopen, more people are returning to work and the Ontario government had announced today they will be partnering with public transit operators across the province. 

According to the Ontario government, the partnership with public transit operators will ensure transit workers and passengers can safely and confidently take public transit amid the ongoing pandemic. 

On Wednesday afternoon, Premier Doug Ford announced the details of the partnership alongside the Minister of Transportation Caroline Mulroney, and the Associate Minister of Transportation in the Greater Toronto Area, Kinga Surma. 

“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 Premier 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 Ontario government announced today that it has distributed comprehensive health and safety guidance documents and will be providing significant funding to cover lost revenue, enhanced cleaning, and other costs incurred because of COVID-19. 

Metrolinx, a Crown agency that manages road and public transportation in Ontario, says it has implemented more than 40 measures to help keep transit workers and passengers safe. 

These measures include installing 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 stations, and installing health kiosks at dozens of stations to provide safety information. 

The public transportation agency also announced it will be increasing GO train and bus services beginning September 5, 2020, as more people return to work and or school this fall. 

The measures announced by Metrolinx follows the new comprehensive safety guidance for public transit systems and passengers distributed by the Ministry of Transportation. 

According to the Ministry of Transportation, the guidance was developed in consultation with public health and transit experts and aims to provide transit systems with the information they need to protect employees and passengers during the COVID-19 outbreak. 

“People across the province need safe and reliable transit to get where they need to go as the province gradually reopens,” said Transportation Minister Caroline Mulroney. 

“That’s why we are continuing to work with our partners to provide the information and support they need to continue to keep public transit systems safe. I want to thank our transit agencies for going above and beyond these past few months to protect riders and workers.”

Some of the highlights from the comprehensive safety guidance that passengers will need to know when boarding public transportations includes: 

  • Physical distancing recommendations of at least 2 metres (6 feet) of distance between other passengers 
  • Requirement of wearing face coverings or non-medical masks at all times during travels on public transit
  • Encouragement to carry and use own hand sanitizer and practice hand hygiene
  • Suggested contactless payment (tapping with credit or debit cards or public transit passes) and avoiding exchanging paper products whenever possible
  • Respiratory etiquette such as covering mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing

For more information on both public transit and passengers’ safety guidance in response to COVID-19, visit the official Government of Ontario website at:

https://www.ontario.ca/page/guidance-public-transit-agencies-and-passengers-response-covid-19#section-4

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