How to Ride Public Transit Safely During the Coronavirus Pandemic

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Photo by Burst on Pexels

Life in Toronto continues to change at a rapid pace amidst the coronavirus pandemic, with residents abiding by officials’ instructions to stay home and practice social distancing.

And while Toronto’s Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Eileen de Villa, has said those who are feeling ill, and even those who are not, should stay at home, some residents are still required to leave their homes for work and other measures.

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If you’re among those people — or you have to leave your house for any reason in the next few weeks — you may be wondering how can you get around safely during this time.

Public transit still continues in the city, although, on a slightly different note.

Metrolinx has announced all GO Transit will continue, however, it will temporarily be reducing its GO and UP Express service this week.

“Reducing our service allows us to rotate our employees on our vehicles and in our stations,” said Metrolinx in a statement.

“We know our transit is a lifeline service for many customers during these difficult times and we want to ensure we have a healthy workforce so there is a reliable and sustainable plan for service during the weeks to come.”

Metrolinx is also advising its customers to follow the following instructions:

  • Customers with accessibility needs, or individuals with mobility concerns should be the only customers who are regularly using the accessibility coach on GO trains. If you do not need assistance during your trip, we strongly suggest you consider using another coach. This is to ensure there is adequate distance between everyone in the coach,  including staff.
  • GO bus customers are now being asked to please avoid sitting in the row directly behind the driver to ensure there is adequate distance between everyone on the bus, including staff.
  • GO train and UP Express customers are also being encouraged to spread out along the platforms – and not to crowd around one specific door to help keep a safe distance between everyone on board.
  • When on a GO or UP train please practice social distancing and spread yourselves out as much as possible.

Dr. de Villa said the TTC will remain a vital service for people to get around and to obtain goods and services during this time, however, she says, “If you need to take public transit to access health or necessary goods or services, practice social distancing.”

On Tuesday, the city’s transit agency shared an update regarding Dr. de Villa’s recommendation on social distancing and how to implement it:

  • Keeping 2 metres (6 feet) apart from others
  • Avoiding mass gatherings
  • Avoiding crowds
  • Staggering work hours to avoid peak travel times on transit

From photos shared on social media, you can tell that riders are definitely practicing social distancing, with many streetcar and subway cars during the morning commutes appearing to be eerily empty.

Or, when multiple people are in the same car, they practice social distancing by leaving a seat empty between them.

But above all, remember to stay home if you feel sick and do not use public transit.

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