TORONTO, ON., Sept. 2, 2020 ― Today, the Ford government called a press conference to reassure Ontario transit riders that the province and public transit operators will ensure transit workers and passengers can safely and confidently take public transit.
The government has distributed comprehensive health and safety guidance documents and is providing significant funding to cover lost revenue, enhanced cleaning and other costs incurred because of COVID-19.
Details were provided today by Premier Doug Ford, Caroline Mulroney, Minister of Transportation, and Kinga Surma, Associate Minister of Transportation (GTA).
“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.”
Metrolinx 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 station, and installing health kiosks at dozens of stations to provide safety information. Metrolinx is also increasing GO train and bus services beginning September 5, 2020, as more people return to school and work.
“Metrolinx was proud to provide transit service to essential workers and other frontline service workers throughout the pandemic,” said Phil Verster, President and CEO, Metrolinx. “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,” added Verster.
These measures follow the comprehensive safety guidance for public transit systems and passengers distributed by the Ministry of Transportation. This guidance, developed in consultation with public health and transit experts, provides transit systems with the information they need to help 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 Minister 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.”
The Ontario and federal governments are providing up to $2 billion to 110 municipalities with transit systems as part of the Safe Restart Agreement. In the first phase, over $660 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 $15 million to cover the cost of enhanced cleaning for their transit systems.
“As people return to their workplace, the need for safe and reliable public transit will be critical,” said Associate Minister Surma. “In collaboration with health and transit experts, our government has worked to ensure measures are in place that will support the public transit sector and protect the health and safety of passengers across the province.”