Transit Workers Deserve Protection

My latest for NOW Toronto: Coronavirus: Strike ups pressure on TTC to protect drivers

A simmering dispute between TTC management and the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 113 boiled over when a small number of drivers at two divisions refused work on health and safety grounds. The core of the dispute is the difference between each party’s idea of what protection is “needed”, and the union’s claim that TTC has been slow and inconsistent in provision of safety gear. That is an issue that extends beyond the Covid pandemic, but the breadth of potential exposure in this case is much greater than environmental concerns in some work locations.

The problem also affects maintenance workers who, by the nature of their jobs, may have difficulty maintaining the 2 metre separation. Most of the public discussion has been about drivers, but the maintenance workers are just as important because without them vehicles and drivers never get out of the garage, and track and signals just don’t get fixed.

Update: After the article went online, TTC spokesperson Stuart Green (@TTCStuart) tweeted:

1/3 We have received the first shipment of multi-use disposable polypropylene masks – washable up to three times. We have 15,000 now with another 10,000 arriving Monday. Another 75,000 of these masks will be coming over the next three weeks.

2/3 These masks are being distributed to bus divisions now and are intended as an interim measure while we manufacture and distribute reusable cloth masks over the next two to three weeks. That work is already underway.

3/3 This weekend, bus operators will receive two masks each to start along with their gloves, hand sanitizer and disinfectant wipes. All operators will be supplied with masks in a phased approach and are optional to wear.

The intent is to roll out this program first at the bus divisions because drivers there have the greatest potential exposure to the public, then to the streetcar divisions.

TTC Repeats Penalty-Free Offer for Monthly Pass Cancellation

The TTC is repeating its offer, first made in mid-March, for monthly pass subscribers on Presto to cancel their subscriptions without penalty. This must be done by April 22 when the automatic renewals for May will kick in.

A still-outstanding question is whether the TTC will offer partial refunds for the March passes which most riders were unable to use after many businesses and other activities were curtailed or closed. According to TTC spokesperson Stuart Green, this matter has not been decided yet.

Streetcars Return to 505 Dundas on April 20, 2020 (Updated)

With the switch to buses on the 511 Bathurst, the 505 Dundas route will resume streetcar operation on Monday, April 20, 2020.

Service on the 504B King and 505 Dundas to Broadview Station will be replaced by buses for one week from Sunday April 19 to Saturday April 25 for track work on Broadview at Wolfrey and neighbouring areas. This could also include modification of the overhead on Broadview between Gerrard and Danforth for pantograph operation. New poles have appeared at several locations where curves that are not pan-compliant are still in place.

504B King streetcars will loop via Parliament, Dundas and Broadview. The 504A service will continue to operate to Distillery Loop.

505 Dundas streetcars will loop via Parliament, Gerrard and Broadview.

A shuttle bus will operate between Broadview Station and King & Parliament.

Work at Broadview Station on the extended 504 King platform is nearly complete, and this should relieve some of the streetcar queuing on Broadview outside of the station, an important consideration once the 505 Dundas streetcars are added to the traffic there.