Toronto and its transit system face a long climb back to conditions before the Covid-19 pandemic and the shutdown of much activity across the city. On June 17, the TTC Board will act on a report with several recommendation for the recovery path. Like so much in Toronto, the future is uncertain, but the TTC has a range of options on the table.
Compulsory Masking and Safety on Board
Anyone within the TTC system will be required to wear a mask or facial covering effective July 2 with only a few exceptions:
- Children under two
- People with an underlying condition that prevents wearing of a mask
- People who are unable to put on or take off a mask without assistance
- TTC employees working in non-public areas, or behind a physical barrier or shield such as in a collector’s booth
- People who must be accommodated under the Ontario Human Rights Code
The TTC will have a supply of one million masks to be distributed free of charge. This will be concentrated in lower-income areas of the city. The TTC will not bar access to those without masks, although social pressure from other riders may have an effect.
All vehicles are cleaned and disinfected overnight. Surface vehicles are disinfected at mid-day, and Wheel-Trans buses have added cleanings after carrying Covid-19 positive riders. Stations are cleaned and disinfected, especially commonly touched surfaces, two to four times daily depending on usage.
Vehicle updates under consideration include hand sanitizers for passengers, as well as ultra-violet disinfection and improved air filters in the heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems.
Effective July 2, front door boarding on buses will resume including payment by cash, token or ticket. Riders will still have the option of using rear doors, although this practice may be discontinued eventually. Such a move has a “catch-22” because stop service times will increase if all riders are forced to load through one door.
The TTC will distribute free Presto cards in areas where usage to date has been low, although this does not address the problem of how riders will load their cards given the scarcity of suburban locations to do so.
Presto Credits for Monthly Passes
For those who bought a March or April 2020 monthly pass, there will be a refund based on actual usage between March 18 and April 30. This will be applied as a credit on the Presto account by August 21 where it can be used either toward the purchase of a September pass, or for pay-as-you-go rides. This option allows for riders who will not, by September, be using the TTC enough to justify buying a pass.
It is recommended that a pro-rated PRESTO credit be provided to March and April pass holders based on their daily usage from March 18-31 and April 1-30, 2020. The pro-rated credit for March and April will calculate the daily rate based on the entire value of the pass, and will provide the credit based on the days the pass was not used. This recommendation ensures that requests are being responded to fairly to our customers, while also considering the current financial constraints the TTC is facing. [p 36]
There will be no refunds for May and beyond as, by that point, riders would have been well aware of their changing travel needs and had ample time to cancel any pass subscriptions in effect.