Memo from the General Manager, Transportation Services Department – March 24, 2020
All levels of government and public health authorities are issuing a strong message for all Canadians to practice social distancing to slow the spread of COVID-19 in our communities.
To date, OC Transpo has maintained normal levels of O-Train, bus, and Para Transpo service. We have been monitoring ridership levels closely and have noticed a drop of between 70 and 90 percent in customer volumes.
Maintaining service to all neighbourhoods and to essential services, such as grocery stores, pharmacies and hospitals, at levels that will still allow customers to safely space themselves out on trains and buses and maintain social distancing continues to be a priority.
With reduced ridership and COVID-19 potential impacts to the workforce, an adjustment to our multi-modal transit system is required to sustain and continue to provide the service while at the same time ensuring levels of service that enable physical distancing
In consultation with our Union partners, we are able to introduce changes to O-Train, bus, and Para Transpo service, while being careful to align with the objectives that are noted above.
Starting this week, OC Transpo will be adjusting service levels on routes across the system. Please note the individual start dates for the different modes:
As of Monday, March 30:
- Service will continue to be provided in all neighborhoods’;
- Weekday service will move to Saturday service levels on many routes;
- Many routes, which normally operate only on weekdays, will continue to run but at modified service levels;
- Rural weekly Shopper services will continue as usual;
- The first trip in the morning will be later than usual on many routes;
- Saturday and Sunday service will operate as usual; and,
- Complete schedules and details of changes on specific routes will be available later this week on octranspo.com.
O-Train Line 1, the Confederation Line
As of Friday, March 27:
- On Fridays, service will run until 1:00 a.m. on Saturday morning, and overnight bus service will be available from that time;
- Otherwise, service start and end times will remain the same;
- Trains will arrive every 6 to 8 minutes at peak periods and every 10 to 16 minutes at other times of the day and on weekends;
- The number of dedicated R1 buses is being reduced to align with changed service levels on Line 1 and,
- Staffing levels of the red-vested O-Train Ambassadors have been scaled back.
O-Train Line 2, the Trillium Line
As of Wednesday, March 25:
- Trains will arrive every 15 minutes at all times;
- Service start and end times will remain the same; and,
- As we have done on our buses and Line 1 trains to protect the health of our operators and customers, we will be installing tape on Line 2 trains to block the area closest to the operator cab from the rest of the train.
As of Tuesday March 24:
- All trip requests made a day in advance are being accommodated;
- Most trips are being operated with only one customer on board, to allow for social distancing; and,
- Service levels are being managed according to demand.
We will continue to monitor ridership levels closely and are ready to adjust again as necessary to continue to protect the health and safety of our staff and customers. If operators report crowding on any services, we are ready to respond with spare vehicles. Some transit customers may experience longer walks, longer wait times, longer travel times or additional transfers as part of their trip. This plan may be adjusted as the COVID-19 situation evolves.
Finally, Metrolinx has extended the deadline to cancel autorenewal of April monthly transit passes to Friday, March 27 at 11:59 pm. This will give customers more time to cancel their monthly pass, should they wish. Customers can change their autorenew settings at Prestocard.ca.
We will be communicating these changes and the extended deadline to our customers. Messaging will be distributed through all our communications channels as quickly as it can be produced, prioritizing our web and social media channels.