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City working on plan to keep TTC riders safe when service ramps up again, Tory says
May 12, 2020
Codi Wilson

Mayor John Tory says the city is hard at work trying to come up with a plan for keeping people safe on the TTC when operations start to ramp back up.

Speaking to CP24 on Tuesday morning, the mayor said the TTC has been one of the city’s “toughest files” in terms of the recovery and reopening of Toronto.

The TTC has seen a steep decline in ridership since the beginning of the pandemic and officials have previously estimated that the transit agency is seeing a revenue loss of about $65 million per week.

On Monday, The Toronto Star reported that preliminary research from a University of Toronto survey shows that even as new COVID-19 cases decline in the city, about 25 per cent of former TTC riders don’t feel comfortable getting back on the TTC until they have been vaccinated against the disease.

Experts have suggested that a vaccine will not be ready for at least another year.

“On the one hand, you have people saying, quite understandably, that they are nervous and they see the TTC as a place that can be crowded,” Tory said Tuesday.

“We worry about that from the standpoint both that we want people to be able to get around and get to work and do it in a way that is best for the city and the environment, which is public transit as opposed to cars. On the other hand, people need to be safe.”

Tory said the city is still figuring out the best way to tackle these issues.

“We are doing a huge amount of work coming up with a plan that talks about how people can protect themselves and still use the TTC. How we can keep it clean and disinfect it,” Tory said.

“How we can make sure for those who choose not to (take the TTC) (that they can) use bicycles or foot and we are going to have more details on that this week.”

Tory noted that whatever the plan may be going forward, it is “never going to be perfect.”

“This is part of the complexity of all of this and our job is to make the TTC as safe as possible from the standpoint of the virus, which may include, for example, some considerations of masks and PPE for people to be wearing,” he said.

“Let's just be candid about this now. It is not going to be possible to maintain the same level of occupancy of those transit vehicles.”

He noted that some workers may be in a position where they do not have to return to the office right away, which would limit the number of people taking the TTC each day.

“They may come back to work in the fall or some time like that because they can work from home and this will allow the TTC to remain safer health-wise even though that costs us money,” Tory said.

“This is part of what we are spending a lot of time on right now is coming up with the right plan as best we can.”