Riding the TTC is a risk for people who cannot work from home

Jan 27, 2022 | Campus News, News

Restaurant worker Rohit Sharma says he doesn’t feel safe while travelling on public transport as Omicron cases surge.

“During the busy hours of the day neither passengers practise social distancing inside the bus, nor the people in charge of the TTC take the matter into consideration even though there are cameras inside the buses,” Sharma said.

“Also, another problem with the covid protocol is that while requesting to stop the bus, you either have to press the button or pull down the wire,” he said. “The buttons and the wires are touched by hundreds of passengers and those are not sanitized frequently.”

Thousands of people travel on TTC to get to school, work and about the city during the past two years. Despite TTC guidelines to deal with COVID-19, passengers face issues with social distancing, including a fewer number of buses on routes because of fewer drivers creates a concern about crowding and social distancing.

Face coverings are mandatory on TTC property, including busses and subways. Riders can access real-time bus occupancy levels and arrival times on the commission’s website, along with the RocketMan or Transit apps to view bus occupancy levels in real-time.

Yashika Gandhi, a part-time worker at a Yorkdale retail shop, regularly travels from Etobicoke to Dufferin Street and Highway 401. She said she’s always concerned about coming into contact with people as some board buses without following pandemic protocols.

Gandhi started travelling on the TTC during the lockdown in July 2021. Initially, she wasn’t concerned about such problems.

“People boarding the TTC appear to have become more flexible and have not been following COVID-19 guidelines, like wearing a mask and this leniency causes a threat to other commuting travellers,” she said.

“We have an equal amount of risk when we travel or deal with people in transit,” she said.

TTC driver Jitendra Bhardwaj said the transit system follows all COVID-19 protocols. And its employees are vaccinated, and those who refused vaccinations were let go or suspended.

“Buses are sanitized regularly,” he said. “Extra precautions have been taken during the pandemic as we can see the labels and boards of social distancing. We have all the sanitizing stuff with us whenever we drive.”

According to the latest TTC guidelines, face-covering remains mandatory when travelling on the TTC.

The TTC continues to enhance cleaning and disinfection of all public places and vehicles with a focus on touch and grab points, such as buttons, railings, manages and straps. Hand sanitizer is also available at the main entrance of all subway stations.

“We continue to focus on providing a safe and reliable transit experience for everyone,” said TTC CEO Rick Leary on the commission’s website. “The TTC also maintains service flexibility and continues to operate demand-responsive bus service to supplement scheduled service where required.”