brampton transit free

Brampton and Mississauga are now doing free transit so why isn't the TTC?

In response to Premier Doug Ford declaring a state of emergency in Ontario last week, a number of local transit authorities have made alterations to their services, including offering rides completely free of charge.

Residents in Mississauga, BramptonDurham Region, Hamilton, Barrie and other locales in the province no longer have to pay a fare to take public transit amid the COVID-19 pandemic — something that major cities elsewhere in Canada, such as Vancouver and Halifax, have likewise implemented.

This has caused many Torontonians to wonder if the TTC will move to do the same during these unprecedented circumstances.

But TTC spokesperson Stuart Green says that, unfortunately for the city, free transit is not something that's being considered right now, in part due to the sheer scope of the commission's daily service.

"That's not our decision to make alone. We would need to consult the City to work through financial and service impacts," Green says. "And with all due respect to other agencies, we move significantly more people in different ways at different times."

As the coronavirus situation has worsened, the TTC has increased the cleaning and sanitization of its vehicles and stations, switched to all-door boarding on all vehicles, suspended paper transfers, provided staff with hand sanitizer and antimicrobial wipes, and permitted all personnel to wear face masks. It has also been acting on daily guidance from Toronto Public Health.

Regional transportation agency Metrolinx has taken a few similar measures in the face of the pandemic, like reducing GO serviceramping up disinfection of its vehicles, offering free hand sanitizer to passengers and removing the option of cash payment in an attempt to keep staff healthy.

(It is worth noting that the Bank of Canada has encouraged businesses to continue to accept cash, saying that the risks from handling money "are no greater than those posed by touching other common surfaces.")

Transit authorities in aforementioned cities like Mississauga and Brampton have also made modifications to schedules, imposed mandatory rear-door entry and added smaller capacity restrictions.

These measures and fare suspensions are not only to help fight the spread of the novel virus and encourage social distancing between drivers and passengers, but also to give residents a bit of a break and encourage ridership, which is dramatically down across the province.

The number of people taking the TTC each day has fallen by as much as 60 per cent as people in the city continue to socially isolate and work from home (or not work at all, if their employer is one of the many businesses that has had to close). Still, fare payments will continue to be taken as usual and enforcement officers will still be out.

The TTC has vowed to try and maintain as much service as possible for those who need it during this time, but necessary cuts to service may be considered in the coming weeks.

Lead photo by

Sahand Vafaee

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