ttc mask

TTC tightens up mask rules for staff after customer complaints

Toronto's TTC is implementing more stringent face mask rules for its employees after numerous complaints from commuters who witnessed workers failing to abide by pandemic health and safety measures.

The transit agency was initially a little slow in even allowing its employees to don face coverings on the job, and then saw mass walkouts when it failed to provide personal protective equipment to those facing the public on a daily basis.

Up until now, there was no mask mandate for bus drivers or staff behind plexiglass barriers like there is for other workers and transitgoers, and it seemed that on top of those who simply weren't wearing masks when they should have been, some who did don the garment were not doing so correctly.

Under the new policies, which are effective today, anyone employed by the commission now has to have a mask on — and properly — while on TTC property in "shared" areas where others could be present, even while outdoors and when behind plexiglass.

The move was apparently inspired by a number of reasons — not only because so many staffers were busted without masks by residents, but because an internal audit that found a quarter of employees were "not respecting physical distancing guidelines" and gathering in large groups to chat.

According to a letter sent to staff this week and obtained by The Star, the audit at one point found zero percent employee compliance during not just one, but two inspections at a single station. 

A spike in new cases of COVID-19 across Ontario and in Toronto specifically is also a consideration, as is the fact that a number of workers serve in multiple different settings along TTC lines; wearing a mask in all of them just makes things easier.

Since the health crisis began, 77 members of the TTC have been infected with the virus. Meanwhile, hundreds of operators and riders are calling for a return to full transit service amid crowding concerns.

Transit in the city has been running at around 85 per cent of its usual capacity lately due to a massive drop in ridership, which still sits are less than 50 per cent of pre-COVID levels.

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