ttc vaccine mandate

Toronto is furious about transit delays blamed on controversial TTC vaccine mandate

The TTC's vaccine mandate has been in effect for less than a month, and with many employees refusing to get the jab, Toronto transit riders are already suffering the consequences with long delays and wait times.

The transit agency's September-issued vaccination mandate gave employees an Oct. 30 deadline for complete inoculation, which has come and gone with many in the TTC stubbornly opting out of immunization for whatever misguided reasons. A few weeks later, these employees were placed on leave.

"TTC employees who remain unvaccinated or refuse to disclose their vaccination status by end of day today will be placed on leave," the transit agency said on Nov. 20. As of that date, "roughly 90 per cent of the agency's 15,061 active employees have shared their COVID-19 vaccination status."

In mid-November, the TTC acknowledged that service cuts would be necessary due to staff shortages, which have been plaguing commutes and drawing angry protests since the start of the week.

It was stated that the cuts would affect service on one subway line and 58 surface routes (including a streetcar line) starting on Nov. 22, but Toronto riders are getting more than they bargained for, including long waits on routes that were supposedly not expecting longer wait times.

Toronto Councillor Josh Matlow shared a painful 32-minute wait time for the next 506 College streetcar during the evening rush, which is not one of the routes where riders were expecting service cuts.

A similar situation was unfolding below ground, where subway passengers were waiting longer than expected at College Station on Line 1. Service cuts were announced for the Line 2 Bloor-Danforth, but commute times are supposed to be more or less normal on Line 1.

Service cuts due to vaccine policy aren't the only thing increasing your TTC wait time these days, and glitches in the subway's 'next train' indicators are being blamed on the recent ransomware attack that had sweeping consequences for the transit agency.

Whatever the cause, delays across the system are raising worries about overcrowding, as the province flirts with a new wave of the pandemic, a holiday uptick in cases expected by officials.

Public transit advocacy group TTC Riders is asking frustrated passengers to take their concerns to the decision-makers above.

Most are just taking their concerns to social media, though. Long waits and unexpected delays on the TTC have become an accepted part of life in Toronto, and many are simply resigned to the fact that the system is unreliable.

One frustrated Twitter user says, "I never hear any service announcements or see transit enforcement. Staff are short-tempered and shambolic despite riders being generally well behaved. It's a wreck."

Riders aren't the only ones complaining. Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) Local 113 has been fighting the vaccine policy it calls "punitive" for months now.

In his latest figurative jab arguing against the literal jab, ATU 113 President Carlos Santos took another swing at the TTC CEO, saying, "As Rick Leary continues to attack our members and tries to eliminate union jobs that play a critical role in transit safety, ATU Local 113 will never stop fighting for you."

Lead photo by

Jack Landau

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