Some subway riders in Toronto will wait up to eight minutes for their next train from Monday, while service on dozens of bus routes across the city will be reduced or even completely suspended.
The changes are among a number of service cuts that TTC says it has been forced to make due to staff shortages triggered by its staff vaccine mandate, which takes effect this weekend.
The Agency is convinced that the reductions are temporary. But with the transit system facing serious long-term economic challenges due to lower passenger numbers under COVID-19, some proponents of public transport worry that the cuts will lay the groundwork for permanent service downgrades that will make life harder for workers, students and vulnerable residents who trusts TTC.
The changes begin Sunday and affect Subway Line 2 (Bloor-Danforth), 57 bus routes and a tram line. According to the TTC, they correspond to a system-wide reduction of about eight percent compared to the month before.
TTC spokesman Hayley Waldman said the busiest routes will “continue to be prioritized and protected”, and defended the trimmed service as needed in the short term.
“TTC has shown throughout the pandemic that it remains reliable for the customers who are most dependent on us,” she said. “We have repeatedly shown that we are there for our customers and we look forward to increasing the service as soon as the operators become available.”
Under TTC’s vaccine policy, workers who have not provided proof of inoculation against COVID-19 by the end of the day on Saturday will be put on unpaid leave. Those who do not comply by December 31 will be fired.
About 85 percent of TTC’s more than 15,000 employees are fully vaccinated, according to the agency. It would leave about 2,000 workers who could soon have time off.
The TTC has been signaling for more than a month that the implementation of the mandate would require it to scale down the service, but did not release details until this week.
The service on line 2 will be reduced in all weekday periods, and the waiting time in the evening will grow from every 6 to 7 minutes to every 8 minutes, a level of scheduled frequency not seen in the subway since the recession of the 1990s.
Some bus routes will only be added a minute or two to the vehicle’s propulsion, but others will experience significant increases in waiting times during some service periods. The time between buses on route 10 Van Horne will triple in the afternoon peak period to, for example, every 30 minutes.
Two routes on which TTC cuts service, 41 Keele and 102 Markham, were among a handful of lines the agency added buses early in the pandemic because they experienced significant congestion. Service on both routes used by industrial workers and low-income riders in the northern corners of Toronto will be reduced in all weekdays next week.
Operations on eight express bus routes will also be temporarily suspended for some periods and canceled directly on the 938 Highland Creek Express.
The new schedules will be carried over to December with only minor adjustments, the TTC said.
Joshua Hind, a 43-year-old theater worker, said he only recently began taking TTC subway and bus routes again from his home in East York to his job in the center of Front and Sherbourne Streets, and the service already seemed less reliable than before. pandemic.
He said he is sometimes reluctant to drive in overcrowded vehicles with other passengers, some of whom do not follow the masking rules, and the prospect of further cuts makes him consider abandoning the TTC and trying to cycle through the winter for the first time.
“How much extra time do I have to build in (for my commute) when I am forced to rely on an unreliable transit system?” he asked.
TTCriders, an advocate group for transit, said in a statement that the service cuts represent “a total failure of management from all levels of government” and “will cause chaos for working people who depend on TTC every day to get to work, school and groceries. . ”
The group said the cuts “could permanently drive some transit users away at a time when Toronto should do everything to win back riders,” and warned of “long-term negative consequences” for traffic jams and the climate.
TTCriders urged all levels of government to expand funding for emergency transit to help fill what the city has estimated could be a $ 800 million deficit at TTC next year, and demanded Mayor John Tory force TTC to postpone enforcement of the employee vaccine deadline so the agency can take on a hiring flash.
Amalgamated Transit Union Local 113 is fighting against the vaccine mandate and is due in court on Wednesday seeks an injunction against this. In a statement, local 113 president Carlos Santos warned that declining service was an “avoidable mistake” that “will hurt both riders and workers.”
According to the latest figures provided by the TTC, the daily number of passengers as of October 8 was about 46 percent of the pre-pandemic level, and the agency was scheduled to implement about 98 percent of the regular service.
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