OC Transpo asks riders to wear masks

OTTAWA – OC Transpo has a plan for recovery in the face of COVID-19 and it involves masks.

Transit Commission approved OC Transpo’s Transit Service Recovery Plan June 6, which is an integral part of the City of Ottawa’s roadmap for the recovery phase of the COVID-19 pandemic.

 “Two key points for customers in the report include the mandatory wearing of cloth masks on transit starting June 15, and a reminder to not use transit if you are sick,” city staff released in a statement.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, OC Transpo service was modified to reflect lower than usual ridership levels and to ensure an availability of staff resources in case of widespread illness. Adjustments have been made quickly to add trips or larger buses to maintain physical distancing onboard and to continue to provide essential services and serve all neighbourhoods. Numerous health and safety measures were put in place for both customers and staff beginning in March, including enhanced cleaning of vehicles, and facilities and rear-door boarding for most customers.

On April 27, the Province of Ontario announced a three-stage approach for reopening the Ontario economy. As the economy reopens, transit ridership in Ottawa will increase as workplaces, businesses, schools and other activities reopen.

“Transit service plays a foundational role in supporting the City of Ottawa’s economic recovery, by ensuring that people can travel between all parts of the city,” staff said. “OC Transpo’s recovery plan will accommodate the increase in ridership and will be adjusted through a multi-phased approach. Health and safety measures will be in place prior to the increase in ridership. The plan will be adjusted as Ottawa Public Health recommendations change and as the COVID-19 situation evolves.”

 Step 1: Current modified service to continue until Saturday, June 27 

OC Transpo will continue to provide the current modified service, which is approximately 60 per cent of usual weekday service, until June 27. Adjustments will continue to be made as required to enable physical distancing onboard and to provide for connections to essential services.

Step 2: Mask requirement and other measures to be put in place on Monday, June 15
  • In preparation for the increase in ridership and return to summer service levels, the following measures will be in place on Monday, June 15:
  • Customers and employees will be required to wear cloth masks or equivalent face coverings when entering buses, trains, stations and Para Transpo minibuses and contracted taxis.
  • In keeping with recommendations from the Province of Ontario, young children and people who have a disability or medical condition that prevents them from wearing a mask will not be required to wear one.
  • Customers can visit ottawapublichealth.ca for information on obtaining and/or making their own masks.
  • Front-door boarding will be reinstated, allowing more space for customers to practice physical distancing.
  • Barrier shields on bus operator cabs will be installed on all conventional buses by June 15.
  • Customers will be able to board at the front of the bus and will need to pay fares.
  • Hand sanitizer dispensers will be at all O-Train stations and most Transitway stations.
  • Enhanced daily cleaning of all transit vehicles, stations, and employee areas will be maintained.
  • Para Transpo operators will continue to wear surgical masks and face shields.
  • Para Transpo trips will continue to be limited to one customer per trip, as long as ridership levels are low enough that this does not result in customers being unaccommodated.
Step 3: Summer service to begin on Sunday, June 28
  • OC Transpo will implement summer service adjustments starting on Sunday, June 28, to coincide with the City’s planning horizon for the end of the emergency measures on July 1.
  •  All routes will be in service and will operate the same route network that was in place from January to March 2020.
  • School services will not operate.
  • Bus operations at Blair, Hurdman and Tunney’s Pasture stations will be controlled and closely monitored to ensure the flow of buses into these major transfer stations does not result in unhealthy overcrowding of waiting areas and platforms.
  • Bus stop reassignments planned for Blair and Place d’Orléans stations will be implemented on June 28 and will assist with reducing crowding and improving customer flow at those stations.
  • The Customer Service Centre (CSC) at Rideau Centre will reopen when it is possible, in order to provide in-person services for OC Transpo customers, including the intake of EquiPass, Community Pass and Access Pass applications, photos for discounted passes and other ID cards, and setting the discount or replacement of Presto cards.
Step 4: Fall service to begin on Sunday, Aug. 30
  • OC Transpo will implement fall service adjustments on August 30 to coincide with the start of the school year.
  • Transit service will follow the same route network that has been in place since January, and service frequencies and capacities will be similar to pre-COVID-19 winter service on most routes.
  • School services will operate, and full-service frequencies will be provided on routes serving post-secondary institutions. School service would be adjusted depending on the decisions of the Province, universities and colleges.
  • OC Transpo will plan for additional capacity to be available on standby in order to increase customer spacing as required.
  • OC Transpo will be closely monitoring updates to the Province of Ontario’s reopening plan and will make adjustments as required to accommodate ridership.

Visit octranspo.com for more information on OC Transpo’s transit services recovery plan.

For more information on City programs and services, visit ottawa.ca or call 3-1-1 (TTY: 613-580-2401).