Calgary

Calgary Transit may soon ask riders to enter through rear door of buses

Calgary Transit may ask riders to enter buses through the rear door in order to reduce contact with drivers.

Move is meant to reduce contact with drivers and could mean relaxation on fares

Calgary Transit wants bus passengers to get on through the back door in order to reduce contact during the pandemic. (Mike Symington/CBC)

Calgary Transit may soon ask riders to enter buses through the rear door in order to reduce contact with drivers, according to the head of the union that represents transit workers. 

"By coming on the back door, we're hoping that we can have a zone of a number of feet between the operator and riding public," said Mike Mahar of the Amalgamated Transit Union. 

He said discussions with Calgary Transit about rear entry started last week and he hopes to see the policy implemented by the end of the week as the COVID-19 virus spreads. 

Calgary Transit fleet manager Russell Davies told media Tuesday that riders on airport buses will be instructed to enter from the back door, not the front, starting Tuesday night and that Transit will consider expanding the measure to more buses.

Fare payments

It's something that's already happening in Ottawa, where fare requirements have been waived. 

While Mahar says he hasn't had any conversations about easing fares here, there are no pay options at the back of the bus. 

"I think that that would imply some relaxation on fare collection," he said. 

What's not being considered is a reduction in services, according to Mahar, in order to avoid overcrowding on the remaining buses. 

That's been raised as an issue in Edmonton, where the frequency of buses was reduced due to declining ridership brought on by the pandemic. 

Stressful time

So how are drivers faring in the midst of the crisis?

"A lot of them are finding it very stressful, for sure, and they're not just worried about themselves. In fact, most of the conversations, that's kind of secondary — they're worried about going home," said Mahar. 

"You know, if they pick up something and they don't know it and they go home and now they're with their kids and their spouses and the rest of their families. They're worried about putting them at risk. So it's pretty stressful."

One Calgary Transit worker, a training officer, has been diagnosed with COVID-19. Twenty-seven people who were in touch with that employee have been asked to self-isolate, according to Davies. 

The City of Calgary did not immediately respond to CBC News for comment. 

With files from Scott Dippel

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