Nova Scotia

Halifax Transit bus not deep cleaned after driver tests positive for COVID-19: union

The head of the union representing Halifax Transit workers is critical of how the city is handling COVID-19 exposures on bus routes.

Union calls on city to step up COVID-19 precautions, suspend fares

Ken Wilson, president of the union local representing Halifax Transit workers, says he'd like to see the city take more precautions to keep drivers and passengers safe. (CBC)

The head of the union representing Halifax Transit workers is criticizing how the city is handling COVID-19 exposures on bus routes after a confirmed case involving a driver.

The driver tested positive for COVID-19 on Tuesday, but the bus she was driving continued to be on the road hours later, said Ken Wilson, president of the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 508.

"It went back out during rush hour without being deep cleaned," said Wilson. "It was apparently a mistaken number and they grabbed the wrong bus."

Wilson said he was concerned about three different buses, because the driver who tested positive was in close contact with two other operators.

Municipal officials told CBC News in an email they do not release specifics about any employee who tests positive. They added that Halifax Transit has increased the frequency of bus cleaning since the start of the pandemic.

Wilson said an improved cleaning protocol is not the only way to increase the safety of bus drivers and passengers.

The head of the transit union is asking for HRM to return to back-door loading and the suspension of fares on buses during the third wave of the pandemic. (Robert Short/CBC)

He suggested having passengers use the back door farther away from the driver, suspending fares, reducing the load limit on buses by 50 per cent, and offering on-site rapid testing for transit workers.

The municipality said ridership remains low with the busiest daily trip reaching only 43 per cent capacity. They said Public Health is responsible for testing sites.

Transit officials are now installing signs on alternate seats to encourage physical distancing.