OC Transpo, STO bring in changes due to COVID-19
Most passengers will board through rear doors only
Transit agencies in both Ottawa and Gatineau are making some changes in an effort to help limit the spread of COVID-19 on their buses and trains.
According to a memo sent Monday by OC Transpo boss John Manconi, only passengers with accessibility needs will be allowed to board buses through the front door. All other passengers must board through the rear door.
Tape will separate the driver and accessible seating area from the rest of the bus.
Manconi said OC Transpo anticipates that will result in lost revenue because some buses won't allow customers to tap their Presto cards at the rear, nor will they be able to pay with cash or paper transfers.
"We believe the potential loss of revenue associated with this change in practice is a necessary cost to protect the safety of our staff and our customers," Manconi said.
In Gatineau, the Société de transport de l'Outaouais (STO) announced it was taking similar steps, asking passengers without mobility issues to board and disembark from the rear doors only.
Drivers will also not be accepting cash, the STO said.
Stepping up cleaning
The City of Ottawa will also be stepping up cleaning on buses and LRT trains, including daily wipe downs with an antiviral disinfectant.
That's what other cities including Toronto, Montreal and Kingston have been doing for some time.
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Manconi said additional staff have been hired to carry out the extra cleaning. The goal is to have high-traffic areas cleaned every eight hours. Surfaces including handrails on LRT trains will be cleaned nightly.
There will also be more cleaning of Para Transpo vehicles, including daily sanitizing of both driver and passenger areas.
In addition, OC Transpo said it's cancelling all S1 buses as of Tuesday due to changes in ridership numbers. The supplementary bus service was brought on certain routes to bolster LRT service.
The memo didn't say how long the changes will be in effect.