Calgary Transit to start asking people to board buses at rear door due to COVID-19

A Calgary Transit bus pictured on Feb. 20, 2020. Global News

Calgary Transit said Wednesday that it will start asking passengers to board buses at the rear door on Friday due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The transit service said the move is aimed at protecting the “health, safety and wellness of citizens and employees” and will reduce the number of interactions and increase physical distance between operators and customers.

People who require accessible boarding can still board buses at the front, the transit service said.

“Through this difficult time, we thank Calgarians for being honest and paying their fares,” said Russell Davies, acting director of Calgary Transit.

“This is an honour-system approach. Let’s come together as a community to keep our city safe.”

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Calgary Transit asked customers to rip up single-use tickets after rear boarding and to buy tickets using machines when possible.

The union representing Calgary Transit bus drivers said the changes were something it had been asking for.

Amalgamated Transit Union president Mike Maher said the new changes are for the safety of all operators.

“Obviously, some [drivers] are very concerned because they may have an immune system that’s suppressed, or they’re going home to their family, so they’re very, very worried,” Maher said Thursday.
“[This] way there’s no interaction with the operators at a close distance, and [we can] maintain that social distancing as [much as] possible.”

Maher said the union is also asking for sanitizing kits that would be available to all drivers, and it is something it’s working on with Calgary Transit.

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“We’ve asked for kits the operators can carry with [them] to sanitize their station… the bus driver gets off and has to go into facilities and come out and make sure they’re not contaminating their own work area,” Maher said.

According to the union, ridership on transit buses is already seeing a 60 to 70 per cent drop. There are talks of reducing the frequency of buses, Maher said.

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Mayor Naheed Nenshi also stated the city won’t be reducing hours of transit service, for now.

“Not yet. Certainly, that is something we may have to do if we don’t have the staff to drive the buses or to manage the maintenance… for now, people rely on that service,” he said. “If there’s only two people on a bus at a given time, they’re on the bus because they have to go to work.”

CTA to limit passengers

Calgary Transit Access will begin restricting the number of passengers inside its vehicles to two people.

“By limiting the number of shared rides for registered customers with disabilities who cannot take Calgary Transit, we can keep our commitment of customer safety by helping reduce contact between customers,” the transit service said.

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During the pandemic, CTA said it has seen a decrease in trip requests, so it anticipates that there will not be a service impact with the “temporary passenger limit.”

Cleaning measures, shared responsibility

Calgary Transit said enhanced cleaning measures have been implemented for all vehicles, adding that keeping a clean transportation system is a shared responsibility.

“Anti-bacterial and anti-viral agents are being used to disinfect all high-touch areas on board vehicles like grab bars, seats and other areas that are frequently touched by operators or customers,” the transit service said.

“Vehicle cleaning adheres to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines.”

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