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TTC plans to reduce service in November and December

The TTC released details about its “temporary November and December service plans”. It says its plans “are focused on protecting and maintaining scheduled service on the busiest routes after the next phase of the TTC’s mandatory COVID-19 vaccination policy comes into effect [November 21]”.

The transit agency explains in a news release that the new temporary schedules account for employees who will be ineligible to work due to being unvaccinated or for not disclosing vaccination status.

According to the release, “Key among the considerations that went into planning the upcoming temporary service was prioritizing the busiest routes at the busiest times of day - in particular on the bus network. The [November 21] schedules were planned to be reliable and predictable while protecting existing service on the TTC’s busiest bus routes corridors at the busiest times of day such as Wilson, Jane, Eglinton, Finch and Lawrence East, among others. Other routes will see varying levels of temporary service changes, in many cases similar to the seasonal changes made in the summer and in December. Scheduled waiting time changes will generally be minimal, and all changes will result in ridership levels that are within TTC service standards. All corridors will continue to operate over the same operating hours as now.”

Specifically, the TTC says, that to make sure that enough operators are available to match service with demand, it will:

  • Temporarily defer capital construction projects and cancel weekend and nightly early closures of the subway system, allowing it to redeploy shuttle-bus operators to regular service.
  • Continue to hire more new operators over the next several months.
  • Redeploy other qualified bus operators who are normally responsible for moving vehicles between divisions to regular service.
  • Invite recent retirees to return to the TTC on a temporary basis as it hires permanent replacements.

As of October 27, the TTC claims that 88 per cent of its 15,090 active employees have shared their COVID-19 vaccination status. In total, as many as 86 per cent of unionized and 94 per cent of non-unionized employees have shared their status, with the vast majority already fully vaccinated. It also explains that the number of passengers riding the TTC is about 50 per cent of pre-pandemic levels.

In the news release, the TTC’s chief executive officer, Rick Leary said: “I believe we have come up with a plan that is flexible and responsive. And if our staff numbers are better than expected as we get closer to the end of the day on Nov. 20, we can start replacing service reductions that may have been necessary. I stand firmly behind our vaccination policy. It is the right thing to do to protect the health and safety of our employees, their families and the communities we serve. I want to thank the vast majority of employees who have already received their COVID-19 vaccinations and would encourage everyone at the TTC to do so as soon as possible before the end of the day on Nov. 20.”

Carlos Santos, President of Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) Local 113, which represents close to 12,000 TTC workers, released this the TTC’s plan to cut service in November: “The TTC’s plan to cut public transit service in the wake of Toronto’s economic recovery is an avoidable mistake and a result of the TTC’s own mismanagement. Instead of working with the union, the TTC opted to bulldoze their mandatory disclosure policy through, causing a potential staff shortage. Instead of cutting service, the TTC should look at sensible alternatives that help protect workers and riders, such as regular testing for the small number of members who wish not to receive the vaccine. These sorts of measures have already been successfully executed in the cities of Brampton, Mississauga and Hamilton and can be safely adopted in Toronto as well.”