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Passenger Trains > Toronto transit agency bans employee carpools; union cries foul

Date: 01/09/21 22:50
Toronto transit agency bans employee carpools; union cries foul
Author: GenePoon

TTC tells employees not to carpool. Union accuses agency of hypocrisy over COVID-19 guidance

Toronto Star

By Ben Spurr, Transportation Reporte

Thu., Jan. 7, 2021

  The TTC is directing its employees not to carpool to work, even as it assures the public its transit vehicles are safe during the pandemic. The transit workers’ union is accusing the transit agency of hypocrisy. But health experts say the directive for workers not to hitch a ride together is backed by evidence.

 In a notice dated Jan. 5, the TTC said it’s “advising all employees to avoid carpooling to work” in order to stop the spread of COVID-19.

 Workers who have no alternative are instructed to not have more than two people in their vehicle, sit as far apart as possible, and wear masks.

 Starting Jan. 18, employee vehicles arriving at TTC properties carrying more than two people will be stopped and occupants will be required to provide their employee information, including name and badge number, according to the notice.

 “Those who fail to follow the safety protocols will not be permitted to enter TTC premises,” it said.

 Amalgamated Transit Union Local 113, which represents nearly 12,000 TTC workers, said in a statement Wednesday the transit agency “shouldn’t be lecturing us about carpooling, especially when overcrowding on buses persists across the system.”

 “It’s completely ridiculous,” said Local 113 president Carlos Santos in an interview. “You don’t want two members that work in the same location that are wearing masks in their vehicle together, but it’s okay for a bus to go by with 50 people on there?”

 TTC spokesperson Stuart Green said the agency is instituting the policy, in part, because carpooling “has led to increased self-isolations” among employees after workers who shared a ride to work tested positive for COVID-19.

 Green said there’s no contradiction between discouraging employees from carpooling while encouraging the public to ride transit.

 The TTC has acknowledged for months that, even when its buses, streetcars, and subways aren’t at capacity, it’s difficult for riders to stay the recommended two metres apart.

 Green said, “as public health officials have repeated over the past 10 months, transit, in and of itself, does not pose increased risk when basic guidelines are followed, such as keeping as much distance as possible, covering your face and staying home if you are sick.”

 “There remain no links between TTC use and infections,” he added.

 Although there is little evidence linking the spread of COVID-19 to transit, some experts believe that’s a result of loopholes in contact-tracing and is not proof the virus isn’t spreading on vehicles.

 Toronto Public Health’s guidance for employers doesn’t recommend telling employees not to carpool. The health authority says workers who ride together should be directed to limit the number of passengers, not ride with anyone if they feel sick, and follow the same guidelines as for taxi and ride-hailing drivers. That includes occupants washing their hands and covering their faces if they cough.

 Thomas Tenkate, director of the School of Occupational & Public Health at Ryerson University, said that, while the TTC’s carpooling policy might seem contradictory, the agency appears to be taking a reasonable approach of minimizing unnecessary risks, while keeping the transit system running.

 Although the TTC has a responsibility to institute precautions to prevent the spread of COVID-19 transmission on the transit system, it won’t be able to completely eradicate crowding on its vehicles, Tenkate said. But transit needs to remain operational to allow employees in essential sectors to get to work, and for other residents to make important trips. On the other hand, most employees can find alternatives to carpooling, so it should be avoided if possible.

 “I understand why people might say this (carpooling policy) is conflicting, but I also think that, for me, it does make sense,” Tenkate said. “Let’s manage the risks that we can, as best as we can.”

 He said sharing a car with someone not in your household is “not a great idea,” particularly as COVID-19 cases spike. “You’re in a closed, indoor environment with pretty close contact” and there is a risk of spreading the virus.

 Local 113 is also pushing the TTC to reintroduce anti-COVID-19 measures instituted on buses during the first wave of the virus last spring, when daily case counts and transit ridership were much lower than today.

 The measures included prohibiting riders from boarding at the front doors, suspending the collection of cash fares, and blocking off seats behind drivers.

 Green said the TTC has no plans to reinstate the earlier measures, which he said were put in place “out of an abundance of caution when less was known about the virus.” He said the agency’s policies are guided by consultation with public health officials, and, since the Spring, the TTC has taken other effective precautions, such as making masks mandatory for passengers and employees.

 According to Green, about 97 per cent of riders comply.

 As of Jan. 6, 335 of the TTC’s 16,000 employees have tested positive for COVID-19. On Jan. 1, the agency announced the first death among its workforce related to the virus.


Date: 01/09/21 23:16
Re: Toronto transit agency bans employee carpools; union cries fo
Author: 41bridge

Quickest solution: have passenger get out of car a block away and walk in. Too much bureaucracy.

Date: 01/09/21 23:22
Re: Toronto transit agency bans employee carpools; union cries fo
Author: goduckies

Common sense

Posted from Android

Date: 01/09/21 23:37
Re: Toronto transit agency bans employee carpools; union cries fo
Author: cchan006

41bridge Wrote:
> Quickest solution: have passenger get out of car a
> block away and walk in. Too much bureaucracy.

Better solution: provide incentives to discourage carpooling. One factor in carpooling is to save fuel costs, isn't it? Since the union is involved, union reps can get some "credit" for doing this. Consider it a form of "hazard pay."

Date: 01/10/21 07:26
Re: Toronto transit agency bans employee carpools; union cries fo
Author: engineerinvirginia

This whole situation and it's overlapping rules is going to put us all in such a bind that we cannot do anything without running afoul of some rule or another!

Date: 01/10/21 08:35
Re: Toronto transit agency bans employee carpools; union cries fo
Author: robj

What  I read it,  was not a case of people becoming sick but having to quarantine after riding with someone who has to quarantine.??

Anyway unintended consequences.  Employees will try to evade the rule.  Then they will not contact trace since they don't want to lose job.
Not sure of Canada but what I read antedotaly in Illinois is there is a lot of resistance to contact tracing,  one reason the CDC was thinking of reducing
quarantine time to 7-10 days.

"Common sense."  Yes unless you don't have an extra car, finances are tight or you were assigned to a distant location and have to drive cross town.

Anyway as pointed out I think it is interesting to tell travelling public it is safe to ride with a bus load of strangers but not one or two people you know.


Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 01/10/21 08:42 by robj.

Date: 01/10/21 09:32
Re: Toronto transit agency bans employee carpools; union cries fo
Author: SN711

But that person you know and trust in your car can still be unknowingly positive.

Yes, I know some carpooling employees at another agency that did pass on the virus.


Posted from iPhone

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