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June 1st - OC Transpo Service Recovery Plan

Below are brief notes from OC Transpo's COVID-19 Transit Service Recovery Plan


Elements of The Plan

1. Keeping everyone as safe as possible

· Customers

· Staff

2. Service levels

· Summer service

· Fall service

· School services

· Looking forward

Prerequisites Before Ridership Returns

Increased space onboard

· Return to normal service levels system wide

· All routes in operation

· Ability for customers to use entire vehicle

· Return to front door boarding

Protective equipment to replace physical distancing

· Barrier shields

· Compulsory masks for everyone

Objectives of The Recovery Plan

· Provide transportation for everyone between all parts of the city;

· Support the city’s economic recovery;

· Integrated as part of the City’s roadmap for the recovery phase of the COVID-19 pandemic;

· Continue to provide transportation for essential workers and to essential services;

· Accommodate increasing ridership as workplaces, businesses, schools, and other activities reopen; and,

· Keep customers and staff as safe as possible.

Principles Guiding the Recovery Plan

· A rolling wave plan, to be adapted as conditions evolve;

· The plan has been developed based on industry associations’ best practices and research;

· The plan will be guided by federal and provincial guidelines, plans, policies, etc.

· The Medical Officer of Health has reviewed and supports the plan;

· City’s Equity and Inclusion Lens has been applied;

· If a second wave of COVID-19 comes, there could be a need to step back to physical distancing restrictions and reduced service; and,

· The Transit By-Law provides a framework to address a range of matters including respecting the health, safety and well-being of persons, and actions during an emergency situation.

City’s Roadmap to Recovery

Following the Province’s three-phase framework:

· Protect, restart, recover

The City’s work is grouped under five task teams:

· Human Needs

· Services

· People

· Finance

· Economic Recovery

Transit in This Pandemic

Across the world, transit remains an integral part of cities:

· Needed for transportation into downtowns and other busy areas;

· Needed for travel by people without other means; and,

· Needed for sustained economic activity and growth.

Across the world, transit has been adapting to public health directives:

· Physical distancing onboard while ridership has been very low;

· Enhanced cleaning;

· Reviewing all service aspects to reduce contact and touch points; and,

· Measures to keep customers and staff as safe as possible when ridership increases.

Physical Distancing Has Been Possible While Ridership Is Very Low

· Ridership has been at about 15-20% of usual levels;

· Service is at about 60% of usual levels;

· Results in approximately 4 times more space for each customer;

· Requiring most customers to board buses through the rear doors has enhanced safety for staff;

· Space is available as ridership returns to 20% of normal levels on trains and 40% on buses; and,

· Higher ridership will require more space and other protective measures.

Higher Ridership Requires Other Measures to Keep People as Safe As Possible

· Returning service to usual levels allows more space for customers;

· With regular service levels in place:

o Bus service will have space to accommodate up to 40 percent of usual ridership (2 to 3 times current ridership), with physical distancing in place; and,

o Line 1 trains will have space to accommodate up to 20 percent of usual ridership (+33% above current ridership), with physical distancing in place.

· Not feasible to maintain physical distancing when ridership returns to normal levels:

o Would need 4 to 6 times as many trains as usual;

o Would need 2 to 3 times as many buses as usual; and,

o Not possible to acquire, afford, maintain, or staff.

· Therefore, other means must be in place to assure safety.

“Hierarchy of Controls”

· Physical distancing —having people work or access the business from home; includes restructuring responsibilities to minimize the numbers of workers that need to be physically present

· Engineering controls —creating barriers between people or reconfiguring space

· Administrative controls —redistributing responsibilities to reduce contact between individuals, using technology to facilitate communication

· PPE —having people wear non-medical cloth masks


Potential Timeline for Recovery To Full Service

The Province has adopted a three-stage approach for reopening:

Stage 1

· Opening select workplaces that can meet current public health guidelines

· Allowing essential gatherings of a limited number of people

· Opening some outdoor spaces

Stage 2

· Opening more workplaces with significant mitigation plans

· Opening more public spaces

· Allowing some larger public gatherings

Stage 3

· Opening all workplaces responsibly

· Relaxing restrictions on public gathering

· Continued protections for vulnerable populations apply through all three stages; and,

· Many public agencies, including transit systems, are adopting a similar three-stage approach.

Current Transit Service

· Transit ridership in Ottawa was at 15% of usual levels from late March;

· A slight increase was observed in May; now at 20% of usual levels;

· The result of job losses, working from home, distance learning, reduced shopping, cancelled events;

· Transit service was reduced by about 50 percent at the end of March and has been adjusted and increased since; now at about 60 percent;

· Service adjustments created a reserve of transit staff to maintain service in case of widespread illness;

· Service has been provided continuously to all parts of the City; and,

· Includes service for essential workers and to essential services.

Keeping Everyone as Safe As Possible

1.Continue enhanced cleaning of buses, trains, and stations;

2.Barrier shields at operator cabs on buses;

3.Require customers and staff to wear non-medical cloth masks;

4.Mask and self-check signs;

5.Hand sanitizer dispensers at stations;

6.Control flow of buses into busy transfer stations;

7.Touch-free fare payment; and,

8.Increasing space onboard buses and trains.

Compulsory Masks Help Keep People Safe

· OPH recommending non-medical cloth masks or equivalent face covering where physical distancing cannot be maintained;

· The Province has recommended the use of a face covering when physical distancing and keeping two metres distance from others is challenging or not possible, such as for public transit;

· Masks retain respiratory secretions;

· Staff recommend that a non-medical cloth mask or equivalent face covering be required for all customers and staff on OC Transpo; and,

· Exceptions for children under 2 years old and for people who have a disability or medical condition that prevents them from wearing a mask.

· Customers to supply their own masks;

· The City’s Human Needs task team is working with OPH to ensure that masks will be accessible for everyone;

· For vulnerable groups, this would be by providing funding or supplying masks to non-profit organizations;

· OC Transpo is also exploring options with non-profit and other organizations to sell masks at stations; and,

· In the first week after June 15, OC Transpo will make a limited number of masks available for people who may have forgotten theirs.

Touch-free Fare Payment

Customers do not need to touch any equipment to pay a fare:

· On buses, customers tap Presto or U-Pass on card reader;

· Customers paying by cash drop coins and bills into the farebox and pick up a paper transfer from the printer;

· At O-Train stations, customers tap Presto card or other smartcard at fare gate;

· Presto cards can be loaded online or using the Presto mobile app; and,

· On Para Transpo, all fares can be prepaid using ParaPay.

o Limited requirement to touch equipment to purchase a fare at an O-Train station:

o Enhanced cleaning of touch screen, PIN pad, and other touch points on ticket machines; and,

o Higher limits by banks for tapping cards and smartphones have reduced the need to touch the PIN pad.

· Staff working to make Presto card use easier on Para Transpo;

· Staff working to allow credit and debit cards to be tapped on buses and at fare gates; and,

· Staff will encourage Metrolinx to provide virtual Presto cards on smartphones.

Increasing Space Onboard Buses and Trains

Allow customers to use the space now blocked off at the front of buses and the cab ends of trains:

· Requires other safety measures:

· Compulsory masks for customers, barrier shields for bus operator cabs.

Increase O-Train Line 1 train service:

· Requires 14th and 15th trains to be consistently provided by RTG; and,

· As per the rectification plan,15 trains are expected in service in August.

Buses and operators available to increase service on busy bus routes:

· Additional trips would be added where required by observed conditions; and,

· Made available by deferring planned service enhancements.

Space on Board Buses

· Front door boarding will be reinstated;

· Customers who use a Presto or U-Pass card should board at the rear doors of articulated and double-decker buses; and,

· Customers should leave the bus via the rear doors unless they require the accessibility features at the front door.

Service Plan

Service Plan for The Rest Of 2020

Step 1

Current modified service to continue until Saturday, June 27

· Approximately 60 percent of usual weekday service;

· No school services;

· Has proven to accommodate most customers at current very low ridership levels; and,

· Any substantial return to work or broadening of essential service definition would result in crowding above physical distancing recommendations.

Step 2

Health and safety measures in place starting on Monday, June 15

· Customers and employees will be required to wear non-medical cloth masks or equivalent face coverings on OC Transpo;

· Soft barrier shields will be installed on buses;

· Front-door boarding will be reinstated, allowing more space for customers to practice physical distancing;

· Hand sanitizer dispensers will be available at all O-Train stations and major Transitway stations;

· Para Transpo operators will continue to wear surgical masks and face shields until otherwise directed; and,

· Para Transpo trips will continue to be limited to one customer per trip, contingent on low ridership levels.

Step 3

Summer service to begin on Sunday, June 28

All routes in operation:

· Same route network as was operated January-March 2020;

· Including adjustments that were made after Line 1 opening; and,

· Includes Line 2 replacement buses and Rideau Street detours.

Normal summer service is approximately 95 percent of pre-COVID-19 service levels:

· Reduced frequencies on busy routes;

· Reduced frequencies on routes serving universities and colleges; and,

· No school service.

Recommended to start on Sunday, June 28:

· Based on City’s planning horizon date of Wednesday, July 1.

Operate event service as decisions are made:

· Redblacks, CTC events, others.

Step 4

Fall service to begin on Sunday, August 30

All routes in operation

· Same route network as was operated January-March 2020;

· Including adjustments that were made after Line 1 opening; and,

· –ncludes Line 2 replacement buses and Rideau Street detours.

Recommended fall service is similar to pre-COVID-19 service levels

· Similar frequencies and capacity as summer service on most routes;

· Includes school services; and,

· Full frequencies on routes serving universities and colleges.

Assume 15 trains available to increase customer spacing on Line 1

· Also, reintroduce R1 standby buses to protect Line 1 service.

Recommended to start on Sunday, August 30

· Based on planned first day of school of Monday, August 31.

Recommending deferring service enhancements

· New routes and route changes proposed by Councillors; and,

· Allows resources to be used to increase service where required for spacing.


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©2019 by Jan Harder.