Guidelines to resuming transit safely and with public confidence
As economic and social activity increase and more people take public transit, many transit systems are looking for advice on how to safely return to service levels that are closer to normal. To help, CUTA has prepared these guidelines and will update them regularly as public health advice evolves.
Transit systems responded quickly and ably as the outbreak began to protect passengers and employees, while providing critical mobility services for essential workers. Even at the height of the first, and hopefully last, wave of the pandemic, we served about a million people every day. Thanks to our responsiveness, like that of transit systems around the world, public transit was not a significant spreader of Coronavirus. We’ve developed these guidelines to help transit systems keep operating safely in the new normal.
Public transit is essential to cities. We are a vital enabler of economic and social activity. But unlike other areas of urban life, transit vehicles don’t lend themselves to the social distancing rules that are now ubiquitous in our every day lives. Transit systems face unique challenges and to help them keep passengers and employees healthy, we encourage systems to adopt these guidelines in conjunction with local public health advice.
At the time of writing (in June), we are seeing ridership increase. Buses are running at about 65% of pre-pandemic levels with about 15% of pre-COVID ridership. Rail is running at about 80%, with about 10% of the riders. But what will it take for more people to return?
In April, Abacus Data asked Canadians that very question. As you’d expect, about a quarter say they won’t return until there’s a vaccine. This was corroborated by a University of Toronto study. A very small number are unconcerned, but almost 70% say they will need a combination of mask-wearing, lower passenger levels to allow some degree of distancing—and trust that the transit system is doing the right thing.
We hope these guidelines help you continue doing just that and will be updating them regularly. On behalf of transit riders, thanks for the work you’ve done already to keep passengers and employees safe—and thanks in advance for the work we know you’ll continue to do.
- Health and wellbeing of passengers and employees is paramount
- Maintaining social distancing aboard public transit is challenging
- Cities depend on mass transit, which is an essential service
- Transit systems should use these guidelines in conjunction with advice from local public health authorities to develop plans best suited to local conditions
CUTA’s Technical Services Advisory Committee will regularly review relevant issues and practices as it updates the guidelines.