The TTC will no longer accept payment by cash, youth and senior TTC tickets or tokens on its buses starting on Tuesday, amid the COVID-19 outbreak.
TTC spokesperson Stuart Green said bus riders will be asked to pay by Presto fare cards or by Presto tickets, which can be purchased at machines inside subway stations. This change doesn’t apply to Wheels-Trans vehicles.
As well, bus riders will be asked to board and exit buses using the rear doors starting on Tuesday, unless they have mobility issues and the accessible ramp needs to be deployed. Fare boxes will be out of service.
This change means only people with mobility issues will be allowed to use the front doors of buses, he said.
Green said Amalgamated Transit Union Local 113, which represents TTC workers, asked for the changes to allow for greater social distancing on buses.
“This is something that our operators had asked for,” Green told CBC Toronto on Monday night. “It will give our operators an extra layer of security and comfort.”
The rear boarding and exiting means there will be much less contact with the bus driver, he added.
TTC CEO Rick Leary said in a news release on Monday: “This move is being made to prioritize the health and safety of our employees and customers. We continue to focus on physical distancing, social equity and ensuring we match capacity to demand.”
Bus drivers have been instructed to keep their protective barriers or shields closed at all times, according to a TTC news release on Monday.
Green noted that 93 per cent of all trips on the TTC are currently paid for by Presto products, which includes Presto fare cards, monthly passes, tickets and 12-month passes.
He said ridership has dropped significantly over the past week. Based on a normal weekday in March, ridership is down about 72 per cent, according to daily Presto taps, he said.
But there are still 400,000 trips per day being taken on the TTC, he said.
“We are still running services. We are maintaining 90 per cent of the service,” he added.
In the news release, the TTC said it is closely monitoring ridership and service trends daily and reviewing staffing and resources to match service delivery with availability.
“While the TTC continues to move a substantial number of people across the system each day, customer travel patterns are changing and ridership is declining,” the TTC said.
Due to changing travel patterns, the TTC has announced it is suspending all 900 series express routes, except for the 900 Airport Express, 903 Kennedy-Scarborough Centre Express and 927 Highway 27 Express.
The TTC said it also suspending all 140-series Downtown express routes, the 176 Mimico GO and 508 Lake Shore streetcar route.
“Regular bus services will continue to run along Express routes that are suspended, with the majority of service operating every 10 minutes or better. All neighbourhoods continue to be served and additional buses will be operated where and when required,” the TTC said.
Riders were told to expect “some prediction irregularity” to occur while the changes are being made.
In addition to these changes, the TTC said the deadline for riders to cancel their April monthly passes as part of their “12 Month Plan” has been extended until Friday, March 27 at 11:59 p.m. Cancellation fees have been waived.
The transit agency said it understands that the needs of riders may have changed. Riders simply need to go online and log into their My Presto accounts to cancel.