Essential trips only

A transit rider in Thunder Bay enters a bus at the city hall hub on Thursday. Transit users are asked to only use buses for essential trips.

The union representing Thunder Bay’s transit drivers is asking the public to not use transit unless necessary.

The plea to the community is the result of people crowding transit buses after the City of Thunder waived fees last week and asked riders to use the backdoor to both enter and exit the bus as safety precautions in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The concern is really not only for our drivers but for the public,” said Ken Koza, president of the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 966. “If you don’t have to use the bus, we’re asking you not to use it. We’re out there trying to provide an essential service to get people that really need to get somewhere, whether it be a job or that’s the only way they’re able to get groceries.”

Koza said they just want the community to follow the procedures put in place.

Individuals have been taking advantage of the free fares and Koza said they can’t control or even necessarily see who gets on the bus with everyone using the backdoor.

“They’re trying to maintain a safe distance from everyone that’s riding the bus,” he said.

Ideas like limiting the number of people on a bus at once have been floated around, but Koza said there is no one to enforce a measure like that.

So they’re relying on the public to heed their message.

“We need everyone to do their part,” he said. “We’re waiving the fee for transit, you’re getting in and out of the backdoor. We’ve got signs for social distancing. We’re just asking everyone that normally uses transit that they’re just using it for essential purposes.”

(Originally published March 27, 2020)

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