Face masks mandatory as Transit Windsor launches recovery plan
WINDSOR, ONT. -- Transit Windsor is implementing a recovery plan as ridership slowly increases during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Windsor officials say as businesses and workplaces reopen in the city, the demand for transit service may increase.
On numerous occasions, transit rider Kristina Bolton says she has been waiting at her stop as a bus passed by — already at the 10 rider limit.
“I had two go by me within five minutes and I had to wait an hour for another one and it was really frustrating,” she said.
It’s one of the reasons behind the recovery plan, which includes relaxing physical distancing measures by allowing 20 people per bus and making masks mandatory.
“We’ve decided administratively it was a good move for us to do to ensure the safety of our riders as well as our staff,” Transit Windsor executive director Pat Delmore said.
Transit users are on board with the new policy.
“It’s for our own good and for the protection of everybody,” said Princess Ololade Oladineji.
Riders under two and those with disabilities or medical conditions are exempt, and the space directly behind the driver will still be blocked off to passengers.
“It’s good. It’s good, just as the government advises us, that we should be wearing the mask to prevent the spread of COVID-19,” transit rider Abdul Kehinde said.
Overall ridership is currently about 83 per cent lower than pre-pandemic levels, and since the restart of operations in early May, Transit Windsor has continuously reviewed and adapted service delivery in response to operational demands.
“People want more service, people want to be able to transit more, and we’re doing everything we can to get it back built up,” Delmore said.
Additional routes and busses have also been added to accommodate the modest increase in ridership over the past two months.
The Ontario Ministry of Transportation has recently published detailed guidelines for public transit systems, and Windsor officials say they are committed to adhering to these best practices.
The Ontario government and the Windsor-Essex County Health Unit recommend that anyone travelling on public transit wear a non-medical mask where physical distancing is hard to maintain.
Effective immediately, it will be mandatory for Transit Windsor riders to wear a non-medical mask on buses, as well as at the Windsor International Transit Terminal.
Exemptions will be for children under the age of two and persons with disabilities or medical conditions that prevent a person from wearing a facemask.
With the requirement to wear a non-medical mask, Transit Windsor will remove some of the social distancing signs from seats, returning the busses to near normal capacity.
Only the front area behind the driver, which is reserved for a wheelchair/person with a disability, will remain closed to other riders. Once a bus reaches 20 passengers, a sign will be displayed indicating “Sorry the bus is full” and will pass normal stops. When possible, an additional bus will be inserted into service.
Resumption of South Windsor 7 Route
In order to address rider service needs, effective Monday, July 13, the South Windsor 7 route will resume a “Saturday” schedule, Monday through Saturday. Transit users are reminded to check the website for all schedule information.
Effective Sunday, July 12, the Windsor International Transit Terminal will be open in anticipation of Transit Windsor’s return to front door boarding and fare collection. Smart Cards can be reloaded and new Smart Rides can be purchased to avoid lengthy lines. Smart Cards are not active until the first tap of the farebox and will remain valid until that time. Please visit www.transitwindsor.ca for further details on operating hours and Smart Cards.
Officials say they will provide notice when a date for a return to a paid service is set.