WINDSOR, ONT. -- Passengers will once again board Transit Windsor using the front doors and fare collection will resume after nearly seven months due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Front door use will resume on Monday, Oct. 19. Protective barriers are being installed on all Transit Windsor busses for employee safety while maintaining sightlines and visibility for drivers.

“I’m pleased that we are able to now balance the risks associated with COVID-19 with running Transit Windsor service across the City of Windsor,” said Windsor Mayor Drew Dilkens in a news release. “Municipalities across the country have taken significant losses, operating transit services without collecting fares for more than 6 months. We are counting on the Province of Ontario and Federal Government to help support Transit Windsor in the months ahead. In the meantime, we are restarting fare collection and continuing to offer services across our City and into the County.”

The City of Windsor says passengers will be asked to follow a one-way flow, boarding through the front of the bus and exiting through the rear doors. Exceptions will be made for those with mobility issues to exist at the front.

Effective Monday, Oct. 19 fare collection will also resume. Riders are encouraged to re-load Transit Windsor Smart Cards at the Windsor International Transit Terminal or Transit Centre.

The city says Transit Windsor leadership has been participating in province-wide working groups and forums to implement standards to return to front door boarding.

A mandatory mask policy will continue to be in effect on buses indefinitely and capacity limitation will also continue to allow for social distancing. Transit Windsor will continue to operate on an enhanced Saturday schedule Monday through Saturday but Sunday service on Sunday.

The city says ridership has remained significantly lower than pre-pandemic levels over the past several months. During September, ridership was down by about 60 per cent compared to last year.

The province announced $6.3 million for Transit Windsor to help recover costs associated with pandemic operations and announced an application based second round of funding for public transit. Applications are due later this year and could offer additional funds to Transit Windsor for requirements connected to the pandemic.

An update of Transit Windsor’s current schedule and policies is available on its website.