Office of Councillor Jeff Leiper, Kitchissippi Ward, Ottawa | (613) 580-2485  |
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OC Transpo coronavirus update

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Please see the attached update that we received this afternoon from OC Transpo.

Mayor, Members of Council and Transit Commissioners

I am writing to inform you about the proactive steps we are taking throughout OC Transpo’s operations to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic and protect the safety of our operators and the customers who we serve.

Rear door boarding

Starting today, we are immediately implementing rear door boarding on all conventional buses. This has been instituted in other European Transit Agencies and is supported by our Union Leadership and Management as a prudent mitigation measure.

·      Customers with accessibility needs can continue to board at the front of the bus

·      All other customers must use the rear doors only

·      We are installing tape to separate the operator cab and accessible seating areas from the rest of the bus

·      Prominent signage will be placed at the front and rear doors to inform customers of the change

·      We will also be informing our customers of this change using all of our communications channels

·      We anticipate that this policy will result in some loss in revenue. We have prepared estimates that will be tracked for possible reimbursement if funding becomes available, in particular:

o   We will not be accepting cash fares or paper transfers from customers boarding at the rear of the bus; and,

o   Due to the configuration of some of the buses in our fleet, some customers will not be able to tap their Presto cards when they board.

·      We believe that the potential loss of revenue associated with this change in practice is a necessary cost to protect the safety of our staff and our customers.

Bus Operations

·      We have implemented enhanced cleaning of our conventional bus operator cabs, to include daily wipe downs with anti-viral disinfectant.

·      Customer areas will receive sanitizing on handrails, stanchion posts including stairwells as part of established cleaning schedules.

·      We are providing disinfectant for cleaning of non-revenue vehicles, such as Special Constables, supervisors, etc.

Rail Operations

·      Our contractors for both Line 1 and 2 have brought on additional cleaning staff and are committed to enhanced cleaning of both stations and rail vehicles. 

·      Every rail vehicle is going into service with every surface from floor to ceiling cleaned and disinfected, including operator cabs.

·      Rail vehicles will have every surface disinfected nightly.

·      As more resources become available, we will move to performing targeted cleaning of rail vehicles while in service. This will include wipe downs of surfaces that experience regular touching such as stanchions, hand straps and hand holds.

·      Cleaning of rail stations on Line 1 is also being enhanced with additional staff both day and night.

·      Overnight deep cleaning will focus on disinfecting all touched surfaces, including vending machines, handrails, doorknobs/handles, elevators, escalators, washrooms, glass and floors.

·      Additional resources are also being brought in to do daytime cleaning in stations with the target of cleaning high traffic areas in each station every eight hours.

Para Operations

·      The scheduled cleaning of Para Transpo vehicles is being enhanced to include daily sanitizing of the Operator area and the cleaning of common customer touch points such as handrails, windowsills, floors and ceilings within our passenger areas.

·      We are in contact with Ottawa’s taxi providers, who have advised that they are taking steps to increase cleaning and sanitizing of their vehicles, including those used to transport Para Transpo customers.

Customer Service Staff

·      Contact points with customers such as fare vending machines and counters are receiving enhanced cleaning with appropriate sanitizer products.


·       Posters have been placed at all OC Transpo Customer Service Centres and transit stations to remind customers to avoid taking transit if they are ill or have come into contact with someone who tested positive with COVID-19.

S1 service

·       As the situation evolves, we are closely monitoring our ridership numbers and actions being taken by other Canadian and international transit agencies. In response to ridership numbers, starting on Tuesday, we will end daily S1 service and redeploy those buses to support routes in the rest of the transit network. S1 service can be redeployed, should circumstances warrant.

We are taking this situation very seriously and working closely with the Office of Emergency Management, Ottawa Public Health and other City departments. The above steps are being actioned to help ensure the safety and health of our customers and staff.

I will continue to keep you informed as the situation evolves.

Posted March 16, 2020