People who rely on GO Transit, whether they're workers or university students heading home due to class cancellations, might want to start prepping. Metrolinx service cuts have been announced and they will bring reductions to both GO Train, GO Bus, and UP Express routes in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Starting on Wednesday, March 18, schedules will be revised to be in line with a reduced amount of ridership.
According to a statement released by Metrolinx on Friday evening, March 13, the move is intended to reflect expected reductions in ridership.
Per City News, Metrolinx expects the number of riders to plummet by 30-40%.*
The number of passengers on a day-to-day basis is expected to decline due to March Break, school closures, the change to work-from-home for many companies, and the official advice to practice social distancing.
“Our key consideration is ensuring our services can continue and our employees and customers are safe,” said Metrolinx President and CEO Phil Verster in the release.
“We want to ensure there is a reliable and sustainable plan for service to continue over the weeks to come.”
These changes will come into effect on Wednesday, March 18 and finalized schedules will be available to customers by Sunday, March 15 at noon.
Update on #COVID19: We are reducing GO train & bus service in continued support of provincial action and to keep o… https://t.co/iPkZfu5DSo— GO Transit (@GO Transit) 1584139324.0
Verster stressed that while reduced service will be in force, "every route we serve, we will continue to serve."
“Our customers will still get the same safe experience, our Transit Safety and customer service teams will continue to be available to help customers get where they need to go," added Verster.
"Our teams will also maintain the increased level of cleaning on our vehicles and stations,” says Verster via Metrolinx.
#BREAKING: Ridership expected to go down 30-40%, @Metrolinx says. Services to be cut starting Wednesday. More detai… https://t.co/Vp1AYgRmiz— Shallima Maharaj (@Shallima Maharaj) 1584135180.0
According to Global News' Shallima Maharaj, Verster insists the reductions will not translate into job losses or pay cuts for Metrolinx staff.
He clarified that some employees will merely be asked to stay at home and will be called in whenever they are needed, but that these reduced hours will not equal less pay.
Earlier on Friday, Ontario's chief medical officer of health had strongly recommended abandoning all gatherings of any kind of more than 250 people for the time being.
Later that day, Toronto's Dr. Eileen De Villa confirmed this recommendation did not apply to public transit, and that more clarification would arrive soon.
*This story has been updated.