GRT Operations Q & A on Covid-19
April 17, 2020
Why are you reducing service on April 20th, 2020?
Regular bus service during the week is not sustainable at this time. Boardings
on GRT buses and trains have dropped to about 30% of normal as a result of the
pandemic. There are also increasing staff shortages in the workplace because
staff are calling in sick or self-isolating. This has made it more difficult to deliver
With no longer charging fares, reduced ridership and public interactions, the
customer service centers have closed
Are staff being laid off?
The reduced level of transit service and the closing of the customer service
centers will result in approximately 110 GRT employees being either temporarily
laid off or provided with redeployment opportunities.
Most positions affected are part-time Operators in Conventional Operations and
MobilityPLUS as well as employees working in Customer Service.
Are there plans for further reductions or layoffs?
We continue to monitor boardings and will report back to Regional Council again
in May. Service plans for late spring / summer will be finalized in early May.
Therefore it’s premature to determine if more layoffs will be required.
When will service increase again?
We do not have a date for when service will increase at this time.
Why did we implement free service?
Free fares reduce confusion and with the implementation of boarding from
the rear of the bus, we are unable to collect fares and customers are unable
to tap their fare cards.
We recognize that many people are struggling financially right now due to
the effects of COVID-19 for free fares still allows for those with essential
travel needs to get around.
When will the free service end?
Free fares will be reviewed again before the end of May.
Has free service caused an increase in boardings on the buses and trains?
Measures to limit physical interactions have greatly affected residents normal
travel behaviours in our community and decreased ridership.
Most transit travel is for essential trips only and which we strongly encourage.
Some enforcement measures have been necessary for customers who are joy
riding or travelling for trips that are not essential. This will continue.
How are we addressing joyriding?
If you run into to this issue where a customer is joyriding, please call your Supervisor
and they assist you in dealing with the issue. Points to remember:
Supervisors will try to keep bus moving
• Keeping buses moving as a rule deescalates issues.
Supervisors will arrange to meet bus on route likely with Security or another
If you are unsure if a customer is joyriding, please contact your Supervisor for
What is being done to protect Operators during the Pandemic?
Below is a brief summary of some of the current precautions GRT has taken to assist
with protecting employees during the Covid-19 situation:
Operators are provided with hand sanitizing wipes (based on availability)
All buses have spray sanitizer and paper towels for the operator compartment
Significantly increased frequency of bus cleaning / sanitizing.
The application of anti-microbial treatments on buses has started.
Rear door boarding for all customers (unless have a mobility device or stroller).
Customers do not walk past the Operator.
Operating procedures implemented for boarding customers using a mobility
device so the operator exits the bus prior to the customer boarding.
The seats nearest to the Operator have been blocked for physical separation.
Enlarged the no standing area to create more separation.
Free transit with no need for customers to interact with Operator at fare box.
On-board and public messaging to maintain physical distancing from Operator
and other customers.
Door signage about rear door boarding and keeping 2m apart on-board.
Pre-screening all MobilityPLUS customers. Customers are not allowed to ride if
do not pass screening questions.
MobilityPLUS Operators being provided with masks, face shields as they are in
closer contact with customers.
Conventional Bus Operators can wear masks if they choose to do so.
Security presence is system wide to respond to issues and ensure physical
distancing is being maintained.
How are we promoting social distancing by customers?
Significant social media campaigns have focused on using transit for essential
travel only and to practice social distancing while taking transit.
In the continued effort to promote physical distancing by customers, the following
temporary practices are being implemented effective April 20, 2020:
o Operators must advise Dispatch when they reach 15 passengers on board
and will continue to pick-up passengers.
o If you get to 20 passengers, Operators must advise Dispatch and then you
can by-pass others wanting to board.
o Dispatch will make every effort to deploy a spare bus(es) to pick up the
Please keep in mind that the limit of 5 persons gathering does not apply to transit
and enforcing customer social distancing is not the Operator’s responsibility.
How are we sanitizing buses?
GRT has several measures in place in addition to standard daily bus cleaning
protocol. The entire fleet has a hard surface wipe down with sanitizing product
daily and some additional mid-day cleanings occur based on vehicle and cleaner
Operators are provided with hand sanitizing wipes (based on availability)
All buses have spray sanitizer and paper towels for the operator compartment.
Bus sanitizing product is bought in bulk in concentrated form. The concentrated
form is too strong to use so water is mixed with the concentrated solution in the
individual bottles in accordance with the manufacturer’s guidelines. The
concentrate has a pink hue which fades when it is diluted and over time, but the
product is still effective at sanitizing.
What is Aegis Microbe Shield treatment and why are we spraying vehicles?
GRT has begun applying the AEGIS Microbe Shield treatment to all buses.
This product is applied to the driver’s area and all high touch surfaces within the
vehicle (stanchions, hand holds, grab bars, etc.).
The AEGIS Microbe Shield forms a durable chemical bond upon application and
remains chemically attached to the surface on which it is applied. It functions by
electrostatically and physically interrupting the bacterial or viral cell membrane
and preventing its ability to survive on a protected surface.
AEGIS provides a long-lasting defense to control the growth and survival of
microbes on just about any surface. The modified surface will retain antimicrobial
activity for an extended period of time, even after repeated cleanings.
This product will be re-applied annually to all buses & LRV’s.
When will Operator Barriers be installed?
The addition of Operator safety barriers to all conventional buses was agreed to
during the last contract negotiation.
A tender for a company to supply Operator barriers has been released.
Once the supplier is selected (anticipated for some time in May), GRT will work
with the supplier to move ahead with the process for installing barriers and will
look for ways to speed the procurement and supply process so we can install
barriers as soon as possible.
What is Management doing about the Conestoga College Relief Facilities?
With the on-going pandemic and associated closures of Conestoga College and
many local businesses to the public, finding a suitable washroom and lunch
solution for Operators with relief location at the college has been a significant
To address this, as of April 17, 2020, a second portable trailer is being installed
at the college relief point that will include a washroom and hand washing