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GRT Operations Q & A on Covid-19

April 17, 2020

Q&As
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
consistent service.

 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
Supervisor.
If you are unsure if a customer is joyriding, please contact your Supervisor for
assistance.

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
remaining passengers.

 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
availability.
 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
challenge.
 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
facilities.

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Transit Update #3 – COVID-19

Posting Date: April 17, 2020
Removal Date: May 8, 2020

These are not normal times as we all know. We are all doing our best to manage our
work and personal lives with so many things changing on a daily, even hourly basis.
Like most businesses, GRT has tried to evolve and adapt as quickly as possible.
For this message, I’ve included information in a Frequently Asked Information format
to try to summarize the changes that have happened in the last few weeks and indicate,
to the best of our abilities, what is ahead. Please take the time to read this information and if
you have any questions consult with your supervisor.

Thank you once again for all your efforts supporting GRT, the Region and our
customers in these difficult times.

Thank you.

Peter Zinck
Director, Transit Services

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GRT – NOTICE

Posting Date: April 17, 2020
Removal Date: May 15, 2020

Managing Busy Trips and Physical Distancing
Effective Monday April 20, 2020, in the continued
effort to promote physical distancing by customers,
the following temporary practices will be implemented:

 Operators are instructed to advise Dispatch when
they reach 15 passengers on board and will
continue to pick-up passengers.

 If you get to 20 passengers, Operators must
advise Dispatch and then you can by-pass others
wanting to board.

 Dispatch will make every effort to deploy a spare
bus(es) to pick up the remaining passengers.
Additional spares will be deployed on a regular basis
to supplement trips with identified regular crowding
issues.

Any questions, please speak with your Supervisor.

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Self-Isolating and Use of Sick Bank Update

Brothers/Sisters,

Sorry for any confusion but here is the latest update from the Region:

Up until April 10th, 2020, if anyone had to self isolate, it would come out of your sick bank if you had one. If you didn’t have any sick time or bank then it would have been region paid for the first 14 days only.

 

After the first 14 days of being off and if you were going to continue to be off, then this would continue to come out of your sick bank paid and if you didn’t have a sick back then you can collect E.I. benefits or CERB, Canada Emergency Response Benefit. If your applying for E.I. benefits then you must request your R.O.E. from the region. This can be done through myself or Lisa Main.

 

We are requesting that all sick time used to be reimbursed back into anyone’s sick bank by the region but so far our request has been denied. This keeps changing all the time and we will keep you updated on our progress.

In Solidarity,

Tim Jewell – President Unifor 4304

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Conestoga College Lunch Breaks

Grand River Transit : Posting Date: April 15, 2020
Removal Date: May 15, 2020

**Update** Conestoga College Lunches
To All Employees,

As you know we have experienced several issues since
moving lunches at the Petro-Pass and I would like to
apologize for this and any confusion.
Effective Thursday, April 16, 2020, we will move back to
Conestoga College for your lunches and Operator changeovers.

Lunches will return to the existing trailer as before.

We are still working to secure a second trailer to use for
washing hands and washroom facilities at the college and
this is a priority. We anticipate having this in place
within the week and will advise when it is ready for use.

Any questions, please speak with your Supervisor.
Ken McCready
Manager – Transit Operations
Notice – 2020-1720

Notice

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Grand River Transit

Conestoga College Lunch
Change of Location

To All Employees,

I can’t say this enough so thank-you for your continued efforts during this time.
Effective Saturday, April 11th, 2020, we will be moving the relief point for lunches
at Conestoga College to the Petro-Pass Truck Stop.

 A conventional bus will be parked on the property for you to eat your lunch in.

 Petro-Pass Truck Stop has the following:
o Washrooms – no key required
o Microwave

 Ensure you clean any mess you may make. Any issues with the facility
cleanliness will result in loss of access for us.

 Personal car parking must be at TSC stores (spots to the east/far side of
the store, closer to McDonald’s) and NOT on Petro-Pass property or
elsewhere on the TSC property. There are no exceptions to this.

 Safety vests must be worn when walking across/between parking lots.
How will the driver change over take place:

 On the last trip to the College before your lunch instead of going to the
College you will turn west onto Conestoga College Bvld and stop just after
the first Petro-Pass Truck Stop driveway to do the driver change.
o Continue on Conestoga Blvd
o Left on New Dundee Rd
o Left Homer Watson Blvd
o Right Conestoga College Blvd

 Relief operator does not have to do the bus walk around check at this time
but must do walk around upon arrival at Conestoga College

 Relief operator must go to Conestoga College and then follow their
itinerary.

Notice

Document Number: 3267245 Version: 2
Any questions, please speak with your Supervisor.
Ken McCready
Manager – Transit Operations

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Unifor National Update

Keeping you informed through the crisis

On March 11, the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a global pandemic. Just one month later, we’re still in the midst of what will surely be remembered as the biggest health, social and economic crisis of our time.

As we write to you with some updates from the union, we cannot help but think of the thousands of health care workers reporting to work every day. Our members, and health care workers across the country, are facing conditions that worsen by the day. They must contend with dwindling access to personal protective equipment, and yet they support the people who need them most every day. They, along with workers in the retail, transit, telecommunications, media and many other sectors, are the true heroes that will help us pull through this pandemic.

Over the past few weeks, all Unifor sectors, regions and departments have been working together to respond to the impacts of this crisis on our members. We have talked to and heard from many of you, and we know that the challenges you face in your locals, and in your workplaces, are significant.

Thousands of workers facing layoff have had questions over the Canada Emergency Response Benefit. Our team has followed every government announcement and has summarized everything you need to know into this CERB Frequently Asked Questions document. Please read and understand it, and share the information with your members.

We are encouraging you to use this template letter to employers to encourage them to donate medical supplies, including masks and sanitizer, to help meet health care facilities’ urgent needs.

Many members may be experiencing fear, anxiety, and strong emotional responses related to the impacts of COVID-19. We have assembled dedicated mental health resources to help you and your members cope during these difficult times.

In the coming weeks, we will continue to share the stories of our front-line workers who support communities across the country every day. We will develop tools, such as webinars, to help you and your members access the information that will help you through this crisis. And we will continue the work that is necessary to build the better world we need: during, and also after the crisis is over.

Be sure to visit www.unifor.org/covid-19 for regular updated materials and other resources.

As we navigate the situation, we’re asking you to get in touch with us if you have requests for what our union can do to support your local union through this time. We are actively looking for ways to help you, and we encourage you to contact us with your ideas by emailing treasurer@unifor.org.

We truly hope that you and your loved ones stay safe and healthy.

In solidarity,

Jerry Dias
National President
Lana Payne
National Secretary-Treasurer
Renaud Gagné
Quebec Director

 


 

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Brothers/Sisters,

On March 17th, 2020 the region decided to pay employees if they had to go off on a 14-day self-isolation because of this coronavirus. We received notice today that this will not be in effect after April 10, 2020. Here how the pay works:

  • If you go into self-isolation, these days are region paid until April 10th, 2020
  • After April 10th, 2020, if you book off because you’re not feeling well or COVID-19 related, your sick bank will be used first and if you do not have a sick bank then it will be marked down as sick unpaid and you can apply for E.I.
  • If you go off on E.I. you must request your (R.O.E.) record of employment from the region. It takes 5 days for the region to issue this from the time of your last pay.
  • Sick bank procedures change weekly and we have requested that sick banks be replenished by the region. This is under review.
  • Stay safe, wash your hands often, sneeze or cough into your elbow, physical distancing as much as possible. Reach out someone who is alone. We are all in this together.

In Solidarity,

Tim Jewell – President Unifor 4304

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Region Of Waterloo – Transit Updates

Brothers/Sisters,

 

Fare collection
GRT has not implemented free transit. We are not collecting fares from customers who board through the rear doors, but customers who board through the front, and who ride MobilityPLUS and ION light rail should still pay their fare.

Correction:

We are not collecting fares whether someone boards by the front door or rear door.

 

Once again please protect yourselves, physical distancing, washing your hands for 20 seconds, cough or sneeze into your sleeve or elbow and reach out to someone who may be alone and self-isolating. We are all in this together and together we can flatten the curve.

In Solidarity,

Tim Jewell – President Unifor 4304

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Region of Waterloo – Transit Updates

Region Of Waterloo – COVID-19 Transit updates:

A heartfelt thank you
These are exceptional times and we want to express our gratitude to all our operators, customer service staff, and other front line workers who continue to serve the community.

Rear door boarding
We have implemented rear door boarding on buses. Customers are being asked to board and exit through the rear door unless they use a mobility device. Customers are also being asked to stay behind the yellow line on the floor.

An audio announcement about rear door boarding has been added to all buses. It can also be played manually using the announcement and audio file #2 in the INIT system.

Fare collection
GRT has not implemented free transit. We are not collecting fares from customers who board through the rear doors, but customers who board through the front, and who ride MobilityPLUS and ION light rail should still pay their fare.

Refunds are not being provided to customers.

Updates
Check grt.ca/covid19 for the latest updates on transit service.

Stopping the spread of germs
Here’s what you can do:

Wash your hands often with warm water and soap or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer. 
Sneeze and cough into your sleeve. 
Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth. 
Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.
Stay home when you are sick. 
Don’t touch anything provided to you by the public such as any paper transfers, EasyGO cards or any other of their personal items.
If you are a healthy individual, the use of a mask is not necessary or recommended. Wearing a mask when you are not ill may give a false sense of security and may increase the risk of infection due to improper mask use.

Social distancing
Social distancing means avoiding close contact with others to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Avoid non-essential trips in the community
Limit, postpone or cancel gatherings
Conduct meetings virtually
Keep kids away from group settings
Avoid visits to long term care homes and other care settings.
Keep a distance of 2 metres from others when walking and shopping for groceries.
Managing stress
Some things you can do to help manage stress at these times:

Take breaks from the news and social media. Be mindful of information overload.
Connect with others. Talk with people you trust about your concerns and how you’re feeling.
Take care of your body. Try to eat well, stay active, get plenty of sleep and avoid alcohol aor drugs.
Make time to unwind. Try to do some activities you enjoy.
Local, professional mental health support is available 24/7. Call 1-844-437-3247.

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