Posted March 30, 2021
Despite physical distancing orders that remain in place for the City of Toronto, continued overcrowding of particular transit routes make the option for keeping a safe distance apart nearly impossible. Routes 35 Jane and 36 Finch in particular remain over crowded during rush hour which is of serious concern for both drivers and commuters.
The overcrowding of transit has been an ongoing issue in Toronto since the beginning of the pandemic, and COVID-19 numbers in the northwest of Toronto are disproportionately higher than the rest of the City. Many commuters on these routes are essential workers travelling to and from their places of employment, and are the same employees who have been previously denied paid sick days and the ability to stay home when ill.
People in the community are feeling severe stress and anxiety surrounding the taxing decisions they are forced to make between gambling with their and their families’ health by exposing themselves and others to the virus via commute, or staying home from work and risking the loss of their employment and family income.
Humber River MPP Tom Rakocevic and the Official Opposition Critic for Transit has been advocating for safe and accessible public transit system for Ontarians since last year, and has requested funding from the Ford Government to put more buses on routes as well as the implementation of a rider cap.
Earlier this month MPP Rakocevic spoke on improving public transit and stated: “Essential workers are forced to pack onto crowded buses during this pandemic, putting themselves and their loved ones at risk. I continue to push for better funding to put more buses on the street to keep transit riders and operators safe.”
ACORN Toronto, a non-profit, member funded organization, is also taking action demanding more buses and safer situations for essential workers and other TTC riders in the city. On March 13th, the organization held a day of action at Jane and Finch, to advocate for a community whose concerns and voices are not being heard.
Ria Rinne, a member of Acorn who participated in the event shared: "ACORN feels very strongly that in order to ensure that our communities and neighbourhoods stay as safe and healthy as possible during COVID, safe and efficient public transit service must be provided. Overcrowding on TTC buses can lead to incidents of super-spreading of the virus, and thus we believe that more busses should be provided on routes in the northwest of the city where COVID cases are the most high."
Right now, there's no word on when or how the city is going to address the situation however, ACORN Canada has provided a petition on their website where anyone can go to sign, and have their message in support of a safer transit system sent to the Premier, the Mayor, and city council.
To access the petition, please visit: Stop the super spreading! Demand more buses in Toronto's Northwest!
Article by Rae Rondeau for the Downsview Advocate