In preparation for an expected bump in ridership when schools begin to re-open in September, the TTC is recalling 150 of 450 laid off operators with the balance to be recalled as more customers return.
TTC CEO Rick Leary announced temporary layoffs in April in the wake of a historic ridership drop caused by the global COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting shut down of schools and non-essential businesses.
The move was always intended to be temporary with all operators to be recalled when the TTC reached 50 per cent of pre-pandemic ridership levels (before the pandemic the TTC was carrying 1.7 million rides on a typical weekday day). At the lowest point of the lockdown, the TTC was moving roughly 15-20 per cent of pre-pandemic ridership. The layoffs were designed to maintain transit service across the city – with increased service on the busiest bus routes – while contributing to a broader cost containment strategy.
As of this week, though, the TTC is seeing daily ridership in the 35-40 per cent range, a number that has steadily increased as the City of Toronto entered new phases of the province’s recovery.
“I want to thank Mr. Leary and all TTC employees for working with the City of Toronto to keep transit operating during the pandemic. The unprecedented ridership drop was no fault of the TTC and I’m proud to have secured hundreds of millions from the federal and provincial governments to help protect our transit system,” said Mayor John Tory. “The changes announced today will ensure that as schools reopen and more people return to work, the TTC can continue to deliver safe and reliable service across the city with increased service on its busiest routes.”
In a normal year, the TTC sees ridership increase by up to 10 per cent between August and September. But with so much uncertainty about what ridership will look like after Labour Day, the TTC is preparing to respond to additional demand with increased service as needed until full service is restored.
“These have been difficult times for everyone at the TTC as we’ve been forced to respond to the pandemic by making some tough decisions to reduce expenses and revise service delivery,” said CEO Rick Leary. “The good news is that things are turning around and we’re able to start bringing back operators and reinstating some of the service as well as adding service to the busiest routes across the network.”
The remaining 300 operators will be recalled as ridership increases.