Mississauga considering resuming fare collection, making masks mandatory on MiWay buses

 

At a June 3 council meeting, city staff told councillors that they will present a report next week outlining when Mississauga can begin collecting MiWay fares, as well as ways in which the city can implement a mandatory mask-wearing policy on city-owned transit. 

Brampton has already moved to mandate masks on public transit

Geoff Wright, the city's commissioner of Transportation and Works, told council that while riders are currently advised to wear masks, they are not yet mandatory. He also said the forthcoming staff report will suggest re-implementing transit fares on July 2. 

The city waived transit fares in March in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and the temporary ban on front-door boarding. At an April 29 press conference, Mayor Bonnie Crombie announced that MiWay has been adding temporary biohazard barriers on buses to provide additional protection for operators. 

The shields will need to be in place before fare collection can safely resume.

“The biohazard barriers are currently being installed. We expect this to be completed by end of June,” Catherine Monast, Senior Advisor, Media and Public Information, said in an earlier email to insauga.com

Commuters with disabilities have been permitted to use the ramps at the front of buses over the course of the crisis.

The city has lost substantial revenue due to the suspension of transit fares. A recent report indicates that the city could lose up to $25.8 million on MiWay-generated revenue by June 30. 

Since Wright indicated that fare collection likely won't resume until at least early July, the city is looking at its third full month of significant losses. 

Wright told council that making masks mandatory will help protect commuters, as buses will need to relax some physical distancing measures onboard the vehicles as the economy reopens and ridership increases. 

"Capacity will be a challenge as ridership increases as the economy reopens. With the physical distancing requirements, we will be pushed to limit, so wearing a mask will certainly help as we try to relax requirements on transit due to capacity challenges," Wright told council. 

Wright said that while the report will recommend mandatory masking, he did acknowledge that enforcement could be a challenge. 

"It's hard for a driver to tell someone without a mask that they cannot board," he said. 

When asked about mandatory masking at a June 3 press conference, Crombie said the city will also take direction from Peel Public Health and Transport Canada before making a final decision. She also said the city would have to examine its options for enforcement and perhaps decide whether or not MiWay will have to be able to provide masks to those who don’t have one.

A decision on fare collection and masks will be made in the coming days or weeks.

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