COVID-19 Service Changes in Canada, New York City, and San Francisco

VIA Rail Canada announced the resumption of passenger trains between Winnipeg, Manitoba, and Vancouver, British Columbia, beginning on December 11. In light of the pandemic, VIA planned social distancing measures and enhanced air handling systems on the route of the Canadian. Initially, VIA will offer a one weekly round trip on this portion of the route. VIA Rail officials said they remain committed to a full recovery of its long-distance service for Western Canada.

In October, a study conducted by the New York University School of Global Health in coordination with Transport Workers Union Local 100 found that as many as a quarter of MTA New York City Transit subway and bus workers have contracted COVID-19. Frequent public contact and close quarters in employee facilities place employees at increased risk for contracting the virus, the study found. Surveys of employees noted 90 percent are concerned about getting sick at work and 70 percent are worried about their safety, especially when dealing with angry or violent passengers when enforcing mask rules. In response, MTA announced it would step-up virus screening for its front-line employees. Up to 2,000 screenings were expected per week in the program’s initial phase.

In California’s Bay Area, Caltrain officials were considering adjusting winter service to better serve customers during the pandemic. The plan is to offer more off-peak and weekend service that would provide increased service when essential workers and transit-dependent riders are more likely to board. The base plan calls for 68 weekday trains with at least two trains per hour in each direction throughout the entire day. At press time, Caltrain was also considering the restoration of service to pre-pandemic levels of 92 daily trains.

—Bob Gallegos

This article was posted on: November 25, 2020