Unsung heroes in the age of COVID-19 – The GO Transit teams supporting our drivers and passengers

Every GO bus driver who pulls his or her vehicle away from a stop these days – making sure front line workers get to where they need to be – counts on a team to keep the big vehicles moving. Here are the unsung heroes who are, together, delivering medical staff, grocery clerks, elderly care workers and police officers, to where they need to be.

We’ve talked about our staff who show up every day to keep people who need to travel, on the GO.

Those stories have included GO Transit bus drivers who still take the wheel. Go here for that story.

But they are not alone. There’s an army supporting those drivers – as well as staff at our stations and around GO Transit and UP Express trains.

They keep vehicles clean and safe, as well as work behind the scenes to help passengers along. Like drivers, if they don’t work, the buses don’t move.

We thought you’d like to know about them, and their ongoing work.

“We are going the extra mile to do the work we have to do to assure the members of the public are safe while using our buses” says Rome Singh, supervisor for the Bus Fleet Maintenance team at GO Transit’s Steeprock Garage, located in the East end.

His team typically cycles through anywhere from 65 to 75 GO buses a day.

Their knowledge and tools are as important as fuel in the tanks.

A GO bus is put up a hoist.

Members of the bus fleet maintenance team work diligently to make sure buses are ready to hit the road. (Photo submitted by Rome Singh)

When they arrive, the buses are checked and go through a service lane. Crews of five will then run the works – from fuelling, to checking all the fluids to running a mechanical inspection. No parts are left unchecked.

It’s an impressive feat to see a huge bus up on a mechanic’s hoist. According to Singh, on a regular day, the shop will see about four ‘mad rushes’ as they call it, where 13 to 15 buses come in from inbound service, all at once. That means teams are busy, working hard to make sure everything is done properly and on time.

A mechanic works on a tire of a bus.

A wheel change is just one of the many tasks the bus maintenance team might be assigned to. While they carry out their work, they keep GO transit’s bus operations going. (Photo submitted by Rome Singh)

Once the bus goes through a mechanical check-up and is fully serviced, it goes through a wash and a thorough cleaning.

The cleaning includes a sanitizing process of all touch points from the front doors, windows, arm rests, hand rails, glass partitions – basically everything that can be touched is wiped down, cleaned and sanitized.

(Editor’s Note – April 20) – Metrolinx would like to make it clear that the AegisMicrobe Shield product that is being used on vehicles and stations is not meant to disinfect surfaces or kill viruses. The product provides a barrier that prevents the future growth of bacteria, mould and yeast. It is one of the many additional measures we have taken to help keep our staff and customers safe and healthy.

A man clean a hand rail on a GO bus.

The upper level of a GO bus is sprayed with a cleaning agent. (Metrolinx photo)

“It’s been a solid cooperation with everyone helping each other and looking out for one another while maintaining social distancing,” says Singh.

“We’re used to working closely together so this has been a challenge, but I can’t thank my team enough for all their hard work during this time.”

While the maintenance crews and drivers do their part, customers can also help by following the best practices and recommendations by public health officials.

We know you’ve heard it before, but these measures can’t be repeated enough:

  • Continue to practice physical distancing whenever possible.
  • Buy your fare or load your PRESTO card using our self-serve options. If you must use cash, only use it at vending machines.
  • Use the hand-sanitizer in all buses and at stations.
  • Load/unload your luggage from buses. Drivers will continue opening and closing the exterior luggage compartment.
  • Ensure you pick up after yourself and dispose of your garbage. Do not throw away your masks and gloves on the floor or leave them on the seat.

Last but not least, customers should travel only if they absolutely have to. If they are sick or might have any symptoms, they need to stay home.

All of this will a go a long way towards stopping the transmission of COVID-19 and helping our drivers and maintenance crews – the people many depend on – stay healthy.

Story by Nitish Bissonauth, Metrolinx bilingual spokesperson, media relations and issues specialist.