Commuting for duty during COVID-19 response – First responder’s GO Transit journey to Toronto remains unchanged as many travellers have stopped in their tracks

Thousands of front line and essential workers across the region rely on transit to get to their early morning shifts. During the province-wide response to COVID-19, first responders are still out in the community every day – working for the sake of us all . That’s why Metrolinx continues to provide a safe and reliable lifeline GO service that police officers, nurses and other front line workers can depend on.

While many people have hunkered down in response to COVID-19, we see the faces – and hear the stories – of workers who keep moving for the sake of us all.

Those jobs are varied, and can include professionals dealing with the elderly, as well as workers who keep the supply-chain unbroken.

But it’s first-responders in Ontario – medical experts, fire fighters and police officers – who arguably carry a special weight in keeping society intact.

They are among the GO Transit customers who still occupy a regular seat on our vehicles.

Toronto Police Sergeant Chris McCann is one of those people.

Photo of Toronto Police Sgt. Chris McCann on the GO platform as the train approaches

Toronto Police Sgt. Chris McCann takes the GO Train to work at his downtown police precinct every day. (Sgt. Chris McCann photo).

Sgt. McCann has been a Toronto police officer since 1997, and been consistently taking the same early Lakeshore West train for five years. Officer McCann says despite the uncertain times, and people keeping their distance, the mood on the train is far from isolating.

“I haven’t had one problem taking the train in,” says McCann. “Everyone looks at each other and smiles, without saying a word everyone knows we are going through the same thing.”

According to the veteran police officer, humans remain creatures of habit – even in a pandemic. McCann says he rides in the same car every day and while numbers have dwindled, there is still a sense of normalcy.

“For the last two weeks, about four or five of us get on same car and everyone sits in the exact same spot every day,” says McCann.  “Once we arrive at Union, everyone smiles and nods and gets on with their day.”

Officer McCann notes the new safety measures put in place by GO Transit to protect riders and staff have been very effective. He says despite a reduction in service, people can still spread out, and thanks to announcements by GO’s Customer Service Ambassadors, train riders are making sure they don’t crowd the doors.

Sgt. Chris McCann poses for a selfie with a GO transit station attendant with the plexiglass shield between them

Toronto Police Sgt. Chris McCann is one of many essential workers that depend on transit to get to work. He gives credit to GO Transit staff for their hard work during the COVID-19 pandemic. (Sgt. Chris McCann photo).

For his part, McCann says he appreciates the work being done by all of GO’s front line staff – including GO’s Customer Service Ambassadors and Transit Safety Officers.

“People forget that transit workers are still out there, putting their health at risk as well, but they keep doing their jobs every day in a very professional way,” he says.

For people that have switched their daily commute to the couch or home office, it’s easy to forget the daily challenges faced by essential workers. In especially turbulent times, their work becomes even more difficult – but hopefully a smooth commute can add some much needed calm to their unusual day.

Do you, or someone you know, have a story of why you still count on GO Transit to move you? If so, we’d like to hear it, go here to connect via social media, or simply send us an email at news@metrolinx.com.

 Story by Scott Money, Metrolinx media relations senior advisor