How to return to using GO Transit over the summer – A walkthrough from the moment you arrive at the station to stepping off your train or bus at your destination

Remember the first day of school, when you had to navigate the halls and remember where your classes were all over again? For many GO Transit customers, a return to using the transit service means getting used to familiar things, all over again. Here’s a helpful guide to returning to your routes, while still staying safe as we travel and work in a world still dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic.

Editor’s note – This feature will be routinely updated as new health and safety measures are brought in over the summer months. So please keep checking back in.

It’s nice to see your face again.

At least we think that’s you behind that snazzy new face covering.

For those GO Transit customers now returning – or about to come back – to buses and trains, old habits are going to have to be learned all over again. Even the benign exercise of interacting with fellow passengers and stepping aboard may have slightly changed.

In past stories, we’ve broken down the many health and safety measures Metrolinx has instituted for GO Transit and UP Express. You can find one of those main stories here.

We thought we’d create a quick cheat-sheet – a walking tour for both GO Transit buses and trains over the summer months. We’ll look to do this again as fall approaches, because more changes are likely to come, and they will be added in as better measures are found. But this should help your return to transit go as smoothly as the journeys you used to take.

New signage that directs the flow of people at Union Station

GO Stations are being outfitted with new signage, including the York Concourse at Union Station. (Metrolinx photo)

Before you leave the house

Even before setting off, it’s a good idea to check the schedules, as times may have changed since the last time you took a trip.

You’ll still want to use your PRESTO card. But did you know about the new and expanded app features – for both Android and Apple devices- which allow you to instantly load your card and avoid standing in lines to use the machines? If not, here’s a story on those advances.

Also, consider adding Autoload to your PRESTO card to add funds to your PRESTO account automatically.

Station staff cleaning surfaces at Union Station

Cleaning efforts are being stepped up at GO Stations, on buses and trains. (Metrolinx photo)

At the station

A new routine will start before you step out of your vehicle or as you head toward a GO station or stop. We’re not your mom, but did you remember your face covering? Metrolinx – along with government health officials – are strongly recommending customers wear one on public transit.

As you enter your station, take a quick look around. Things might look a little different.

If you’re used to seeing your friendly neighbourhood station attendant, don’t worry, they’ll still be on hand – but they’ll be wearing fancy new protective gear like face coverings and gloves to keep everyone safe.

GO Station attendant standing in a station with a face covering.

Station attendants are still here to help you on your journey (Metrolinx photo)

On your way to your train, grab some hand sanitizer from one of the newly installed dispensers.

On your GO train

Once you step on your GO train, many things will look as you left them – though customers in face coverings are now the recommended norm.

Take a good look around, as every train goes through repeated and special cleaning processes.

Keep a watch out for any new signage that may alert you to new systems in place.

And you’ll notice the customer service ambassador – they work in the disability coach – has a few more safety barriers around them. But they’re still there to help you.

GO customer service ambassador poses with a mask

GO customer service ambassadors are still in the accessibility coach on your train to help you on your way. (Metrolinx photo)

Trains will soon have hand sanitizing stations set up – dispensers are being added to our trains over the coming months.

You’ll also notice that your train may arrive at Union Station and not open the doors right away. There’s method to this madness.  Crews are strategically offloading customers to ensure everyone isn’t getting off trains at the same time and overloading the platforms.

One more thing before you go. We know everyone is excited to get to work, but please don’t crowd the doors when you reach your stop. Wait for the train doors to open before heading towards the exit and try to leave space for everyone to disembark safely.

You’ll soon find new patterns and habits, and taking a GO train or bus will be as easy as it ever was.

On your GO Bus

Your GO bus is still your bus, but with a few noticeable changes.

It regularly goes through a thorough multi-step cleaning process.

You can still say hello to the driver – they’ve been doing a remarkable frontline effort moving other essential workers during the pandemic – but they’ll be behind some elements that help further safeguard everyone’s health. That includes face coverings and see-through polycarbonate screens.

Drivers now have the option to exit the bus before passengers load and unload, and luggage assistance, and some other hands-on services, have been removed unless needed.

Unlike the last time you may have been on a GO bus, those drivers can’t accept cash. So make sure you have that handy PRESTO card loaded.

You may need to be a little bit more patient as fellow customers get on and off. Things now are deliberately steady and safe.

At different points – including some attached to bus doors – you’ll see hand sanitizing stations. Help yourself.

GO bus door with hand sanitizer attached.

GO buses are now equipped with hand sanitizers. (Metrolinx photo)

Seats directly behind the driver are now out of use. Take a look around to see if any other seats are temporarily out of use – signs are very visible.

On UP Express

The UP Express is still the best way to get to and from Toronto Pearson airport.

Just like its cousin in green, keep a watch out for any new UP Express signage that may alert you to new systems in place – whether that is floor decals indicating directional flow or where to stand.

An UP express customer service rep sits behind protective barrier

An UP express customer service rep sits behind protective barrier. (Metrolinx photo)

Like on all public transit, customers are strongly encouraged to wear face coverings on UP Express trains. Don’t worry, you won’t be the only one – Metrolinx staff is right there with you.

Arriving at Union Station

If your trip starts or ends at Union Station, look for new health and safety kiosks that offer interactive tools like a temperature check station and additional information for travellers.

Image shows a man waiting at a booth.

A staff member mans a health and safety kiosk at Union Station. The display offers up information on how GO Transit is keeping vehicles and stations clean, as well as offering up a way customers can put their own disinfection measures to the test. (Metrolinx photo)

There’s also going to be some new signage to help make sure everyone knows where to line-up in the station. If you’ve been to the grocery store lately, these signs might look familiar.

Newly installed signage at Union Station

Newly installed signage at Union Station will help people know where to go and how to stay safe. (Metrolinx photo)

Want to use an elevator? Great – but take a look to see if any helpful new signs have been added, to help ensure there’s enough room inside.

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Elevator signage will help limit the amount of people inside the elevators at one time. (Metrolinx photo)

There’s a new motto for Metrolinx – a mantra the transit agency has kept top of mind long before this pandemic arrived. It’s a reminder that ‘safety never stops.’

But it’ll mean everyone watching out for one another, and having patience so we all get to where we’re going – and back again – safely.

Our efforts on safety don’t stop here either, more safety enhancements are coming and we will keep you updated as they are rolled out.

Oh and if we didn’t stress it enough – it’s nice to see your face again.

And yes, that’s a cool face covering you’ve managed to create from an old Nickelback T-shirt.

Story by Scott Money, Metrolinx media relations senior advisor