Getting back on the GO – What customers have to say about returning to transit

The COVID-19 pandemic has affected nearly every aspect of people’s lives. Getting around the region is no exception to that. While life has changed, people still need to get to where they’re going, safely. Metrolinx has been working tirelessly since the beginning of 2020 to make that happen, including adding dozens of new safety measures. So what do people think of that work? Metrolinx brings you the latest word on the street.

Safety standards have never held more weight, as commuters make their way back to school and return to workplaces across the region.

For many who rely on public transportation, anxiety about cleanliness and the fear of overcrowding undoubtedly prompts hesitation.

To help ease those concerns, Metrolinx has been busy implementing over 40 new safety measures to restore commuter confidence. That includes non-stop surface cleaning, ensuring proper air circulation in vehicles, continuous monitoring of passenger volume and of course mandatory face coverings for customers and staff.  

The transit agency has even launched an entire safety campaign known as “Safety Never Stops” to help spread the word – think of it as a full court press to keep customers and staff safe.

All of this work goes a long way for GO and UP Express customers returning to transit, but don’t take our word for it. Metrolinx went out to ask people what it’s like to be back on board.  

Hard work hasn’t gone unnoticed

Photo of GO customer Sirjon Malik taken from a safe distance using a selfie stick.
Photo of GO customer Sirjon Malik taken from a safe distance using a selfie stick. (Kareen Awadalla photo)

Metrolinx: What has your experience been like since you returned to using transit?

Sirjon Malik: My experience [back on the GO] has been good. It’s less crowded due to everything that’s been going on, but the service is really good. Cleanliness has also been really good, and up to the mark. Metrolinx is meeting the same standards of anywhere else so that’s good.

GO Customer Kunwardeep Singh on the platform waiting for his train
GO Customer Kunwardeep Singh on the platform waiting for his train. Metrolinx News staff always keep a safe distance and wear a mask when on assignment. (Kareen Awadalla photo)

Metrolinx: Do you feel confident coming back to GO Transit knowing all the new safety measures we’ve introduced to keep you safer?

Kunwardeep Singh: This will be the first time I’ll be using the train since the pandemic started. Obviously knowing about [the safety measures on the train] makes a difference. If I know that it has been cleaned then I feel safer.

Rakesh Kumar wears a face covering while waiting for his train in Toronto. (Kareen Awadalla photo).

Metrolinx: How has our response to COVID-19 impacted your decision to return to transit?

Rakesh Kumar: Since COVID-19 happened, you guys have been taking very good, extra precautions. On the GO train you feel safer because everyone is putting a mask on and there are cleaning staff doing their jobs as well. You see them cleaning all the time too, from the rods and the seats around you too…I first saw the hand sanitizer with a foot peddle at the GO station, now even the malls have it. I’ve also seen the barriers between the seats, now people can sit more comfortably next to you with a precaution as well. They follow the standard for safety. GO Transit is taking measurements for the people.

GO customer Cynthia Ben is encouraged by the new cleaning measures that Metrolinx has introduced. (Kareen Awadalla photo)

Metrolinx: What is your impression of the recent safety measures GO Transit has introduced?

Cynthia Ben: I see that people are keeping social distancing, even on the train. It’s very spread out, only one person to four seats. Whenever I’m on the train, I always notice they’re constantly cleaning it, so that’s good. There’s also a new addition with the dividers that have gone up, I think that’s really cool. It’s just an extra precaution to ensure that you still have physical distancing, even if somebody else is sitting within those four seats. It’s really good.

Mehru Khan is a dental assistant in Toronto and knows the importance of safety precautions during the COVID-19 pandemic. (Kareen Awadalla photo)

Metrolinx: How do you feel coming back to GO?

Mehru Khan: I’m working as a dental assistant so I need to take all the precautions. On the train, everyone has been taking care of themselves, they are wearing masks and are full on up to the mark, so when I travel on the train I feel so safe.

COVID-19 has forced both people and businesses to change the way they think and behave, and for Metrolinx, Safety Never Stops.

So while workers, teachers and students acclimatize to a new normal, when it comes to GO Transit and UP Express, there’s still plenty of room for people to jump aboard and travel safely.

Story by: Kareen Awadalla, Metrolinx Community Relations and Issues Specialist