A man works on a bus.

Metrolinx adjusts GO Transit schedules further to address reduction in ridership during latest wave of pandemic  

In the wake of a major storm, and as Omicron continues to impact ridership numbers, Metrolinx is adjusting service with a reduced schedule. Here’s the latest announcement of the changes that are happening now. 

With far fewer customers riding buses and trains, Metrolinx is making more changes to GO Transit schedules. 

The recent winter storm has seen an impact on many customer trips this week. GO Transit staff worked hard to deliver safe service, against a pounding of snow and ice, but as some work is carried out across the network to clean up snow, repair infrastructure and move equipment to the right places, service will continue to be reduced and adjusted in the coming days. 

The impact of the weather is also leading into a planned temporary adjustment of GO Transit service. 

So a similar level of service – with some adjustments – will continue beyond the weekend as GO Transit introduces new schedules to address reduced ridership due to the Omicron variant.

Customers are served at a window.
Guest Services Representative, Phyllis Helbert, serves a customer at a ticket window inside Union Station’s York Concourse in this file photo. (Matt Llewellyn photo)

Find the latest on GO Transit service by going here.

Please check back frequently as the schedules are being updated in real time. 

Cleanup after the storm has caused some disruptions leading into the new schedules, so if customers use ‘See Schedules’ and ‘Plan Your Trip/Triplinx’ for planning between today (Jan. 19) and Friday (Jan. 21), they will get accurate rail service. however possibly not up to date bus service. If they use See Schedules and Plan Your Trip/Triplinx for planning beyond Friday, they will get accurate rail and bus service.

This is not a unique situation. Metrolinx, like many other transit companies and businesses around the globe, is experiencing significantly reduced ridership, as well as an impact on staffing, due to the Omicron variant.  

A recent 15 per cent reduction in rail services did not adequately address the impact of the latest wave of the virus, which interrupted what was looking like a slow return to some travel normalcy. 

GO Transit ridership had grown throughout the summer and fall of 2021. However, ridership began to rapidly fall at the end of 2021 through this part of 2022, as illness levels grew, and is currently approximately 10 to 12 per cent of pre-pandemic levels – a very similar level of ridership seen during the early days of the pandemic in 2020.  

Simply put, there are far fewer customers using GO Transit buses and trains right now as many return to working from home, post-secondary students study online and events are cancelled or attendance is limited. The recent storm meant even fewer customers climbed onboard trains and buses. 

A worker cleans on the UP platform.
Barbara Verge wipes down a handrail inside the UP Express terminal inside Union Station in this file photo. (Matt Llewellyn photo)

Impact to Trains and Buses 

This additional reduction of rail service is 47 per cent below Metrolinx’s peak service levels in October. 

Although the decrease in customers – as well as the impact of Omicron on transit staff – is temporary, Metrolinx is working hard during this challenging time to provide reliable services, and match service levels to passenger levels.  

Omicron continues to rapidly spread through all communities and public health experts predict the wave won’t be over until a few more weeks or months.  

Customers can stay in the know about schedule changes, cancellations and trip adjustments by signing up for On The GO Alerts or checking their bus or train line’s Twitter handle. Customers should check ahead before leaving home, as trips are routinely adjusted.  

Metrolinx is also continuing to increase efforts to ensure frontline staff remain safe by distributing N95 masks and rapid test kits. Office staff are also continuing to work from home.  

Safety Never Stops 

Although in some ways it may feel like Groundhog Day, there are important differences from March 2020 – there is a better understanding as to how the virus spreads; there are rapid tests to detect it; and most importantly, there are vaccines.  

Along with all of the dozens of safety actions in place since March 2020, vaccination remains a key part of protecting staff and customers. More booster clinics for Metrolinx staff and contractors are also scheduled throughout the month of January.  

Essential workers and others who must travel during this challenging time, should stay protected and wear a well-fitted mask while on transit.  

Metrolinx will be closely monitoring ridership, staff availability and public health advice and will make adjustments to service as required.  

Story by Anne Marie Aikins, Metrolinx head of media and public relations 

Find her on Twitter @MetrolinxSpox