With ridership down by as much as 90 per cent due to COVID-19, Metrolinx is speeding up critical construction projects along the Barrie line.
A few weeks ago, overnight work began in the Davenport Diamond area building a diversion track on the east side of the corridor – an important step that will eventually allow construction teams access to the main line to begin making critical upgrades that will make train service more reliable, safer and allow for greater expansion in the years to come.
Although this overnight work had been scheduled for months, Metrolinx worked with its contractor to create a solution: temporarily replacing trains with buses on the Barrie line during the day on weekdays, and on weekends, so crews can safely expedite that corridor work as much as possible, rather than doing overnight construction.
“Listening to concerns raised by residents and finding mitigating solutions with our project teams is our number one priority in Community Relations,” said Kelly Hagan, Metrolinx vice-president, community relations communications.
“We value our relationships with the community and will continue to work together as we deliver this important project.”
During morning and evening rush hours, regular GO train service will still be available between Allandale GO and Union Station.
“We will closely monitor capacity on our GO buses and will make adjustments as needed,” said Doug Tuira, senior manager of GO Transit’s Network Operations Centre.
Metrolinx has also been working since January to implement more than 40 strategies including:
- Increased deep cleaning at all stations, trains and on buses.
- New hand sanitizer dispensers on buses and in stations.
- Application of a long acting antimicrobial germ protecting barrier on trains, buses and stations.
- Specialist vacuums (HEPA vacs) that remove tiny particles like the droplets that transmit COVID-19 are now part of the new cleaning protocols.
- Polycarbonate screens to protect bus drivers as well as in stations to provide some protection for staff and customers
- Frontline staff now have re-usable cloth face coverings, face shields, gloves and hand sanitizer.
- Education for both customers and staff has been key and has helped change behaviours such as regular hand washing, staying home if sick, cough/sneeze etiquette and physical distancing.
- Giving bus drivers the option to exit the bus before passengers load and unload.
- Bus drivers no longer accept cash to reduce physical interactions.
Regularly scheduled midday and weekend train service is expected to resume at the end of June.