A Look at how the Pandemic is Affecting TTC Ridership

More people are turning away from taking the TTC until they get vaccinated. (Courtesy: Toronto Transit Commission)

Who’s Riding the Rocket?

By: Jessica Brown

Since the beginning of the pandemic, approximately one-quarter of people who used to take the TTC stated that they would more than likely not hop on a streetcar, bus or subway train until they have been vaccinated.

According to data released by the University of Toronto, surveys showed that roughly 69 percent of TTC riders stopped using public transit when the province went into lockdown, shutting down all non-essential business on March 15, 2020.

For that year, results also found that 63 percent of respondents who stopped taking the TTC said they would resume once the province hits stage 3 for reopening, another 25 percent say they are waiting for vaccination. In comparison, one percent said they would never retake it.

Despite restrictions surrounding the number of passengers boarding the vehicles, several transit riders have expressed concerns around overcrowded TTC vehicles during the pandemic.

“The minute you step on the TTC your own life is at risk even if you’re not aware of it consciously. People must be aware of the distance between them and another passenger even though they are wearing a mask, or don’t hop on crowded vehicles at all.” says one TTC rider who commutes to work from Scarborough to downtown Toronto.

While many people are hesitant about taking the TTC, most people have limited options for getting to their destination and rely on public transit during these times.


Data shows that essential workers remain at the top of the list for commuting by transit followed by the use of a personal vehicle. The TTC for many is a convenient way of getting across the city as it is fast and reliable, but is it still safe?

Overcrowding on Buses

A photo of an overcrowded TTC bus during an early morning commute has been the centre of attention for concerned essential workers travelling on busy bus routes.

A photo of an overcrowded TTC bus during an early morning commute.  (Courtesy: BlogTO)

The photo, taken on the 300 Bloor-Danforth bus at around 5 a.m. during a weekday, shows riders among essential workers standing closely together, packed on a bus with no room for physical distancing.

In response, Toronto’s public transit agency is now considering adding more buses to this particular route that is affected by a large volume of early morning commuters.

For routes that are not experiencing overcrowding, people must still comply with physical distancing by selecting a seat and ensuring that there is an empty space between them and the next seat or keeping a 6ft distance while standing, if able to do so, from other seated or standing passengers. 


Results show just how many people are continuing to use the TTC and rely on it among frontline workers across different occupations. Now that the province of Ontario is in yet, another lockdown, data is yet to show what the future of TTC ridership may look like, as case numbers are on the rise.

Data from the TTC also showing an observance of riders wearing masks and wearing them properly. Approximately fifty percent of commuters are wearing masks. In comparison, about fifty-one commuters are wearing their masks properly in terms of using the mask to cover from the chin to over the nose. Despite the fact that people are complying with mandatory laws to wear masks on TTC, many are still worried about catching the virus during their commute.

According to the TTC, they will not be enforcing the use of masks or face coverings. Customers who do not have a mask or face covering will still be allowed to board TTC vehicles due to the fact that not all medical or other conditions are visible. Customers unable to wear a mask can obtain a mask exemption card or button.

Using transit apps to avoid cluster on buses

The TTC has now updated their commuter apps, making it easier for commuters to real-time passenger counts on TTC buses before they arrive at a stop.

“You’ll be able to see the volume of passengers on vehicles approaching your stop to help you choose which vehicle you’re most comfortable boarding,” – Toronto Transit Commmision


Information on passenger counts will be available for the next two to three busses approaching stops. Simultaneously, routes that have more bus services will have occupancy information on more TTC buses.

Commuters are being warned that because this is a new feature, information sent to the apps can be delayed providing inaccurate live data. Transit riders are urged not to jump on a crowded but and wait for another one that has space to properly physical distance.

The TTC also reminds people that busloads can frequently change, especially around busy stops as people are boarding and exiting the vehicles.

For more information on how the TTC continues to keep riders safe while commuting, you can visit the TTC website.



















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