The free ride is over for LTC passengers
LONDON, ONT. -- Starting Wednesday, the London Transit Commission (LTC) resumed collecting fares on all city buses, but some LTC drivers tell CTV News, they are giving passengers a heads up.
“We’re giving them a grace period for a day or two to let them know that they are now required to come through the front door and pay again,” says a long-time LTC driver.
LTC General Manager Kelly Paleczny says, “The expectation today is that we would return to front-door boarding and fare collection, we have made every effort we could to advice the public that this was happening…but we also understand that people may not be aware."
Paleczny says that the expectation for Wednesday was that passengers will pay fares but notes that the LTC would not instruct operators to stop someone from boarding the bus.
“We certainly would not instruct operators to say to someone who does not have a fare or who is unaware that we are returning today, to deny them a ride.”
Paleczny says that operators will remind passengers to pay next time and maybe suggest that they double-up next to make it even. She also thanks passengers for their consideration throughout the year.
Jennifer was one of those passengers who was unaware of the new ticket-to-ride rules, “I didn’t know, but I know now,” she says.
Jennifer didn’t have cash on her Wednesday, but she was able to enter a LTC bus despite that.
She says she will be prepared to pay a fare next time she rides transit, happily, “I don’t mind paying, the world is coming back again the way it was, it’s a good sign.”
Robert Booker, who rides the LTC frequently says he was prepared to pay a fare at anytime.
“I have kept my last ticket on me for quite some time. I have been quite ready for this.”
One LTC driver says the first day of collecting fares has been like any other day, that people have been "pretty good and really nice."
Andre Fournier, president of the local transit union, ATU Local 741, says that LTC drivers want to make the transition easy for passengers.
He asks that the public remember to wear masks, “And if at all possible, If you notice a bus is beginning to get overcrowded, wait for the next one to keep everyone safe.”
Back in April, London transit began letting passengers enter LTC buses through the rear doors, while keeping the front doors closed, to limit driver-to-passenger exposure.
With fare boxes by the driver, rear boarding meant free rides and a multi-million dollar hit to LTC’s bottom line over the past four months.
A transit driver notes that some passengers have still been going through the rear doors as opposed to the primary entrance at the front, but nearly every passenger is wearing a mask.
Paleczny tells CTV News that operational buses are equipped with barriers, while “the remaining buses will be held back from service."
Riders are returning, but in July numbers were still down 47 per cent on weekdays and 25 to 30 per cent on weekends.
A cash fare is $3. Tickets and reloadable cards will also be accepted. Monthly passes won’t be valid until Sept. 1.