Ridership recovery in Durham Region

Posted on Thursday July 09, 2020

WHITBY, ON – On Wednesday, July 8, members of the Transit Executive Committee (TEC) met virtually and at Regional Headquarters to discuss Durham Region Transit’s (DRT) Service Restoration Plan, updates on DRT’s response to COVID-19 and U-Pass agreements:

  • Service Restoration Plan: Christopher Norris, Acting Deputy General Manager, Operations, and Michael Binetti, Supervisor, Service Design, presented on DRT’s Service Restoration Plan. The phased-in approach to reintroducing service is structured around changed ridership travel patterns, with peak demand in the early afternoon to evening. Service levels will increase as ridership milestones are met. More information will be available in the coming weeks.
  • COVID-19 response: Passengers are expected to adhere to DRT’s Passengers expectations in response to COVID-19 policy. The policy is based on the Ministry of Transportation guidance document for transit agencies issued on June 11. DRT has completed many of the recommendations including the communication of infection prevention, occupational health and safety policies, and procedures to employees. Plexiglass barriers and hand sanitizing stations have also been installed onboard buses. The guidance document also includes passenger requirements, which are incorporated into DRT’s policy. To help inform customers, DRT launched a safety awareness campaign advising customers to wear a mask or face covering.
  • Update to U-Pass agreements: In response to requests from Ontario Tech University and Durham College, TEC approved a pause to the U-Pass agreement for the 2020 summer and fall semesters. Students are required pay regular DRT fares. Trent University continues to participate in the U-Pass program. Lost revenue in 2020, because of the temporary pause, will be approximately $3.3 million. DRT will continue to pursue opportunities to offset this impact.

Highlights from the General Manager’s report include:

  • Between March 25 and June 2, DRT experienced a 220 per cent increase in bus shelter vandalism, which will cost approximately $25,000 to repair. Staff continue to investigate options for reasonable solutions to continue to provide shelter for customers and reduce impacts from vandalism.
  • A recent visit by Tim Hortons, handing out free coffee and doughnuts, to recognize those who serve their communities. A film crew was present to capture DRT staff arriving for and starting their workday. The final commercial can be seen on YouTube.
  • DRT is providing free PRESTO cards to customers through its point of sale network. About 1,200 cards are still available. Customers can load a monthly pass or take advantage of a lower single ride trip of $3.25, saving $10 every 14 rides compared to paying cash.


“A lot of people in the Region have seen their daily routines change – including alternative work arrangements and virtual classrooms,” said Regional Chair John Henry. “The phased-in approach in the Service Restoration Plan takes into consideration a lot of data, ridership trends and patterns, as well as on-street observations. Getting the Region moving safely is important as we continue with Phase 2 of the provincial reopening plan.”

“The measures that have been put in place are to ensure the safety of everyone on board a Durham Region Transit bus. We also need everyone using transit to step up and do their part and follow all posted signage and be mindful of the Province’s recommendation and guidance, which includes wearing a mask on DRT buses,” said Mayor of Ajax and Chair of the Transit Executive Committee, Shaun Collier.

“Since the beginning of this pandemic, DRT staff have taken extraordinary measures to ensure passenger and employee safety, and now we’re relying on our passengers to follow established safety protocols such as wearing a mask and practicing proper hand hygiene,” said Bill Holmes, General Manager Durham Region Transit. “Customer travel patterns are also different now, which is why we are confident that our phased-approach to implementing scheduled and On Demand services is the responsible way to reintroduce transit back to the Region.”

More information about updated safety practices and onboard protocols, passenger expectations policy requirements fare collection, incentives and payment, including free PRESTO cards to assist with the transition to paperless fare payment, is available at durhamregiontransit.com/COVID-19.

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Media inquiries:
Liam Hatch – Marketing and Communications
905-668-7711 ext. 2181 or liam.hatch@durham.ca

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