The MiWay transit service announced free fares and route modifications starting March 21 in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
MiWay services, including PRESTO, ticket, and cash fares are no longer required by bus operators, and the fare booth inside the City Centre Transit Terminal closed on Monday, March 23. In its place is the customer service support, which remains open to support transit users.
MiWay also announced buses are constantly being cleaned with antimicrobial agents to prevent the spread of the virus. Bus drivers might also be seen wearing face masks to protect themselves from catching the virus.
“This is a personal choice by the individual and does not assume the operator wearing the mask is sick,” clarified MiWay on their website.
Chain barriers have also been put in place to restrict access to the driver area. When boarding MiWay buses, passengers are only allowed to enter from the rear door. Passengers requiring the ramp may continue to board at the front.
At the University of Toronto Mississauga (UTM), students pay a mandatory incidental fee for the U-Pass which provides them with MiWay transit services for the academic year. Students pay $54.08 per semester for the U-Pass ($108.16 per academic year), while the monthly PRESTO fare for an adult amount to $135.00.
Yet, with the academic term interrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic, the question remains on whether students will be reimbursed for the mandatory U-Pass fee.
According to the MiWay website, refunds will be considered for the monthly PRESTO passes.
“Refunds for monthly pass holders are currently being reviewed. More information will be shared at a future date,” stated MiWay.
According to UTM’s fact sheet for the 2019-2020 academic year available on the website, the university has over 14,500 undergraduate students. Each of whom pay the mandatory U-Pass fee through the University of Toronto Mississauga Students’ Union (UTMSU).
On social media, Mississauga residents and MiWay transit users alike have taken different stances on the now free MiWay services.
On twitter, a commuter with the handle MariaMaeAmor said, “Thank you Mayor!”
“Social distance will not be maintained, and [the] virus will still spread when people travel together on the bus. City needs to take thoughtful action to prevent [the] spread of the virus rather than looking at traveling convenience for the public and drivers,” said twitter handle Mymississaugas.
Another transit user, by the twitter handle of James Hughes (@jim_h2), gave a tip to passengers, “If you’re the first ones to get on the bus through the rear doors, do NOT sit on the seats directly across from or beside the door! This happened both times I took the bus today, and it completely defeats the purpose of social distancing. Go to front/back.”
It is important to notice that while busses continue to run, there are some routes that are being modified to accommodate customer needs and the dropping passenger rates. According to MiWay transit routes updated on March 23, the 100 Airport Express, 101/101A Dundas Express, 103 Hurontario Express, 104 Derry Express, 107 Malton Express, 185 Dixie Express are fully cancelled and customers are being advised to use other routes.
MiWay also announced service reductions with the closure of businesses and schools.
The GO transit shuttle routes like 22 Finch, 44 Mississauga Road, 61 Mavis, 66 McLaughlin, 109 Meadowvale Express, and 110 University Express have several service reductions.
The 300 series school routes are also fully cancelled until further notice.
MiWay asks customers to check updated bus times on Trip Planner when they travel to see which routes are available. MiWay predicts that the waiting times will also increase for specific routes going forward.