- An online petition calls for the closures of the STM metro due to the COVID-19 outbreak.
- But the government assures that the risk of infection on public transit is low.
- Both the STM and Premier Legault further assert that it's important to keep the metro running so healthcare professionals can get to work.
Public transit across the continent has largely emptied out as governments recommend that residents stay home and avoid non-essential travel. But, in Montreal, this dip in ridership hasn't stopped the STM from running. Instead, the company has instituted rigorous new cleaning schedules to keep employees and passengers safe and guarantee its continued operation. But despite these efforts, an online petition calling for the closure of the metro has garnered over 6,000 signatures.
And it's rapidly growing.
"The government has closed down a number of places, but I think they forgot to shut down the metro! The metro is the worst place we can transmit the virus," writes the petition author in its description.
The government of Quebec states on its website, however, that "the risk of contracting COVID-19 on public transit remains very low."
In a statement to MTL Blog, the STM further assures that it "is in close contact with the public health, municipal and provincial authorities regarding the COVID-19 situation and its impact on public transit and [applies] all requested measures and recommendations."
The transit company also cites its use by healthcare professionals to get to work as an important reason to keep the metro operating.
"The metro is an important means of transportation of Montrealers, including workers in essential sectors such as health," the STM statement continued.
It's a point that Quebec Premier François Legault has reiterated on multiple occasions.
"We couldn't afford for these people not to be able to get to work," he said in a public briefing on March 14.
He does recommend, though, that passengers try to avoid peak periods, stating in a March 13 briefing that "of course, what we want to try to do ideally is to spread out the peak periods, so that not everyone is there at the same time, at the beginning of the day and at the end of the day."
In addition to regular cleanings, the STM also asks passengers to board through the back door on buses (except for people in wheelchairs) and has distributed sanitary wipes to employees.
The complete list of the STM's precautionary measures can be found on its website here.
Quebec health officials released guidelines for individuals to follow to help stop the spread of COVID-19 in the province. You can read about them.
More information on hygiene practices during the pandemic is available on the government of Canada's website here.