Transit Briefs: LACMTA, NCTD, TTCWritten by Marybeth Luczak, Executive Editor
Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (LACMTA) now includes canceled rail and bus trips on its transit app. Also, California’s North County Transit District (NCTD) is launching a first-mile, last-mile pilot program for COASTER regional/commuter rail riders; and Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) at the end of 2021 fired 354 workers who did not comply with its mandatory COVID-19 vaccination policy.
LACMTA’s Transit app for Apple iPhones and Androids now displays canceled rail and bus trips with information supplied by Swiftly, which already updates vehicle locations every 11 seconds.
While the transit agency said it “continues to run the vast majority of its trips, we’ve had some staff issues due to a national labor shortage—which is impacting many transit agencies—and the ongoing surge in the COVID-19 Omicron variant. We want riders to be well-informed when their trip isn’t going to occur as planned.”
NCTD is partnering with Lyft, Uber and TripShot to provide discounted first and last mile connections for riders using the Sorrento Valley and Carlsbad Poinsettia COASTER stations. Offered through the NCTD+ mobility-as-a-service program, the pilot will give riders a $7.50 credit toward trips to or from those stations, within defined geographic zones. The Sorrento Valley Station zone encompasses 16.1 square miles; the Carlsbad Poinsettia Station zone covers 10.8 square miles.
The discounted Uber and Lyft rides are available Monday through Friday during regular COASTER service hours (5:30 a.m. to 10:30 p.m.). Riders with a mobility device can book similar discounted trips for curb-to-curb service via an NCTD vehicle using the TripShot application. Trips can be reserved in riders’ Uber, Lyft or TripShot apps using a designated coupon or QR code link.
“Those starting early, or staying late, now have reliable transportation to or from two of our busiest COASTER stations,” NCTD Executive Director Matthew O. Tucker said.
In a statement to CBC Radio Canada, TTC spokesperson Stuart Green said the number of TTC workers who lost their jobs after failing to comply with the mandatory COVID-19 vaccination policy “represents 2% of the transit agency’s workforce, and all 354 have not been working since Nov. 21. Before the firings, the TTC had more than 15,000 workers.”
“It is commonly accepted by experts that the best way out of the pandemic and the best way to keep employees safe in the workplace is to have everyone vaccinated,” Green told CBC Radio Canada. “Obviously our hope was that everyone would agree with every credible expert and voluntarily comply with the policy. It’s truly unfortunate a very small number of people did not.”
Green also said that “the TTC notified workers about the policy well in advance of its Dec. 31 deadline for vaccinations.”
TTC’s November service changes took into account the terminations, and Green noted there would be “no further impact” on service.
While TTC is now recruiting, hiring and training new operators, a labor arbitrator is reviewing the firings, according to the news outlet.