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With an anticipated surge of workers returning to physical office spaces in Canada, including Toronto, the Toronto Transit Commission faces an uphill battle to attract a customer base anywhere similar to pre-pandemic numbers.

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If the results of a recent poll paint a picture of what’s to come, the TTC rebound certainly won’t happen overnight.

A new survey shows that 94% of Canadians expect to go back to the office for at least part of the week and of those, a whopping 71% plan to use a car to get there, up from 65% last year.

The survey, conducted by RATESDOTCA and BNN Bloomberg, also shows that only 13% of Canadians will take public transportation and 9% will walk or bike.

In Canada’s largest city, that number of transit usage is certainly not that low, but we asked TTC spokesperson Stuart Green if anything is being done to change this trend as the remainder of 2021 unfolds and beyond. .

“As of September 20, we are at around 45% of normal passenger numbers (around 800,000), so we are approaching half of pre-pandemic passenger levels,” Green said. “That is not enough to sustain us, obviously, given how dependent we are on the rate box.”

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Green said the TTC is working with the Toronto Regional Board of Commerce and the BIA Financial District “to remind people that the TTC is still a viable way to get to work. It is a safe way to get to work. We have carried out a lot of security (and) cleaning protocols. “

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Green said it is vital that people return to the large bank towers in downtown TO to sustain dependent businesses like restaurants and shops, particularly those in the PATH subway, which are currently ghost towns.

On the contrary, he says that the TTC bus network is still busy and has “more than 50, almost 60% of the number of normal passengers, while other modes such as the subway and trams are in the 30s and 40s ( in percentage). So that forces us to take a look at how we plan our service. Maybe the old traditional rush hours for at least the next year or two won’t exist like they used to. “

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Green adds that because the buses are still busy, “we’ve actually retrained the subway and tram operators to drive buses. I know that traditionally people think of 1.7 million people a day entering and leaving the city center (at the TTC), but it is not that simple. People work in different places, they work in different ways. We are envisioning a rebound that sees a two- and three-year recovery before we return to pre-pandemic levels. But we’re trying to figure out how we plan a service that looks very, very different from what it used to be. “

Green says the TTC also has two campaigns, the first on safety that has already been implemented, and the second more of a traditional marketing campaign on using transit for more than just the job that comes up at any time.

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“If you go to (a ball game, a restaurant or a theater), take the TTC. It’s a good option, ”he said. “It’s certainly a lot cheaper than driving to downtown Toronto.”

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