Drivers and passengers worry about COVID-19 risks on Halifax Transit buses
HALIFAX -- COVID-19 is now causing significant service disruptions for Halifax Transit.
Many routes weren’t running on Wednesday as the transit union says three drivers have tested positive for COVID-19 and more than 40 are self-isolating.
"We’re in a position we haven’t been in before during this whole pandemic," said Ken Wilson, president of Local 508 of the Amalgamated Transit Union, which represents Halifax Transit workers.
Wilson says the latest driver to test positive went to work with symptoms.
"She came to work Monday with a headache, came to work Tuesday with a headache, started to get a bit of a runny nose," Wilson said.
He says she left work to get tested yesterday and learned she was positive.
Buses have become frequent potential exposure sites. An internal memo sent to transit drivers lists nearly 50 potential exposures on buses since April 19.
Operators are also told unless they have symptoms — testing and self-isolation is not required.
"We have very strong cleaning protocols in place, not only in the case when a positive case identified, but every day the cleaning protocols identified are very, very strong," said Halifax Mayor Mike Savage.
Still, some passengers are nervous.
"I took the 61 and everyone up front was spaced together, but I went to the back when there wasn’t a whole lot of people," said transit user Sam McGillivray.
The union wants passengers to board from the back, put limits on how many people can ride, and get rapid tests for transit operators. They also want drivers to be prioritized for the COVID-19 vaccine.
Public health points out pop-up testing is available throughout the city and Nova Scotia is vaccinating by age – with the exception of health-care workers.
Wilson says there are three more drivers who have symptoms and are waiting for test results.
He says all three were on the road Tuesday.
The city says if an employee tests positive public health will contact trace and issue a public notice if needed.