Temporary service adjustments anticipated for GO Transit, UP Express in coming days due to pandemic-related staff shortages

GO Transit and UP Express customers will likely encounter longer wait times in the coming days due to staff shortages amid the seventh wave of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Crown agency and train operator Metrolinx said in a statement that customers should expect longer than usual wait times on Wednesday for UP Express trains, and some cancelled trips on the Union Pearson Express.

However, express bus shuttles are running on Wednesday between Union Station and Pearson Airport to assist riders.

Metrolinx says more service delays are also anticipated for both UP Express and GO Transit in the coming days due to a lack of workers who are sick from the virus.

“Due to rising staff absences related to the 7th wave of COVID, we are experiencing crew shortages – very similar to what we experienced in previous waves – that are resulting in some minimal and temporary service adjustments. We are doing our best to minimize delays and communicate to customers ahead of time and recommend customers plan ahead and check for service updates,” Spokesperson Suniya Kukaswadia wrote in a statement.

Kukaswadia says both Metrolinx and Alstom, a rail transport manufacturing company, have been impacted by staff shortages due to a changing labour market amid the pandemic.

“This has resulted in train crew shortages requiring some minimal and temporary service adjustments and cancellations,” she wrote.

Metrolinx says it is in the process of hiring and training more staff to increase service levels, as ridership has recovered on the weekends but is only at 50 per cent of pre-pandemic levels overall.

“Although riders are coming back, they’re travelling differently than they did before COVID-19. By continuing to closely monitor ridership, we’re doing our best to ensure our service meets customer needs with the resources we have available to us,” Kukaswadia wrote.

Last month, Metrolinx told CP24.com that GO transit had restored about 75 per cent of its weekday train service so far.

Kukaswadia added that dozens of crew members are currently going through a safety training program before they start to work.

“As more crews become available, we will continue to incrementally add more service, with more changes coming as early as the fall. We’re also lengthening our busiest GO trains, adding more buses to routes where we’re welcoming back the most customers, and, when we can, adding extra service for big events.”

Customers are being encouraged to sign up for On The GO Alerts or to check their bus or train line’s Twitter handle to know about schedule changes, cancellations and trip adjustments.