Transit Windsor says Tunnel Bus service not returning anytime soon

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While Transit Windsor returned to full service operations in September, don't expect to be seeing the Tunnel Bus heading across the border come November 8.

A release states that while the re-opening of the land border to the United States will present Canadians with new options to cross the Detroit River, they will not be re-starting the Tunnel Bus service at this time. 

Speaking on AM800's Morning Drive, Mayor Drew Dilkens says the Tunnel Bus is one of those extra services that he doesn't think anyone was expecting to have back anytime soon.

"And frankly with the pandemic restrictions and the requirements to show tests upon return and some of the challenges that would cause trying to clear customs and create a route where you can guarantee timing, it's almost impossible."

Officials say the current rules effectively prohibit day-trip passengers and current public health regulations limit the number of passengers on-board, reducing the operational viability of the tunnel bus at this time. 

Dilkens says until that changes, there won't be much progress on getting the service back up and running.

"We're just going to hold off on reintroducing Tunnel Bus service and as soon as the federal government revisits the COVID-19 testing requirements at the land border, then I think Transit Windsor will review the decision and hopefully be able to get that back online once the testing restrictions are removed," he stated.

After returning to full service operations, officials say they've seen ridership slowly return but they continue to operate at about a 50% reduced rate as compared to pre-pandemic averages.

Dilkens says that presents some financial pressure for the City.

"When we look at expanding, when we look at adding more to that financial pressure we have to be very, very careful because transit of course is a highly subsidized service."

In terms of vaccine requirements at the service, Transit Windsor employees are required to be fully vaccinated by November 15 or face an unpaid leave of absence. 

Passengers meantime continue to be required to wear masks or face coverings while on board, while the overall number of passengers on board each bus continues to be limited to help reduce the spread of COVID-19.