In March of last year, when the virus first arrived here, Halifax Transit waived fees, allowing passengers to use the rear doors to board and exit and thus limiting bus drivers’ exposures. Bus occupancy was limited. Fares were waived. Now, with infection rates much higher, and while facing new more virulent and deadly Covid-19 strains, Halifax Transit has refused to make a similar adjustment.

“In normal times we’re talking about guys who work for nine months straight, at very low wages. Now with COVID-19 we’ve got workers that have been on board ships for 13 or 14 months. They’re all trapped and they can’t get home to the Philippines, they can’t get home to India, to the Ukraine,” says Karl Risser, an International Transport Workers Federation (ITF) inspector here in Nova Scotia. .“It’s getting desperate. We’ve heard reports of seafarers jumping overboard, seafarers fighting, massive tension on board, because no one knows for how long they will be stuck there.”

Councillors on the Halifax Transportation Committee are recommending that the bus pass discount pilot project be expanded. The program allows low income Haligonians to buy a bus pass for half the price. Some say access to transportation is a basic necessity, and the City could do much better.