MONTREAL -- Societe de transport de Montreal office workers will help clean buses, metros and other public transit spaces after the transit authority reached an agreement with the union representing its office staff.

The deal between the STM and the SCFP 2580, which will see the office workers back up the STM's full-time cleaning staff, "ensures the continuation of essential public transit services for Montrealers," the STM said in a statement.

Under the agreement, which the STM says is in line with its current collective agreement with SCFP 2580, office staff "can be assigned to cleaning duties on buses, in the métro, on mezzanine levels and in métro station entrance buildings, and will be required, for example, to clean terminals, public telephones, turnstiles and fare gates, ramps, elevator buttons and staircase handrails."

The deal will see the 400 or so office employees transferred to cleaning in two phases: first, a group of as much as 150 employees and then a second phase will see the transfer of another 250 workers.

The STM, which has faced public criticism for the state of cleanliness of its metro cars and buses during the COVID-19 pandemic, says it remains in constant contact with public-health authorities and adjusts its cleaning and sanitation practices as needed in light of the latest information available.


While many people have already begun wearing masks on metros and buses in Montreal, it may soon be mandatory.

Currently, public-health officials and the STM say physical distancing is possible, but with more talk of opening the economy, it likely won’t last.

“With our regular ridership, which will come back one day and maybe sooner than later, we will have to find ways because we calculated that if we get the same kind of ridership as we had in February, we will need 8,000 buses and that’s not possible,” said STM chairman Philippe Schnobb.

The STM union says that in the US and Europe, commuters have already been forced to wear masks, and implementing a similar system in Montreal could ease anxiety.

“We’ve got 46 employees at the STM that are infected, most of them are from the drivers’ group,” said Renato Carlone of the union.