The transport agency said the decision was made because daily boarding capacity on TTC bus routes had now reached 50%.
The TTC said it also observed trips spread evenly throughout the day instead of having the traditional peaks.
The recall will include 97 bus operators, the transit agency said. This is in addition to the 280 pilots already brought back since the restrictions were relaxed.
The TTC has previously said all operators should be downsized when the TTC reaches 50% of pre-pandemic ridership levels.
“Throughout the pandemic, we continued to monitor ridership in real time and adjust service to meet demand,” TTC CEO Rick Leary said in a statement. “We also looked for opportunities to take advantage of reduced ridership to move major capital work forward at a time when it would inconvenience customers the least.
The move was also made in anticipation of the delays that will be caused by an advanced major asbestos removal program that will see Line 1 between Finch and Sheppard closed for 10 days in December.
The TTC has indicated that it will require shuttles between these stations during the closure.
The transit agency also expects the need for buses to increase later in November, when a new cohort of high school students resume classroom learning.
There will also be operator retirements later this year, the TTC said, adding that recruitment and training of new operators is underway.
“The employee recall is part of TTC’s ongoing commitment to provide safe and reliable service to the hundreds of thousands of customers who still depend on public transportation during the pandemic,” TTC said in a press release.
Local 113 of the Amalgamated Transport Union (ATU), which represents TTC workers, said the recall was great news for employees and the people of Toronto.
“Since this announcement, our members and transit allies have urged the TTC to restore full service to protect public health and avoid overcrowding on an increasing number of roads. Today the TTC responded to our requests and finally did the right thing. ATU Local 113 president Carlos Santos said in a statement.
The recall comes in the wake of the agency telling drivers that physical distancing will no longer be possible in its vehicles.
A worried client tweeted to the agency on Tuesday about her trip on a TTC bus with a photo of people standing side by side.
In response, the agency said: “As the city reopens, social distancing will no longer be possible on our vehicles. As such, if you feel that a vehicle you are in is overcrowded, I suggest you get off and board the next one. My apologies for the inconvenience caused. ”
The response drew criticism, even Mayor John Tory said she was callous.
However, Tory said the TTC had been blunt about the lack of physical distance on some roads.
Leary also apologized for the “poorly worded” tweet on Wednesday and said they are constantly rebalancing service levels on major bus routes based on demand.
“There are many areas today where we have more buses than pre-COVID,” he said.