It’s been nearly two weeks since BC Transit enacted a mandatory policy for its riders to wear a face-covering when boarding a bus.
This included Prince George’s system and since then, the provincial service says local users have been ‘complying’ with the request in order to help reduce any potential spread of COVID-19 as the pandemic continues.
Though it was unable to give any specific statistics on how many residents are actually abiding by the policy, BC Transit says the feedback it's received has been positive since going into effect on Aug. 24.
“Customers have indicated that a move in this direction would create a more comfortable environment, and we appreciate their ongoing support,” the service says in an email to PrinceGeorgeMatters as the switch followed the decision of other major Canadian transportation agencies.
“While face coverings are mandatory, the policy is being implemented as an educational step without enforcement. Additionally, as drivers are positioned behind protective barriers, they are not mandated to wear face coverings, but may choose to.”
Prince George’s transit system is also seeing a 50 per cent decline in ridership by the pandemic, according to BC Transit.
However, this comes as a positive outlook for local buses compared to a 60 to 80 per cent decline in the spring when COVID-19 forced some routes to temporarily shut down.
“Following the guidance of the Provincial Health Officer and WorkSafeBC, BC Transit is continuing with many of the safety measures put in place to respond to COVID-19, and to align with BC’s Restart Plan,” the company’s statement continues while also noting its doing everything it can to implement health and safety protocols for passengers and drivers.
“Along with our face-covering policy, this includes enhanced cleaning and sanitization of buses, protective barriers for operators and one-way passenger flow, entering from the front and exiting from the rear of the bus.”
Metro Vancouver’s TransLink says about 92 per cent of its passengers have been observed wearing masks to help stop COVID-19.
The new figures, released on Wednesday (Sept. 2), are based on spot checks made by TransLink staff at “high customer volume locations across the system over several days last week” that tallied about 31,000 passengers.
It’s mask policy also took effect Aug. 24.
As of this publication, Northern Health has recorded 164 positive COVID-19 cases, including 33 in its Prince George region between January and July.
- with files from Tyler Orton, Business In Vancouver