The distribution of free TransLink-branded masks has been such a runaway hit that the public transit authority has decided to hand out an additional 10,000 free masks.
TransLink’s street teams began handing out 15,000 masks at busy locations on the public transit system just two weeks ago, but the coverings are about to run out soon due to their popularity.
— Ken Chan (@iamkennethchan) June 18, 2020
Later this summer, after all 25,000 branded masks are distributed, TransLink will also make the masks available for purchase online.
These non-medical fabric masks are integral to the public transit authority’s “Wearing Is Caring” campaign of encouraging everyone to wear a face mask or covering while onboard a vehicle.
However, so far, the public transit authority believes only a third of passengers are wearing a face mask or covering.
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“We’re asking everyone to do their part. We’re starting to see more customers do that,” said TransLink CEO Kevin Desmond during last week’s Mayors’ Council meeting.
“Our objective is that most people on transit, if they can, should be wearing a mask while they’re on the bus, SeaBus, SkyTrain, and Handydart, because it’ll be safer for everybody else. That’s what this is about. It’s about looking after our fellow citizen, our fellow rider on our great transit system. One of the reasons that British Columbia has done such a good job, better than many jurisdictions, in combatting the coronavirus pandemic is because we’re all doing our part as citizens.”
Desmond adds TransLink is also working with BC Ferries and other organizations on creating a combined, unified message about wearing face masks or coverings when in public spaces.
This is in complete alignment with the recommendations of BC’s provincial health officer. It is an added health safety measure in addition to proper physical distancing, which may not always be possible with ridership levels continuing to grow.
TransLink’s services are operating at normal capacity levels, with ridership now at 33% of pre-pandemic levels — up from 18% in April during the peak of the pandemic. With the third phase of BC’s restart underway, the public transit authority forecasts ridership could reach between 42% and 48% of pre-pandemic levels by the end of July.