The vast majority of Metro Vancouver’s public transit riders are in compliance with TransLink’s new mandatory policy for face masks or coverings while on transit property.
The policy came into effect on Monday, August 24, and based on spot checks by TransLink staff, approximately 92% of passengers are now wearing masks onboard transit vehicles. About 31,000 riders were counted in these spot checks.
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“This is a very encouraging trend,” said TransLink CEO Kevin Desmond in a statement. “This level of compliance shows our approach is succeeding and we’ll keep working hard to ensure we can continue to build on these numbers. I’m pleased to see our customers are helping us make transit safer for the thousands of people who rely on the system every day.”
In late July, when masks were only a strong recommendation, Desmond said about 40% of passengers were wearing a mask.
Mandatory masks or coverings were implemented following growing public concerns and in response to the rising ridership, which means proper physical distancing is not always possible. As well, in recent weeks in Metro Vancouver, there has been a growing number of COVID-19 cases.
Transit Police have been provided with the ability to enforce the new policy, but the initial focus of this policy is on awareness and education.
There are exemptions for anyone with an underlying medical condition or disability that inhibits the ability to wear a mask, children under five years of age, and employees working behind a barrier or within areas designated for employees.
TransLink announced plans to roll out the policy in early August, but it was not immediately implemented in order to provide time to develop an awareness campaign that included onboard signage. Over 25,000 signs have been printed, and the digital destination signs on the front of buses now display a “MASK MANDATORY” message.
Mandatory masks do not replace physical distancing; passengers should spread out as much as possible, whenever possible.