TransLink CEO urging riders to not enforce mandatory mask policy after fight

Sep 29 2020, 4:20 pm

Just over a month after TransLink implemented its mandatory mask policy onboard public transit, the public transit authority is reporting mask compliance has reached between 92% and 95%, based on the most recent spot checks.

The mandatory mask policy came into effect after the initial voluntary policy for riders only reached about 40% compliance.

“I just want to reinforce the most important thing for all of us is our own personal responsibility. It’s still the best thing that our customers can do is to make their own healthy choices. Wash your hands, please wear a mask, don’t touch your eyes and mouth while riding,” said TransLink CEO Kevin Desmond during Monday’s board of directors public meeting.

“This is the best way to keep yourself healthy and safe on the system. We continue to have increased cleaning and sanitizing on the system.”

The policies were developed in coordination with not only health authorities but also BC Transit and BC Ferries, which also implemented similar mandatory mask policies on August 24.

But Desmond is also urging riders to not take matters into their own hands when they see other passengers without masks.

He made this comment in reaction to Saturday’s incident when an individual confronted another passenger on a bus in Surrey for not wearing a mask. The suspect allegedly punched the individual, leading to a fight on the bus, and fled the scene.

“I’m aware of a confrontation that took place between two customers over the weekend in Surrey. This is concerning to us, perhaps not unexpected and fortunately, it is the only such incident I’m aware of at this point. I want to remind the public that we take all incidents of harassment and violence on the system very seriously,” said Desmond.

“We ask customers not to attempt to enforce TransLink’s mandatory mask policy themselves. Please don’t do that. I want to stress that customers should not take it upon themselves to enforce the mandatory mask policy.”

When passengers onboard vehicles do not feel they are safe, they should use silent alarms onboard SkyTrain, or contact Transit Security or Transit Police.

Transit Police can be reached discretely by text message at 87-77-77.

With emergency operating funding from senior governments, TransLink is maintaining service levels at near-normal levels to allow for some physical distancing. The public transit authority is attempting to maintain safe operating capacities of 66% on buses, and 50% on SkyTrain and SeaBus.

The number of spare bus drivers has been increased to allow for the capability to quickly react and respond to bus routes that are more crowded by putting more buses onto the system.

On BC Transit, mask compliance in the Victoria region was 50% before the mandatory policy was implemented, and it has since grown to 92%. In other service areas across the province, the rate of compliance ranges between 50% and 70%.

Kenneth ChanKenneth Chan

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