Maple Ridge bus riders favour mandatory masks

Rowena Reidegeld, 34, pictured with her son, Patrick, at the Haney Place Exchange in Maple Ridge. (Ronan O’Doherty/ THE NEWS)
Tyson Colangelo, 18, was waiting for the bus in Maple Ridge after an interview at a local grocery store. (Ronan O’Doherty/ THE NEWS)
Scott Lamb, 18, said people who don’t wear masks on the bus should get kicked off. (Ronan O’Doherty/ THE NEWS)

Maple Ridge transit users are happy to cover their faces in order to feel a little safer when travelling around the city.

TransLink, BC Transit and BC Ferries have all made it mandatory for passengers to wear masks when riding their vehicles starting Monday (Aug. 24).

At the Haney Place Exchange near downtown Maple Ridge, the majority of those waiting for their rides had their face coverings handy, and were placing it over their mouths and noses shortly before boarding buses.

READ MORE: Masks now mandatory on public transit, ferries in B.C.

Rowena Reidegold, 34, who was setting out with her son Patrick, said she’s pleased about the new regulations.

“They make everyone feel safe,” she said. “And then it makes the community think that TransLink is doing their best to control the spread of the virus, so I think that’s a good thing.”

While the focus will be mostly on educating the public and not imposing penalties, TransLink has noted the Transit Police can enforce the mandate if issues arise.

Scott Lamb, 18, who said he rides transit every day, pointed out fellow riders should be more conscious of how their decisions can affect others.

“People need to be more aware of how dangerous COVID-19 can be,” he said. “And if they’re not wearing masks, they shouldn’t be riding a bus.

“They should be kicked off.”

Tyson Colangelo, 18, had just successfully wrapped up an interview at a local grocery store, and he said he would be riding the bus to work often as a result.

“I’ll feel a lot safer with everyone wearing masks,” he said.

While many may feel safe outdoors, it is the closed space of transit that is most worrying for some of its riders.

Nathan Townsend, 15, said he thinks the new mandate is a smart decision as a result.

“The windows aren’t always open on the bus, and it’s a small confined space,” he said.

“You get quite a few people riding it at the same time, so it makes sense for everyone to wear masks in order to feel safer.”

Both TransLink and BC Transit have made a series of exemptions. Children under the age of five, employees working behind a barrier or in areas the public cannot access, people with underlying medical conditions or disabilities that prevent mask wearing, those who cannot remove a mask without assistance. Police, first responders and employees will be exempt from having to wear a mask when responding to an emergency.

For TransLink services, passengers unable to wear a mask for health reasons will require a card from the agency which notes they are exempt from wearing a face covering. The cards will be made available at Compass customer service centres at Stadium-Chinatown and Waterfront Stations.

with files from Katya Slepian

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